R is for Rainbow/Ronnie James Dio
I debated doing the punk band Rancid, because I LOVED them in the late 90s/early 2000s, and it turned out my husband did as well. We never got to see them but we did see one of their bandmates’ groups, Lars, with his offshoot group, Lars Fredericksson and the Bastards. They opened for Dropkick Murphys at a tiny venue here in Tallahassee and he took me on my 24th birthday.
As I tried to fall asleep last night, I realized that the R I needed to detail was the above. It’s more about Dio himself but since Rainbow was his band, it works.
I first became aware of his music because everyone knows Holy Diver but I wasn’t really in the know about Ronnie. Turns out he had quite a few bands. With Rainbow, I loved these two:
That last one has the cool 70s funk sound that was pretty popular at the time but with Ronnie’s voice, it’s different somehow.
With Dio, I am very fond of this one:
I don’t even remember when I knew that Ronnie was the guy who took over for Ozzy in Sabbath but as I got older and really started working my way through their songbook, I found that I appreciate Dio Sabbath in many ways. Maybe even more so than the Ozzy years, as sacrilege as that may seem. By the time Ronnie took over, it became a lot more produced, cleaner in a way. Here’s one of my faves:
The thing I love about Ronnie is that he seemed like a very genuine guy. Like he meant well. I also loved how his bands always had themes of fantasy about them. (One youtuber I follow calls it “hobbit rock”; lol) Maybe that’s the appealing aspect: there’s nothing at stake; it’s all a story.
Another thing I love about him is the controversy over who “invented” the metal horns.
Every story I ever heard was that his Italian grandmother showed it to him because she was told it warded off evil spirits. In controversy though, Geezer Butler of Sabbath claims that he showed it to Ronnie and he ran with it because Ozzy always gave the peace sign on stage and Ronnie needed something different. Whatever the case, the devil horns became synonymous with him. The ironic part being that people not in the know tend to signify them with the devil, even though it was protection from. That’s funny to me.
If you interview any metal signer, they will probably list Ronnie as one of their heroes or influences. Sadly, Ronnie passed away from cancer in 2010. It was a pretty big deal, given how many bands and musicians he affected. 2020 would have been the 6th annual Ride for Ronnie, a charity motorcycle ride organized by his wife. It was postponed due to covid but it will hopefully be back on this year, since we know people aren’t magically contracting this from some deadly miasma.
Anyway, this is one of those artists I don’t ever tire of; a staple of my music library and he was a legend in this genre. A true forefather.