Viking's Choice

Ronnie James Dio: Remembering A Vocal Cannon

Ronnie James Dio i i

A venerated heavy-metal singer, Ronnie James Dio was a voice of triumph in the pits of bitterness and depravity. Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Entertainnment hide caption

itoggle caption Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Entertainnment
Ronnie James Dio

A venerated heavy-metal singer, Ronnie James Dio was a voice of triumph in the pits of bitterness and depravity.

Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Entertainnment

Ronnie James Dio was a voice of triumph in the pits of heavy metal's bitterness and depravity. An untrained vocalist, Dio possessed a melodic and powerful voice; as much a siren as it was a clarion call of heavy-metal fantasy. After a six-month struggle with stomach cancer, Dio died Sunday morning. He was 67.

In college, my friend Jace instigated the "Dio Cannon," a figurative musical weapon unleashed upon parties, unnecessary boredom and, well, LiveJournal (hey, it was the mid-2000s). Dreading going out and seeing your ex snog some deadbeat? Let's "Turn Up the Night" with Black Sabbath. About to wage epic battle upon a term paper? Well "ride the tiger" and blast Dio's "Holy Diver" as you commune with the verse of William Blake — one of metal's proto-lyricists if there ever was one.


Dio had planned to tour with the re-christened Black Sabbath as Heaven and Hell this summer, and as the video below demonstrates, the man was a metal god until the very end. (The German audience singing the opening notes to "Heaven and Hell" is quite beautiful and chilling, by the way). But calling upon the name of Dio was and is a celebration. Metalheads may shed tears this day, but we raise our horns in remembrance.

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