Sunday, May 16, 2010

Legend Lost: RIP Ronnie James Dio:

Heavy metal legend Ronnie James Dio has died.

He was 67.

One of my life regrets, now I guess, is that I didn't see him. I actually planned on seeing him in the next year or two with Heaven & Hell, the name of Black Sabbath with Dio.

I've worked like a dog these last 5 years; this is my fifth and final untenured year. Tenure, which I've been granted, kicks in next Fall. I haven't been in the mood to see many shows these last few years. Though I try to see Kansas every year. I had to drag myself to see Kansas last fall in Trenton, their final symphonic date. That memory was captured via a wonderful bootleg (check out what the digital age has done for bootlegs).

I guess this is teaching me not to put off things I want to do.

Dio was notable not just for his immense talent as a vocalist, but also as one who lost little if any of his tone and range as he aged. It's understandable that after 20, 30, 40 years of touring and singing/screaming at the top of their lungs would wear on a rocker's voice. Opera singers tend not to have this problem because they sing with a regimented technique (they do things the "right" way). And I suspect that rock vocalists whose voices last do something similar.

I use Dio as an example for bodily gestures in my Global Environment of Business class. He notably introduced the "maliok" (devil's horns) as a symbol of heavy metal. Of Italian ancestry, the maliok is part of that heritage. It represents warding off of evil spirits (it's actually a lucky charm). Dio admittedly learned the maliok from his traditional Italian grandmother. This shows how cultures and subcultures borrow from one another. (One of my students told me one of the Latino gangs has adopted it as their hand gesture.)

With that, here are some videos of Dio at his best. Here is "Heaven and Hell" from 2007 which shows how impressive he was as a metal vocalist in his mid-60s.

Here is the 80s video for "Last in Line." This has such an 80s feel to it.

Here is Ronnie with Deep Purple, "Sitting in a Dream":

Finally, to make the Kansas connection, here is Dio singing about Satan from an evangelical Christian perspective for Kerry Livgren's solo work. "Mask of the Great Deceiver":

Ronnie James Dio, you will be missed.

1 comment:

Bob Andelman said...

Ronnie James Dio fans might also enjoy this lost interview with the singer from May 22, 1986 on Mr. Media Radio.