With the passing of Ronnie James Dio on Sunday, it got me thinking a lot about my roots in hard rock and metal. RJD was a true pioneer of hard rock/metal, and as I later learned, a great person.
I wont claim to be a huge RJD fan, because honestly, up until very recently, I didn’t really care much for him. As recently as a couple of summers ago, we went and saw Heaven & Hell open for Judas Priest, and I just remember making fun of him the whole set while rocking out. To me, everything sounded like Holy Diver, or Heaven & Hell (both great songs, but I never really *listened* to his full catalog).
Personally, I was always an Ozzy fan. To me, they were the only Sabbath, so I never really gave Dio a chance, because it just sounded too *different* to me. Over the past year however, I have been listening to a lot of XM. I’m almost always on The Boneyard (the classic hard rock station), and they play A LOT of Dio’s songs via his 3 major projects: Rainbow, Sabbath, & Dio (I don’t count Heaven & Hell since it’s really just Sabbath with Vinnie instead of Bill on Drums).
At first listen, I’d usually just sing Holy Diver along to whatever the tune was, and laugh. Then I actually started to *listen* to the songs, and I was blown away by his vocals, and honestly, most of the tunes themselves. I realized that I actually knew a lot more of his songs than I thought, and found myself humming the melodies of Sabbath and Rainbow tunes without realizing what it was.
I was lucky enough to get into hard rock/metal at a very early age. Thanks to my uncle Ed being only 7 years older than me, I was introduced to metal at the ripe age of 6 or 7 (back in 82 or 83). One of my fondest memories growing up, was hanging out at my grandparents house with Ed, eating a pound of oreo’s, and watching MTV all day (you know, when they actually played music all the time).
Obviously, at the time, Ozzy was breaking out as a solo artist. Songs like crazy train were in heavy rotation on MTV. Logically, that led me to Sabbath with Ozzy (Even though the Dio Sabbath had basically just disbanded). Had I been a few years older, who knows if I would have thought differently. I just didn’t have an open mind about it.
I learned of his cancer like most others did at the time, through a message sent out by his wife around Thanksgiving last year. Word was that he was doing well, and giving that cancer hell as only Dio could. Up until a couple of weeks ago, it looked like all was well, and he was ready to be back on the road soon. He was even in the studio recently, and supposedly sounded good.
Then about 2 weeks ago, Heaven & Hell announced that they were canceling summer dates due to his health. I was behind on my news feeds, and didn’t learn of his death until Monday morning. At first there were rumors that were denied, then came the message from his wife that he had indeed passed Sunday morning. Shocking news, cuz if anyone could beat cancer, it would be RJD.
The strangest thing is that, for some reason, I had “Time Machine” stuck in my head all day Sunday. Luckily for us, his music is here forever…