It is hard to believe that it was one year ago today that we lost a true metal legend in Ronnie James Dio, but it has been a full year now. I know that I am obligated to write something about Ronnie, but I am not even sure what to write at this point. What he has meant to me musically is beyond words. It really is hard to put my thoughts and feelings into a written format. Whatever I do will never equal what he has done for me.
I know that a lot of people will be writing about Ronnie today, so this will probably be one of 1,000 posts on the Web remembering the legend. My post will probably only be read for a few hundred people anyway, but like I said, I feel obligated. Dio was someone who was so ingrained in the metal community that his life (and death) should never be forgotten.
You are talking about someone who started performing in the 1950s and was still performing up until a few years ago. And by the way, he was still bringing it a few years ago too. My last chance to see Dio live was with Heaven and Hell. I had seen him live so many times, and of course, I would have never thought that this would be the last time, but I remember looking at him and saying, “God damn, I just hope that I look like him when I am 60-something.”
Speaking of that Heaven and Hell concert, a testament to how much he means to me is that I was actually front and center for the concert. Now that I am in my 30s (okay really in my late 30s), I am happy attending a concert, but staying in the background. I am in no mood for moshing with people have my age and I do not want to constantly get bumped from left to right from people trying to get by on the floor. I am plenty happy getting a nice place to stand and seeing the show in peace. For Heaven and Hell, I was right up front. There was never a second thought put to it. I had to be up there to feel the power that Ronnie still put out there.
Another show that I remember was in Camden, NJ. I believe that it was the Tweeter Center. That freaking arena changes its name far too often to keep track. Anyway, Dio was opening for Maiden. That was a strange night for me as it was because I locked my keys in the car and had to wait for a locksmith to come and get my keys out. I was hoping and preying that I would still make it in to see Dio. I ended up missing two songs I believe. The point of the story is that, once Ronnie came offstage, I went to the bathroom and there were some older guys in there talking about how there were not even there to see Dio, but could not believe how awesome the show was. They were floored that he still sounded like he did in his 30s.
One of my most memorable concerts was seeing Dio on the Strange Highways tour. Most people would find this to be odd because Traci G. was the worst guitar player that Dio worked with, but that show was freaking killer. Dio was in rare form. He had so much passion for that album. You could hear it in songs like Pain. He has always been all about the passion, but there was something special about that album. It will never rival Holy Diver or Last Line, but I still listen to that one quite often. You should have heard Dio belt out the classics that night. It was something else. The Black Sabbath songs were unreal. The Rainbow songs were heavier than they had ever been. The night was simply magical, and magical is always a great way to describe Dio.
I really thought about posting slideshows and video montages to honor Dio’s life, but that will be done a million times today (as well it should be). I went the route of bringing it to you from the heart and I hope that it brings some memories up for you as well.