Rock pioneer Ronnie James Dio passes away at 67

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Photo via 'PeterSymonds' via Flickr

Sunday was a sad day for metal fans as rock icon Ronnie James Dio passed away at the age of 67. He had been battling stomach cancer since last summer.

Ronnie James Dio was small in size, standing only 5 feet 4 inches, but he had one of the “most powerful and unique voices in rock music.”

He is most famous for his role as frontman of Black Sabbath, replacing Ozzy Osbourne in 1979. At first, fans were reluctant to accept Dio as Osbourne’s replacement, but Dio soon earned full respect with fans during the Heaven and Hell tour in 1980. The Heaven and Hell album, which Dio sang and wrote, was very successful and is known to have revitalized the band’s career.

Dio is also known for forming the band Rainbow with guitarist Richie Blackmore in 1975, before Dio joined Black Sabbath. In the early 80s, Dio and drummer Vinny Appice left Sabbath after the “Live Evil” album, and together formed the band Dio.

The heavy metal vocalist and songwriter was born on July 10, 1942, to an Italian-American family. According to The Mercury, Dio grew up listening to opera and classical music. He also played the trumpet and French horn. “But when I heard Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple something touched me deep inside. That was my music. It spoke to me,” Dio said in an earlier interview.

And according to a Charger forum on, Dio was also a fan of the San Diego Chargers. Dio fans reported to know people that have seen him at Charger games in the past.

In addition to his interest in sports, Dio was very active in charity fundraisers. Dio worked on musical projects to raise money for famine relief in Africa. According to Dio’s Myspace, the project, known as Hear ‘n Aid, raised $1 million within a year. Dio was also involved with a Los Angeles charity called “Children of The Night” which served to rescue children from drugs and prostitution.

On November 25, 2009, Wendy Galaxiola, Dio’s 2nd wife and manager, announced that Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She also reminded fans that he hoped to be “back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans.”

Sadly, on May 16, 2010, Dio passed away at 7:45AM. Galaxiola said on Dio’s website, “Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.”

On Sunday, May 30th, The Hall Of Liberty in Los Angeles will be hosting a Public Memorial Service for Dio at 2PM. It will celebrate both the life and music of Ronnie James Dio and is open to all friends and fans from around the world.

*Photo via ‘PeterSymonds’ via Flickr


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