Ronnie James Dio (born Ronaldo Padavona) was an Italian American heavy metal vocalist and songwriter. He fronted numerous groups including Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, and his own band, Dio.
Dio's musical career began in 1957 when several Cortland, New York musicians formed the band, The Vegas Kings. The group's lineup consisted of Dio on bass guitar, Nick Pantas on guitar, Tom Rogers on drums, and Jack Musci on saxophone.
In 1958, the band again changed their name from Ronnie & The Rumblers to Ronnie and the Redcaps. The Redcaps released two singles: The first single was "Conquest"/"Lover" with the A-side being an instrumental reminiscent of The Ventures and the B-side featuring DeWolfe on lead vocals. The second single was "An Angel Is Missing"/"What'd I Say" which featured Dio on lead vocals for both tracks.
Padavona first used name 'Dio' on a recording in 1960, when he added it to the band's second release on Seneca.
Soon after that the band modified their name to Ronnie Dio and the Prophets. The Prophets lineup lasted for several years, touring throughout the New York region and playing college fraternity parties. They produced one single for Atlantic and one album. Some of the singles (such as "Mr. Misery", released on Swan) were labeled as being by Ronnie Dio as a solo artist even if the rest of the Prophets contributed to the recording. The group released several singles during the following years, until early 1967. Dio continued to use his birth name on any songwriting credits on those releases.
In late 1967 Ronnie Dio and the Prophets transformed into a new band called The Electric Elves and added a keyboard player. Following recovery from a deadly car accident in February 1968 (which killed guitarist Nick Pantas and put Dio and other band members in the hospital briefly), the group shortened its name to The Elves and used that name until mid 1972 when it released its first proper album under the name Elf. Over the next few years, the group went on to become a regular opening act for Deep Purple. Elf recorded three albums until the members' involvement recording the first Rainbow album in early 1975 resulted in Elf disbanding.
Blackmore decided to recruit more of Elf's musicians and form his own band, primarily known as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. They released the self-entitled debut album "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow" in early 1975. After that, Dio recorded two studio albums ("Rising" and "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll") and one live album ("On Stage") with Blackmore. During his tenure with Rainbow, Dio and Blackmore were the only constant members. Dio is credited on those albums for all lyrical authorship as well as collaboration with Blackmore on musical arrangement. Dio and Blackmore split with Blackmore taking the band in a more commercial direction, with Graham Bonnet on vocals and the album "Down to Earth".
Dio left Rainbow in 1979 and soon joined Black Sabbath, replacing the fired Ozzy Osbourne. Dio met Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi by chance at The Rainbow on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1979. Both men were in similar situations, as Dio was seeking a new project and Iommi required a vocalist. The pair kept in touch via telephone, until Dio arrived at Iommi's Los Angeles house for a relaxed, getting-to-know-you jam session. On that first day the duo wrote the song "Children Of The Sea" which would appear on the "Heaven and Hell" album, the first the band recorded with Dio as vocalist in 1980.
The follow-up album, "Mob Rules", featured new drummer Vinny Appice. Personality conflicts began emerging within the band. In 1982, conflict arose over the mixing of the "Live Evil" album. Iommi asserted that the album's engineer began complaining to him that he would work all day long on a mix, only to have Dio return to the studio at night to "do his own mix" in which his vocals were more prominent. Dio denied doing anything of the sort. The conflict led to Dio and Appice ultimately quitting the band later that year.
Wanting to continue together as a band, Ronnie James Dio and Vinnie Appice formed Dio, the band, in 1982. On guitar played Vivian Campbell and on bass Jimmy Bain, the latter whom he had known since the old Rainbow days. Their debut album, "Holy Diver", included the hit singles "Rainbow in the Dark" and the title track, "Holy Diver". That lineup recorded three albums, before the band changed members over the years and leaving Dio as the only original member. Except a few breaks, Dio, the band, was always touring or recording. They released ten albums, with "Master of the Moon" being the last one, recorded in 2004.
In October 2006, it was confirmed that Dio would be joining Black Sabbath members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and former Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice to tour under the moniker Heaven & Hell, the title of the first Dio era Black Sabbath album. In 2008, the band completed a 98-date world tour. The band released one album under the Heaven & Hell name, "The Devil You Know", to critical and commercial acclaim.
On May 4, 2010, Heaven & Hell announced they were canceling all summer dates as a result of Dio's ill health. His last live performance was with Heaven & Hell on August 29, 2009, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Dio died at 7:45 am (CDT) on May 16, 2010, of metastasized stomach cancer.
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