The photo on the left was from the tour program I bought at the only show of his I saw. This picture captures the essence of his stage persona. He was 10 feet tall on stage and he gave an amazing performance that nigh.
What I have been remembering the most about Ronnie James Dio in the last couple of days was the way his songs and style reached out to every heavy metal fan who ever felt disenfranchised, left out, not good enough or just plain ignored. As a not-yet-out-of-the-closet fan of Dio's in my teens, the message resonated with me as well, just not quite in the way it did for most of his other fans. So many heavy metal/hard rock singers can trace their singing style back to Dio's. Though my own voice will never have the gruffness and operatic flair, I can easily tap in to the emotions conveyed through his voice. To get a flavor for where his influenced reached in the world of heavy metal, a quick search through You Tube will bring you to songs like these:
"Holy Diver" cover by Killswitch Engage. My favorite cover of the bunch. They made this song their own without washing away the essence of the original.
A very faithful cover of "We Rock" by BlackOz
"Bible Black" by Heaven and Hell:
Thanks to Eddie Trunk for playing "Bible Black" on his Sirius show earlier today. It was recorded just a couple of years ago when Dio was only 65. He never lost the power in his voice -- almost unheard of for a singer of that age.
Finally, my favorite Dio song, which betrays my love of pop music in the guise of rock and roll. I've been singing it at the top of my lungs driving around in the car the last couple of days and cannot get through it with out tearing up. Especially at these lyrics toward the end of the song:
I could have been a dreamer / I could have been a shooting starI could have been a dreamer / 'Cause dreams are what we areI could have been a dreamer / I could have been the one to flyI always could have been a dreamer / 'Cause dreamers never die, no
His physical presence may be gone, but when I listen to the music and close my eyes, I'm suddenly back in time 25 years in Baltimore.
We should all have someone who can take us away with a song and a show bigger than life. Ronnie James Dio did that for me. I cannot express how much that means to me and, I'm sure, to all of his fans.