Just posted to the forum at ronniejamesdio.com.
Since Monday, all my waking hours at home have been filled with the voice of Ronnie James Dio. Until this moment, that’s as much tribute as I’ve managed; you see, I heard the news of his passing at 5:30 Monday morning, one hour after my first grandson was born. (I’d updated my Facebook status & messaged my partner, Miss Apple Pie, about the good news. Before long she was at my side with personal congratulations; she’d heard about RJD’s passing while on her way over.)
I haven’t been as devoted a fan as others, either. I was 14 when I first heard The Last in Line. I was quickly introduced to Holy Diver, Heaven and Hell & Mob Rules; Sacred Heart, Intermission & Dream Evil followed, earning respected spots in my listening habit, & Ronnie’s voice became a major part of the soundtrack of my youth.
Then I got to college. My musical world opened up to Prince, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits… the list goes on. Much of my 80s vinyl collection has been neither revisited nor contemplated nostalgically in any way.
Ronnie’s music is one of those rare exceptions. From the machine-gun snare intro of We Rock, to the staccato beginning of the lead guitar passage in Egypt, to the screaming crowd bookending King of Rock’n’Roll, to the mesmerizing 3D effect of the gunshot leading into Shoot Shoot, there are so many wonderful musical moments that are burnt into my memory & each has a unique quality in my reminiscence.
And then there’s his voice. All the Fools Sailed Away. One Night in the City. Stand Up and Shout. Neon Knights. Man on the Silver Mountain. Voodoo. I Speed at Night. Like the Beat of a Heart. And, more recently, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
And who didn’t squeal all tween-girl-like when he popped out of Jack Black’s poster in The Pick of Destiny? If any moment honoured Mr. Dio’s place as a pop culture icon, that was it.
Now that I’m older, I’m able to recognize that, on top of his scary-impressive voice, a major part of RJD’s talent was in writing & singing lyrics about swords & sorcery with subtext that was universal; Egypt’s Chains Are On us, our ‘Evil’ Eyes seek knowledge of the world & ourselves, we are the Night People who are lighting our lives with the artificial light of TV & computer screens… I could go on.
I will conclude with his own words:
“Race for the morning;
you can hide in the sun
till you see the light.
We will pray it’s all right (gotta get away).
Between the velvet lies
there’s a truth that’s hard as steel.
The vision never dies;
life’s a never ending wheel.”
Ronnie, you are the Holy Diver, an inspiration to everyone you’ve left behind. Thank-you for sharing yourself with us.
In loving fandom,
William Brian MacLean