Another classic melodic metal set, musically speaking Holy Diver deliberately drew Dio’s work with both Rainbow and Sabbath and sold accordingly. The album nestled in at Number 5 in the Kerrang! Kritics’ Poll in December of that year, and would go gold in the U.S. very soon afterwards, underlining that Dio has now established himself on his own terms. The next few years would act as confirmation of that fact with a string of albums that included the platinum-selling The Last In Line (1984), Sacred Heart (1985) and Dream Evil (1987).
At the dawn of the ‘90s Dio would also return to collaborate with Black Sabbath, first on the Dehumaniser in 1992 and, then, as a member of Heaven & Hell, the band he formed with Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and drummer Vinny Appice in 2006.
He was playing with Heaven & Hell when he received his diagnosis in 2009. Initially, his treatment seemed to work and the prognosis was good. When the cancer spread to his liver, however, it became obvious that his condition was terminal.
Dio’s death on May 16, 2010, was met with tributes from across the rock world. Taking to Metallica.com, Lars Ulrich detailed the time he’d seen both Elf and Rainbow play live in his youth.
"Ronnie, your voice impacted and empowered me, your music inspired and influenced me, and your kindness touched and moved me. Thank you,” said the Metallica drummer.
“Ronnie sang like he lived - all out, from the heart, with so much honesty and joy,” added Slipknot’s Corey Taylor. “He was a great man with a smile and a handshake for fans and peers alike. He spoke his mind and stood his ground for decades. I will miss him dearly."
Killswitch Engage – who scored a U.S. hit with their 2006 cover of Holy Diver – issued a band statement, stating: “He is truly a musician's musician; a model for the new school to aspire towards.”
And now, over a decade on from his death, there is indeed a new generation of musicians and of fans out there – some of whom are just beginning to discover the man and his music. Regardless of whether you’re just getting into him, or whether you’re a long-time fan of his work, today is the day to celebrate one of the greatest singers of all-time.
Long live rock’n’roll! Long live Ronnie James Dio!