Friday, May 18, 2007

Ronnie James Dio

All right, I know… Up to now The Big 80’s has been playing it a bit soft, a bit new wave. A lot of fancy clothing and flash. Well time to change all that with this next entry. It’s time for some serious hard rock. I’m not talking about wanabees such as Van Halen, or Ratt. Time to kick it up a notch with a legend among rockers.

Holy Diver

Rainbow In The Dark

Ronnie James Dio (born Ronald James Padavona on July 10, 1942 (most likely year, see below), in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA), is a heavy metal vocalist who has performed with Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and his own band Dio. Other musical projects include the collective fundraiser Hear 'n Aid. He is renowned for his consistently powerful voice. On January 17, 2007, he was inducted into the Rock Walk of Fame (along with Velvet Revolver guitarist Slash, and Frank Zappa/Missing Persons drummer Terry Bozzio), at Guitar Center on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard.

Early years
Ronnie James Dio was born Ronald James Padavona, an only child to a family of Italian heritage. The family moved to Cortland, New York early on in his life. His parents raised him in the Roman Catholic church, an experience he ultimately found unsatisfactory.[1]
He initially played the trumpet and even recorded several singles with various rockabilly bands when he was a kid. When he was in high school, he joined a band called The Vegas Kings, in which he played the bass guitar. He eventually became the lead singer of this band, which changed its name to Ronnie & The Rumblers and finally to Ronnie And The Red Caps. Their first 7-inch single was released in 1958.

Ronnie took up the name "Dio" after mafia member Johnny Dio, and first used it professionally in the early 1960s, playing in a band called Ronnie Dio and the Prophets. This was essentially the same band as Ronnie And The Red Caps, but with a different name. Dio is the Italian word for God.

Many of the details of Dio's early life are not known for certain. Some say he earned a degree in pharmacology and was offered but declined a position at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music, but this has not been verified by independent sources.

Ronnie Dio and the Prophets disbanded in 1967, but he and Prophets guitarist Nick Pantas started a new band called the Electric Elves. They shortened their name to Elf in 1969, and went on to become an opening act for Deep Purple. Dio's vocals caught the ear of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and when Blackmore left the band, he recruited Dio and other members of Elf to form Rainbow. Rainbow released its first album in 1975. Dio recorded two more albums with Rainbow, but he left the band due to creative differences: Blackmore had wanted to take the band in a more commercial direction.

After leaving Rainbow, Dio joined Black Sabbath in 1979, replacing Ozzy Osbourne. Dio gave a new jumpstart to Black Sabbath's commercially sagging career with the hugely popular Heaven and Hell album. It was during his time with Black Sabbath that he popularized the "devil's horns" gesture. Dio says that his grandmother used to make the hand gesture to ward off the evil eye, which is very common among superstitious Southern Italians. The "horns," or "Corna," themselves are used to both scare away and give someone the "Malocchio" (the Evil Eye). In 1982, during the mixing of the live album Live Evil, internal band problems and nasty accusations developed, which led to Dio and drummer Vinnie Appice quitting the band to form Dio.

Despite being known for his powerful singing voice, Dio claims never to have taken any vocal training.

Dio married his first wife, Loretta Berardi (born 1941), sometime in the 1960s. They adopted one son, Dan Padavona (born July 1968), who works as a meteorologist in Binghamton, New York.

Then, he married Wendy Gaxiola (born 1947), who also serves as his manager. Not much else is known about Wendy or their family. Also, in the 1980s she managed the Los Angeles rock bands Rough Cutt and Hellion.

Age dispute
There is a long-standing dispute regarding Dio's age. His most likely birth year is 1942. Dio himself has said in the past that he was born July 10, 1949 and, at other times, outright refused to give the year of his birth. The general consensus is that the 1942 date is probably correct, due to the following:

The United States Library of Congress copyright searches for both Ronnie James Dio and Ronald James Padavona material both return listings invariably citing the 1942 birthdate.
He was in his first band in 1958, which means that if the 1949 date were correct, he would have been 9 years old. This would be unlikely, but not impossible. (Dio has also said that he started his first group around age 10). According to classmates from his high school, and reportedly also a yearbook, which is available in the reference section of the Cortland City Library show a Ronald James Padavona graduated from Cortland High School in 1960. He would have graduated high school a few days before his 11th birthday if he was born in 1949. He was also his senior class president and was voted most popular. His first band photos, with "Ronnie and the Red Caps" from ca. 1960 or 1961, are also widely circulated on the Internet. In the photo, he looks to be somewhere in his mid teens, and probably older than the 12 years old he would have been, if the 1949 birth date were correct.

British-born/Australian-based singer Graham Bonnet, who replaced Dio in Rainbow, has said that Ronnie is younger than he. Bonnet was born September 23, 1947. However, in a 2005 interview, while discussing guitarist and former bandmate, Ritchie Blackmore, Dio said that Ritchie "isn't that much younger" than him. Blackmore was born in 1945. Online public records searches (done in 2005) list Dio as 64 years old under the name "Ronald Padavona" and as 57 years old under the name "Ronnie James Dio". Another search shows a "Ronald and Wendy Padavona" in Studio City, CA (presumably a business address), ages 64 and 58 (as of February, 2006), which would fit with the assumed birth years of 1942 and 1947 for Dio and his wife, Wendy. This also suggests that Dio's legal name is still Ronald Padavona. Interestingly, Blackmore has said that Ronnie is younger than him at other times, although this could easily be attributed to Dio's maintaining a false birth date that Blackmore (and others who know Dio) assumed was correct. In an article on Black Sabbath in an issue of Circus magazine ("Black Sabbath Pray For Brighter Days") in the spring of 1982, Dio's age is listed as 33. This would seem to support a birth date of 1948, since the interview appeared before Dio's July birthday. Again, if Dio had been giving an incorrect date of birth for years, it's not out of the question that this number is also wrong.

As a result, most of Dio's fans agree that the 1942 date is the most likely the correct one. The 1949 date is second most likely. 1944 is another possible date, and 1947, 1940, 1939, and even 1937, but there is no real evidence to back these dates up. The age of Ronnie and his son also builds the case for 1942, although a 20 year age difference was not that rare in the 1960s. In one interview, Dio was very emphatic about the 1949 year, saying, "Well, I was born in '49, and I never told anybody anything other than that."

Band timeline
The Vegas Kings (1957-1958)
Ronnie & The Rumblers (1958)
Ronnie and the Red Caps (1958-1961)
Ronnie Dio and the Prophets (1961-1967)
The Electric Elves (1967)
The Elves (1968)
Elf (1969-1976)
Rainbow (1974-1979)
Kerry Livgren (1980; guest vocals on "To Live For the King" and "Mask Of The Great Deceiver")
Black Sabbath (1979-1983; 1991-1992)
Dio (1982-1991, 1993-present)
Ian Gillan (2006; guest vocals on "Day Late And A Dollar Short")
Heaven and Hell (2006-present; collaboration with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice)

Dio performed vocals on the 1974 UK single 'Love is All' taken from Roger Glover's concept album 'The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast'. The song has been used recently by the Dutch political party CDA in its election ads for the 2006 Dutch General Election. Dio also provided vocals for the songs 'Homeward' and 'Sitting in a dream' on Glover's album.
In 1997, Dio made a cameo on Pat Boone's "In a Metal Mood", an album of famous heavy metal songs played in Big Band style. Dio can be heard singing backup on Boone's take of the Dio song, "Holy Diver."

Ronnie James Dio is about 5'4" tall. In a photo appearance with Black Sabbath Ronnie stood on a ledge so as to appear the same height as his bandmates.

There was a short-lived effort to elect Ronnie James Dio as President of the United States in the 2004 election. Nothing came of this, and the website promoting him at the time is no longer in operation. A new campaign has begun for the 2008 election and the progress can be tracked at the dio4president page.

As a character, Ronnie James Dio appeared in the third season episode of South Park titled "Hooked on Monkey Phonics", playing "Holy Diver" at the school dance. Ronnie James Dio himself did not provide the character's speaking voice.

Dio Brando, the primary antagonist of the manga series Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, is named after Ronnie James Dio. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is known for its multitude of music references.

Although Dio is considered the creator of the "devil's horns" as a heavy metal symbol, some argue that it originated from Kiss' Love Gun album cover from 1977, which shows Gene Simmons doing the sign. However, Simmons extends his thumb which is sign language for "love."

Ronnie Dio and the Prophets
Dio at Dominos (1963)
Black Sabbath
Heaven and Hell (1980)
Mob Rules (1981)
Live Evil (1982)
Dehumanizer (1992)
The Dio Years (2007)
Live at Hammersmith Odeon (2007)
Holy Diver (1983)
The Last in Line (1984)
Sacred Heart (1985)
Intermission (1986)
Dream Evil (1987)
Lock up the Wolves (1990)
Strange Highways (1994)
Angry Machines (1996)
Inferno - Last in Live (1998)
Magica (2000)
Killing the Dragon (2002)
Master of the Moon (2004)
Evil Or Divine - Live in NYC (2005)
Holy Diver - Live (2006)
Elf (1972)
Carolina County Ball (1974)
Trying to Burn the Sun (1975}
The Gargantuan (1978)
Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (1975)
Rising (1976)
On Stage (1977)
Long Live Rock 'n' Roll (1978)
Finyl Vinyl (1986)
Live in Germany (1996)

External links
Official website

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