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Ronnie James Dio… caught the rainbow

music Updated: May 20, 2010 13:45 IST
Luke Kenny
Luke Kenny
Hindustan Times
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The year was 1979 and news of Ozzy Osbourne being fired from Black Sabbath was doing the rounds much to the chagrin of Sabbath and metal fans across the globe. And for a short time, it seemed that the band, as it stood, was over.

But then a lady called Sharon Arden, who was the daughter of then Sabbath manager, Don Arden, suggested the singer from the newly broken up Rainbow to replace Ozzy. (Sharon Arden went on to marry Ozzy and is today the Sharon Osbourne we all know).

So a meeting was arranged and Tony Iommi, Bill Ward and Geezer Butler instantly took a liking to this little man with a weird looking stare. He was Ronnie James Dio. And for the next 20 years, he would be a part of one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time.

Having already been in one legendary band, Rainbow, to joining another, Black Sabbath, it was only natural that the urge to establish himself as a solo entity surfaced.

So while alliances with Sabbath happened from time to time, Ronnie went out on his own as a solo artist. He formed his own band under his name Dio and had a tremendously successful career with over 14 studio albums to his name.

In any compilation of great rock or metal songs the following tracks will always appear: Man On A Silver Mountain, Long Live Rock ‘N Roll, Catch The Rainbow, Heaven and Hell, Holy Diver, All the fools Sailed Away and the legendary Temple Of The King. And these are all, obviously songs that have the voice of Dio in them.

Ronnie James Dio and his contribution to modern heavy metal has never been fully recognised.

Rainbow, Black Sabbath (post Ozzy) and his own solo efforts, have all laid the solid foundations of metal that every single band since, has either been influenced or inspired by. But now it will be, I guess.

We always recognise the importance of things when the person has passed. By the way, did you know, that Ronnie was the one to pioneer the rock sign of the two external fingers of the hand outstretched with the rest of the fingers in a fist? m/. Ronnie James Dio was a rocker to the end, his last release being the album The Devil You Know, with his original Black Sabbath line-up of Heaven and Hell, the first album he did with them in 1980. In fact, the bond was so deep that the band renamed itself after the album instead of going out there as Black Sabbath.

One of my favourite Dio songs is a song called Catch the Rainbow, from the first album Ronnie did with Ritchie Blackmore in 1975, called Ritchie Blackmores Rainbow. The lyrics to the chorus are,

We believed we’d catch the rainbow
Ride the wind to the sun
Sail away on ships of wonder,
But life’s not a wheel
With chains made of steel
So bless me come the dawn

...and somewhere within these cryptic lines, lies the soul of Ronnie James Dio who for a short while was one of the bright (dark) colours of the Heavy Metal rainbow…if I may say so.