80’s Music: Ronnie James Dio

With the death of Ronnie James Dio, it seemed like a good time for me to revisit my metal days from the 80’s.  I grew up in a suburb of Des Moines, where if you wanted to demonstrate you stood out from the crowd, you listened to Metal.  My favorites were Judas Priest, AC/DC, Ozzy, the Scorpions, and Dio.  I will give the first 3 acts I mentioned their own days, but to honor Ronnie James Dio, I will discuss his career today.  It covers some from the 70’s, as well, since it’s a retrospective.

The biggest voice I’ve ever heard in rock music was by a 5 foot 4 dude from New Hampshire named Ronnie James Dio.  He kicked around with some commercially unsuccessful bands for more than a decade until Deep Purple’s Richie Blackmore hired him to front his new band, Rainbow.  Here is their most famous song together, Man on the Silver Mountain.

Blackmore is notorious for not getting along with band members, so Dio and him parted ways after 2 records.  Next up for Dio was replacing Ozzy in Black Sabbath.  His first album with them, Heaven and Hell, is considered by some the best Sabbath record of all.  Here is a live version of the dark title track.

After a couple records with Sabbath, Dio went out on his own in his self-named band.  The first 2 records he put out with the band were 2 of the best metal ones during the 80’s.  His debut Holy Diver has some ridiculous lyrics, but they all work with the voice of Dio and his great guitarist, Vivian Campbell. Here the band’s 3 most famous songs. The videos are pretty cool, too.


Many metal bands have been greatly influenced by Dio, but the group that uses their influence the most is the hilariously rocking Tenacious D.  Here is their tribute.

Finally, here is a duet that Ozzy and Dio did together of War Pigs.


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