Yesterday saw the passing of Ronnie James Dio, one of Rock’s most powerful voices. He hit the big time when he teamed up with Ex-Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore in 1975 to form Rainbow, and then ensconced himself into the hearts of heavy metal fans forever by taking Ozzy Osborne’s place as the lead singer with Black Sabbath in 1980. He formed his own band as well in the 80s. The larger than life growling voice didn’t seem to fit such a diminutive man, but it could not be mistaken for any other.
Dio sang much of the battle between good and evil, and is credited with making popular the hand signal of the “Devil Horns” you’ll often see at heavy metal concerts. But far from encouraging evil, he said he got this from his Italian grandmother which was a signal to ward away evil.
My favorite songs of Dio came in an unlikely setting. He was asked by Kerry Livgren , lead guitarist for the group Kansas, to sing a couple songs on his 1980 Seeds of Change album. The two songs, “Mask of the Great Deceiver” and “To Live for the King” are spectacular heavy rock and roll songs that find Ronnie James Dio glorifying God. And it doesn’t surprise me he was willing to sing them.