According to the BBC’s review of ‘Mightier Than The Sword‘ Ronnie James Dio was “a genius, a gentleman and perhaps [rock and metal’s] greatest voice.”
Sadly, I never met they guy to know whether or not he was a gentleman, all I know was that growing up I was simply awestruck by the quality and power of his voice.
I first discovered Dio in the Holy Diver era. At that time Rainbow was headed up by Joe Lynn Turner and I didn’t learn until much later that Dio had previously fronted Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow as well as Black Sabbath. So my formative memories of Dio were from songs like this:
And of course wishing I could sing like him!
I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing him live twice and it was probably the closest I’ve ever got to hero worship! He was (and still is) one of my most loved and enduring inspirations, not just because of his voice, but also because he simply kept on and on writing and performing really great songs; powerful, passionate melodic and thoughtful. That’s where his main inspiration lies for me; the consistent quality of his output. He was unquestionably someone who discovered their God-given gift and lived it to the max.
A few years back I gigged at the Cheese and Grain in Frome with my old band. It was a great venue, one of the few times we had a decent sound guy; this enormous but mellow dreadlocked American guy with a southern Californian drawl. We sound-checked with Holy Diver and I’ll never forget his reaction “WOOOAH Holy Diver, I was NOT expected that. That was totally aaaawesome”. Yup, you got that right.
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