My Hero and Inspiration, Ronnie James Dio: The Mightiest Voice in Heavy Metal

As a teenager,  I got to witness the Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult Concert live! at the Nassau Colosseum (actual concert they recorded the Black and Blue Film) in 1980.  I was knocked back in my seat by the power of Ronnie James Dio’s vocals and the the sound of Black Sabbath combined with the visual of giant crosses and flames lighting up the arena and explosive pyrotechnics echoing throughout!    I did see the amazing KISS Alive II tour at Madison Square Garden in 1978, but  I had never witnessed anything as powerful and heavy as Ronnie Dio singing Heaven and Hell in 1980.  I even got to see Blizzard of Ozz and meet Ozzy and the incredible Randy Rhoads in Def Leppard ‘s dressing room when they were introducing themselves, but my first and most distinctive concert memory was the power and the fury that was emanating from Ronnie and Black Sabbath.  I had always perked up when I heard Rainbow with Ronnie James Dio singing on the radio or at a friends house.  Ronnie James Dio’s mighty soaring vocals stood out above any other vocalist period.  As they say good things come in small packages.  In Ronnie’s case, he had such a consistent super powerful voice with great tone, poise, stage persona, charisma and ultimate confidence.  Ronnie James Dio: The King of Heavy Metal.

Through my association of working with Dio keyboardist Claude Schnell from 1996 to 1999 on his solo material/project, I had the opportunity to meet Ronnie James Dio for the first time at Vinny Appice’s birthday party at a Mexican restaurant in Northridge, CA.  It was a dream come true and a great honor for me, that Ronnie was so personable and down to earth, but even went out of his way to buy me a drink when Claude told Ronnie that I was singing for him at the time.  I later went with Claude to see Dio perform at the Galaxy Theater with Tracy G.  I told Claude that nothing could top the Dio The Last in Line Tour concert I saw in Paris in 1984, except that Black and Blue concert in 1980.   I also told this to Vinny when we went to his house later that night after his birthday party.

In 2004 I met RJD and Craig Goldy backstage at Scorpions/Whitesnake at Universal Ampitheater and Ronnie remembered me.  Unlike the NAMM shows where Ronnie is always mobbed signing autographs and I never really had the chance to speak with him there.  This time was different.  I told Ronnie that I saw many of his great performances including a show at the Greek Theatre when Anthrax was opening as I was walking in from the parking lot.  I couldn’t believe that the place was more than half empty for Anthrax and less than 3/4 full for a Dio concert, but that didn’t matter, Dio still roared and commanded the stage.  I told Ronnie that I was amazed by his stage presence and persona, not just his great voice.  Then I asked Ronnie: What exactly are you thinking about when you are on that stage?  Ronnie looked at me straight in the eyes with pure tenacity and said to me “That’s MY Stage!!!!”  I’ll never forget that look that Ronnie gave me when he told me this and the honest talent and confidence that he possessed.  Ronnie wasn’t about ego, he was real people, with no BS.  I will always remember Ronnie not only for his soaring voice and his medievel lyrics and great visual imagery, but for his great spirit and honest persona.  Ronnie was not afraid to tell it like it is, but he was a true gentleman and had great class.  I was blessed with the opportunity to know Ronnie James Dio personally and he was a wonderful person, who was willing to be completely honest with me and share his knowledge and experience.  For that I have a deep respect for him for the way he treated me.  Ronnie James Dio was a true four star General of Rock Royalty. Ronnie James Dio was to Heavy Metal what Elvis was to Rock ‘n’ Roll!!!!  Ronnie James Dio is The King Of Heavy Metal!!!!

My sincere condolences and support to Wendy Dio, Rock Feinstein and to Ronnie’s family and friends for your great loss.  Ronnie, Thank you for rocking hard til the end!  You are the true Hero of Heavy Metal! and an inspiration to us all for generations!!!!

Farewell DIO Great King Of Heavy Metal,

/Neil T

RIP Ronnie James Dio 1942-2010


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