Thursday, May 20, 2010

Holy Diver

This week the heavy metal music community lost one of its giants: Mr. Ronnie James Dio. For the uninitiated, Dio came to prominence in the late seventies in the Ritchie Blackmore (ex-Deep Purple) outfit Rainbow, with such songs as "The Man on the Silver Mountain." He attained true Jedi Council-status when in the early eighties he replaced a singer named Ozzy Osbourne in a band named Black Sabbath.

Now, whenever Dio's tenure in Sabbath is discussed, it is usually qualified with a remark such as, "Black Sabbath's best work was with Ozzy..." or "Only the original line-up is the *true* Black Sabbath." And these qualifications are all true: None of Dio's three albums with Sabbath (Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules, and Dehumanizer) reach the depth and artistry of those early Sabbath records -- you know, the ones that pretty much invented heavy metal ex nihilo. Nonetheless, by the late seventies, Sabbath was a band in decline, and as far as I am concerned Dio resuscitated that band. There are some truly great songs on those first two records he did with Sabbath, and some people think their song "Heaven and Hell" is the best song Sabbath ever recorded. (It's definitely in their top ten.) I had the great pleasure of seeing this line-up of Sabbath at Radio City Music Hall back in 2007.

After leaving Sabbath, he embarked on a successful solo career. Two records from that era stand out: Holy Diver and The Last in Line.

I have been following Dio's career for a long time, and I am sad to see him go. He was famous for being a nice guy, as this article can attest. I've included some select songs from his career below. \m/

With Rainbow:

With Sabbath:

With Dio:

And here's a tongue-in-cheek tribute from Tenacious D: