The sad news today of the death of singer Ronnie James Dio from stomach cancer at the age of 67. The singer had been a member of Ricthie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Black Sabbath (where he replaced Ozzy Osbourne) and well as fronting his own bands Elf, Dio and Heaven & Hell. I saw Dio as part of Rainbow at Newcastle City Hall in 1977 – he was the original singer in the band that Ritchie Blackmore formed after leaving Deep Purple. He co-wrote much of the excellent debut album simply called Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. This album has been a long time favourite of mine especially for the track The Temple of the King, which sadly they didn’t play when I saw them.
One day, in the year of the fox
Came a time remembered well,
When the strong young man of the rising sun
Heard the tolling of the great black bell.
One day in the year of the fox,
When the bell began to ring,
It meant the time had come for one to go
To the temple of the king.
In my opinion Rainbow only made two decent albums, the first two, the ones that Ronnie James Dio sang on! I still prefer the first one to the somewhat overblown second album Rainbow Rising, so much so that when I got divorced I grabbed it back off my wife when she tried to claim it was hers!!
She was a big fan of the little bloke and it was probably only because of this that we went to see Black Sabbath twice while he was lead singer, once in Newcastle and once in a god awful venue in Leeds. I had seen Sabbath with Ozzy and no matter how much I liked Mr Dio I don’t think he could fill the gap left by Ozzies departure. I did take some photographs of Sabbath with Dio at the City Hall at that gig I will have to see if I can dig them out.
At some point when we still lived in Sunderland we went down to London to see a band and Val and I had to return home early because of some commitment where as my brother and his mates spent the following day in London before getting the train back. She had joked that she bet they met someone famous and indeed while wandering around who should they bump into but RJD – they got him to sign a postcard for her. However I should point out that they originally thought he was the singer out of the Scorpions!
A sad day for rock music as one of it’s truly original voices has been silenced.