Whether you are a fan of Ronnie James Dio or not, there’s no denying he was a true rock icon. Going back to 1957, Dio’s career brought him from humble beginnings around the age of 15, when he formed up with a group of local musicians in the small central New York city of Cortland, and called themselves The Vegas Kings.
It’s kind of strange to think of someone so well-known as a heavy-duty rocker playing in a band during 1957, just a year or so after Elvis Presley first recorded, but it’s an interesting way to recognize just how long he was devoted to making music.
It can probably be said that Dio’s real break came in 1975 when he was recruited by Ritchie Blackmore to join Rainbow. Dio recorded four albums with Rainbow before leaving the group in 1978 and later replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath.
Ultimately, Dio formed his own band of the same name during 1982. Dio the band endured more than its share of personnel changes, but pressed on recording new material right up until 2004 when they released Master of The Moon.
In a statement on the band’s official website, Dio’s wife Wendy wrote: “Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.”
Diagnosed with stomach cancer in November of 2009, Dio’s battle with the disease played out in an all-too-familiar way, with signs of hope and progress that eventually waned, and gave way to the tragedy that cancer inflicts on far too many lives.
Ronnie James Dio passed away peacefully on the morning of May 16, 2010. Fans can express their condolences on Dio’s Facebook page.