Another musical hero has fallen and the response from the metal world has been an outpouring of appreciation and praise for both the music and the personal ethos of the great Ronnie James Dio, former lead singer of Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and his own band Dio.
Even though my metal years for the most part are far behind me, I have always held Ronnie James in the highest esteem for his powerful, operatic metal vocals and songwriting. To me Holy Diver is still the best metal album ever made, period. His work with Black Sabbath on Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules is not far behind, either. And before that, he formed Rainbow with Ritchie Blackmore. Plus he is credited for inventing the "devil horns" hand symbol that has become synonymous with the entire genre of heavy metal. That's quite a legacy, none of which is surprising. What does surprise me is how well loved he was by so many. I had no idea guys like Lars Ulrich from Metallica and Brian May from Queen were such appreciators and fans. Apparently he had such a good heart that it seems he doesn't have a single enemy.
Certainly the music of Dio appeals only to a particular kind of music fan, the metalers who are not put off by the medieval imagery that RJD loved so much, but even so its hard to deny the metal power of the band on the Holy Diver and Last In Line tours. Check out this live take of "Stand Up And Shout" with Vivian Campbell absolutely shredding while Vinny Appice and Jimmy Bain on drums and bass brutally pound out the rhythm.