Posted on 17th May 2010

Many aspire to be rock legends, but few rarely attain it. Ronnie James Dio was all that and more.

I was first introduced to Ronnie James Dio thanks to Tommy Vance on the BBC Radio One's Friday Night Rock Show. To begin with it was Rainbow, then shortly after Black Sabbath. Dio managed to pair himself with some great talent, and his writing, singing and performances were the greater for it.

I first saw him on stage with Black Sabbath in January 1982 at Stafford Bingley Halls. It was snowing and cold, but the band were on fire. My mates and I managed to get right down the front, and had an absolute blast. It was a great gig, but also a very eventful one. It was the gig that got stopped halfway through the song Black Sabbath, as dry ice had spurted out from underneath the drum riser and shot up Vinnie Appice's leg, giving him some nasty burns. After a short while they returned on stage, with Vinnie getting a huge cheers for carying on. When Ronnie left Black Sabbath and formed Dio, I managed to catch them on several tours during the 80s, and often went backstage to get my programme signed. Ronnie always waited until every fan who waited had got something signed. He'd happily chat with fans and get his photograph taken, and you always got the feeling he always appreciated the fans.

In 1992 I was with Ark at Rich Bitch Studios in Birmingham, where they were recording the Cover Me With Rain EP. Paul and Gel shot upstairs to tell us Sabbath were here. Unsurprising we all found excuses to head downstairs to get a drink or something to eat :) The guys were very relaxed and seemed very at ease to say hello.

In more recent years, I haven't seen that many gigs, and I even regretted not going to see Heaven & Hell and Dio's 'Holy Diver - Live' tour at the time. Thankfully I have some great memories of his live shows and he leaves behind some great songs and albums. I always wished I could have seen him perform with Rainbow backing the 70s, and oddly enough I was playing Tarot Woman to Dan on Saturday from Rainbow Rising, as I continued his education in classic rock ;)

Ronnie, you always were a star. R.I.P.


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