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Ronnie James Dio, lead singer of Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Dio, dies [Updated]

Influential heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio, best known for his iconic wailing for Black Sabbath and, before that, Rainbow, has died of stomach cancer. His death was announced via a statement on his website from wife Wendy Dio, which read:

Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever. -- Wendy Dio

[Updated at 2:45 p.m.: Dio's stomach cancer diagnosis became public in late 2009. Earlier this year, the artist announced that a planned European tour with his band Heaven & Hell would have to be canceled due to his declining health. Dio, however, was able to appear in Los Angeles at an early April  metal event sponsored by hard rock magazine Revolver, where he spoke of the challenges of dealing with chemotherapy. 

"I never realized what a difficult thing it was to go through," he said in a video interview with Artisan News. "It's a real cumulative effect -- the more you have, the more it piles up on top and it takes longer and longer to get over it. I find it very difficult to eat. I don't like to eat, anyway, so I guess that's OK. But I know I have to. But this makes it very, very hard. But if you're determined to beat it, then you have to go with what you believe is going to beat it for you."

Dio was born July 10, 1949, according to the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, yet there has long been dispute about his age. Fans have long put Dio's true birth date as the summer of 1942, and numerous reports of Dio's death have cited his age as 67.

Dio replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer of Black Sabbath, who left the band in 1979 after increasingly reckless behavior. Dio's first album with the group, "Heaven & Hell," has been certified platinum by industry trade body the RIAA, putting its total shipments at more than 1 million copies.  Soon after the release of 1981's "Mob Rules," Dio left Black Sabbath to start his own group, Dio.

Dio continued to record with his namesake group into this decade, and more recently had formed Heaven & Hell. The latter was essentially a reunion of the Obsourne-less Black Sabbath, and released the studio effort "The Devil You Know" in 2009. The Rhino album entered the U.S. pop chart at No. 8 after selling 30,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.]

The Times will continue to update this post with a more expansive look at one of the godfathers of heavy metal, but, for now, check out the above clip, eight minutes of Dio 101, which illustrates the breadth of Dio's powers. Every metal vocalist who's ever reached for an operatic note owes a debt to the master.

-- Randall Roberts and Todd Martens

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Comments () | Archives (77)

Oh, man. Dio rocks.

"Holy Diver" rocks me across the room. He'll be missed.

I wonder if he's got enough juice to be a Twitter trending topic...?

R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio!!!

This is truly a sad day for music. Ronnie was a LEGEND and an ICON. Without him, metal would be very different (and much lamer) today. Today reminds me of two other days in my life. The death of Joe Strummer. And the murder of Dimebag. I'll never forget today. Or Dio.

I can't believe this, Iv been listing and loving his music since I was basically born. His like one of my idols. His 67, that's a little too young to die...

riposa in pace Dio.

R.I. P. Metal Rock God Ronnie James Dio! Your music has been a part of so many great memories. May you Rock On in the afterlife!

Vaya con "Dios"

\m/ (><)\m/

Legands never die. Dio will be missed but never forgotten

Ronnie has passed the torch and taken his seat at the table of the Rock Gods.

Time is a never ending journey
Love is a never ending smile

This is a huge loss to me personally. I grew up listening to his tunes, and I was listening to Mob Rules today before I heard the bad news. Sad day.

Of all people to die it had to be Dio?

R.I.P Dio! You'll Rocker forever!

Ronnie has recieved his backstage pass from St. Peter to join all the music greats, whom Ronnie belongs to grace his presence with! My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this time. R.I.P. Ronnie

So sorry to hear this. BS with Dio in Long Beach 1982 was my first concert, just blew me away! Was able to see him in 2009 and he sounded just as great.

The rock world has lost a true pioneer in heavy metal vocalists.

Rock on Ronnie!!!!

God Bless.

RIP DIO! you really seemed to be as sincere off stage as you were on! you had alot of people pulling for you...


Ronnie was born in 1942 - he formed his first band in 1957, which makes the supposed 1949 birthdate seem unlikely.

RIP, Dio.

In everyone's life a little rain must fall. For Dio I guess that time was now.
I had the opportunity of seeing Dio preform during the last in Line tour. His stage persona was incredible but most of all his love for preforming showed in the way he expressed his talent live. He will be missed but its safe to say he was one of the greats that changed the way we hear Rock n Roll forever. I am sure that Dio understood his calling in life. His lyrical prowess demonstrated his uncanny ability to be in touch with the times. Thank you Dio for the many incredible songs that had such a positive influence in my life. May you rest in peace. from one artist to another thank you for the love you shared and for showing us a better way to live.

As a mega-fan for over 28 years now, the passing of not only the greatest heavy rock singer in history, but one of the greatest singers in musical history, PERIOD, is greatly distressing.

Rather than unending negativity, however, I would like to offer an incredible tribute to a man who lived a long life of accomplishment, musicality, and artistry, in the very most respectable manner possible.

While other artists would charge extremely high prices for their performances & meet & greets, Ronnie and his entire band, no matter which lineup or which exact band, would come & spend UNENDING hours after an exhausting show meeting EVERY request of EVERY fan, no matter how poor or how bad looking or how diminutive, Ronnie James Dio would take his personal time to make sure that & EVERY person waiting received personal attention, "majic" words, & an experience NONE of us would & still ever, ever forget.

So with this, I would to hereby state, it's not even the awesome music, highly intelligent lyrics, or amazing imagery that Ronnie should be remembered for, but rather his incredibly adept nature at connecting with everyday human beings, his amazing words of encouragement that have positively affected literally millions of people's lives, and most of all, his keen and God given gist for just plain old making people feel good & empowered in their own lives.

What more & better of an effect & remembrance can one human being have on the people and world he lived in & among.

Rest in peace, Ronnie, we love & remember & value you & we always will forever.

Be well, Wendy & Diane. Please try to take solace in the accomplishments & awesome existence Ronnie privileged us with & we could do no better than to carry his words & themes & mimes & characterizations & life themes with us forever.

If we do that, then Ronnie's life & existence will have been legitimized, and the entire world would be better for it.

Thank you & God Bless Ronnie James Dio for what he has brought & will continue to bring the world.

What sad, sad news. Ronnie's talent was exceded only by his humanity and decency as a person as anyone who knew him will attest. Ronnie had a warmth to him that radiated. Smart and genuine with a top notch BS detector he was one of the artists I really looked forward to welcoming to Rockline. But it's his friendship I'll miss the most. I'm going to really miss you Ronnie. Stay strong, Wendy. You're both in our prayers.

One of the greatest voices I have heard... my heart has been broken... G*d wanted you to fill his arena... Long live Dio!

rest in peace, Ronnie. love you forever.

This is very sad i loved dio and hoped he wouldve survived his cancer but sadly we lost a metal legend today RIP Ronnie James Dio

An amazing voice , a believer in music ... not only of rock but of all if you stand by your guns .. and also , quite simply one of the most genuine , open and generous people you could ever want to meet . He really will be missed .
Rock Hard Ronnie , Rock Hard .

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