Early career

Dio's musical career began in 1957 when several Cortland, New York musicians formed the band The Vegas Kings, which soon changed their name to Ronnie and the Rumblers. This band's lineup had Padavona on the bass guitar, along with singer Billy DeWolfe, guitarist Nick Pantas, drummer Tom Rogers, and saxophone player Jack Musci.

In 1958, the band again changed their name, along with a few changes of personnel. The band was now known as Ronnie and the Redcaps. At this point, Padavona began singing, replacing DeWolfe. Musci also left the band, and a new guitarist, Dick Botoff, joined. The Redcaps lineup released two singles: "Lover" b/w "Conquest" (with DeWolfe on vocals on the A-side) on the Reb label, and on Seneca (S 178-102, USA), "An Angel Is Missing" with "What'd I Say" on the B side (both songs featuring Padavona on vocals).

In 1961, they changed their name to Ronnie Dio and The Prophets. The Prophets lineup lasted for quite a long time and produced several singles and one album. Some sources state that some of the single releases were made by Ronnie James Dio solo, but others, such as Dio himself, state that all of the singles were made as a band.

Padavona took up the name "Dio" after mafia member Johnny Dio, and first used it professionally in 1961, when he added it to the band's second release on Seneca. Soon after that the band changed their name to Ronnie Dio and the Prophets. The group released several singles during the following years, until 1967.

Ronnie Dio and the Prophets disbanded in 1967, but he and Prophets guitarist Nick Pantas started a new band called the Electric Elves. They shortened their name to Elf in 1969, and went on to become an opening act for Deep Purple.

 

Rainbow

Dio's vocals caught the ear of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and when Blackmore left the band, he recruited Dio and other members of Elf to form Rainbow. Rainbow released its debut as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow in 1975. Dio recorded two more classic albums (Rising and Long Live Rock 'n' Roll) and the live album On Stage with Rainbow, but he left the band due to creative differences: Blackmore had wanted to take the band in a more commercial direction.

 

Black Sabbath

In 1979, after leaving Rainbow, Dio joined Black Sabbath, replacing Ozzy Osbourne. That line-up released the highly successful Heaven and Hell album in 1980, which revitalized the band's career. They then went on to record Mob Rules with Vinny Appice on drums. Vinnie replaced original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward during the tour for Heaven and Hell due to familial problems at the time. The album proved less successful than its predecessor, but still a hit. In 1982, disagreements over the mixing of Live Evil led to Ronnie Dio and Vinny Appice quitting the band to form the band Dio. In 1992, Dio briefly returned to Black Sabbath to record Dehumanizer. The album was a minor hit, reaching the Top 40 in the United Kingdom, and #44 on the Billboard 200.

 

Dio

Wanting to continue together as a band, Ronnie James Dio and Vinnie Appice formed Dio, the band, in 1982. On guitar played Vivian Campbell and on bass Jimmy Bain, the latter whom he had known since the old Rainbow days. Their debut album, Holy Diver, included the hit singles, "Rainbow in the Dark" and the title track, Holy Diver. As the band changed members over the years, Dio was the only original member. Except a few breaks, Dio, the band, was always touring or recording. They released 10 albums, with Master of the Moon being the last one, recorded in 2004. During September 2005, Dio toured Siberia and Russia's far east, kicking off in Khabarovsk In 2000, Century Media released Holy Dio: Tribute to Ronnie James Dio, an album featuring a number of covers by mainly power metal bands. The last song he recorded with his band was titled "Electra".

 

Heaven & Hell

In October 2006, it was confirmed that Dio would be joining Black Sabbath members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and former Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice to tour under the moniker Heaven & Hell, the title of the first Dio era Black Sabbath album. They chose the name Heaven & Hell as Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were still in Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne and felt it was best to use a different moniker for the Dio version of the band. Original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward was to be involved in this project, but he later withdrew. In 2008 the band completed a 98-date world tour. The band released one album under the Heaven & Hell name, The Devil You Know, to critical and commercial acclaim. They also had planned to release a follow-up in 2010.

 

Other projects involved

In 1974, Dio sang on the Roger Glover conducted and produced concept album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast. Along other guest-singers, the album featured Deep Purple alumni Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale. Dio provided vocals for the songs "Homeward", "Sitting in a Dream" and the UK single "Love is All".

In 1980, Dio sang the tracks "To Live for the King" and "Mask of the Great Deceiver" on Kerry Livgren's solo album Seeds of Change. Dio, who was between stints as singer for Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow and Black Sabbath, later proved somewhat controversial among Livgren's Christian fans, as Black Sabbath and Dio were then perceived as "satanic" by many Christians. Dio said in an interview that he did not consider the album to be a "Christian" album and had performed on it as a favor to Livgren.

In 1985, Dio contributed to the metal world's answer to Band Aid and USA for Africa with the Hear'n Aid project. With a heavy metal all-star ensemble, which was the brainchild of his fellow Dio band mates Vivian Campbell & Jimmy Bain, he sang some of the vocals on the single "Stars" and an album full of songs from other artists given to charity.

The project raised $1 million within a year.

In 1997, Dio made a cameo on Pat Boone's In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, an album of famous heavy metal songs played in big band style. Dio can be heard singing backup on Boone's take of "Holy Diver".

Tenacious D included a tribute song entitled "Dio" that appeared on their self-titled album. The song explains how he has to "pass the torch" for a new generation. Reportedly, Dio approved of it, and had Tenacious D appear in his video "Push" from Killing the Dragon in 2002. He also appeared in the film Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, playing himself.

In 2005, Dio was revealed to be the voice behind Dr. X in Operation: Mindcrime II, the sequel to Queensrÿche's seminal concept album Operation: Mindcrime. His part was shown in a prerecorded video on the subsequent tour, and Ronnie appeared onstage to sing the part live on at least one occasion (both shown on the Mindcrime at the Moore DVD).

On January 17, 2007, he was inducted into the Rock Walk of Fame at Guitar Center on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard.

Dio is thanked in the end credits of the 2011 film Atlas Shrugged: Part I, due to his being "one of the people who kept the project alive."

 

 

Legacy

Dio's career spanned over five decades, from 1957 to 2010. During this period, and particularly in the 21st century, he received a number of distinctions and awards. He was inducted into the Cortland City Hall of Fame in 2004, and has a street named after him there called Dio Way. Dio's vocal range was anywhere between 4 to 6 octaves, and his voice is generally believed to be one of the best in Metal. In his post-Elf band Rainbow , Ronnie wrote some of the first Power Metal lyrics.Classic Rock Magazine awarded Dio with the "Metal Guru Award" at their yearly "Roll Of Honour" awards ceremony in 2006. On January 17, 2007, Dio was inducted into Guitar Center's Rock Walk of Fame in Hollywood, CA. Dio was named "Best Metal Singer" at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in April 2010 for his work on The Devil You Know, making him the oldest recipient of this award at age 67. He accepted the award in person at what was to be his final public appearance, less than one month before his death.The main stage of Bloodstock Open Air is also named after him in tribute after Heaven and Hell pulled out upon his death. A Dio monument has been unveiled in Kavarna, Bulgaria.

Rolling Stone magazine eulogized Dio with these words: "It wasn't just his mighty pipes that made him Ronnie James Dio — it was his moral fervor...what always stood out was Dio's raging compassion for the lost rock & roll children in his audience. Dio never pretended to be one of the kids — he sang as an adult assuring us that we weren't alone in our suffering, and some day we might even be proud of conquering it".

On July 10, 2011 in parallel to Ronnie Dio's birthday in Cortland, NY was held a day-long event featuring many central New York local bands and talent for a benefit to the Stand Up and Shout Cancer foundation for cancer research and Dio Memorial concert. Part of the proceeds from the event went to fund a memorial music scholarship for the local city high-school in his name. http://www.standupandshoutcortland.org http://www.ronniejamesdio.com The event consisted of many acts by friends and associates that Ronnie made along the way through the decades and even featured a earth-shaking performance by The Rods http://www.therods.com Many came and saw and participated and gave with all the heart that Ronnie Dio gave to his fans and to the world of rock and roll from it's early evolution into the energetic and unforgettable sound and passionate determination that is currently known as Heavy Metal.