Legendary heavy metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who fronted acts such as Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell and Rainbow throughout his prolific career, passed away at 7:45 am on Sunday as a result of complications related to the singer’s short battle with stomach cancer. He was 67.
Dio’s wife, Wendy Dio, released a short statement on her husband’s death via the singer’s website:
“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.
Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer in late November of 2009. He underwent a series of chemotherapy treatments, a treatment that, while initially reducing the size of the tumor in the singer’s stomach, ultimately failed to contribute to his recovery.
Heaven & Hell, Dio’s most recent active venture, cancelled plans for a summer tour earlier this month as a result of the frontman’s health. A statement released by the band addressed the issue:
“[Dio is not] well enough to tour this summer. We hope that everyone understands and want to thank fans and industry colleagues for their continuing support at this time.”
Dio had discussed his state of health shortly before his death in an interview with the Artisan News Service at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards on April 8.
“Well, I feel good and bad at times. It’s a long process. Chemotherapy is a… I never realized what a difficult thing it was to go through,” he said in the interview. “I have the best doctor in the world, Dr. Ajani, who I really trust and I really believe in, so I think I’ve done all the right things. It makes me feel positive about my life and positive that there is a lot more of it to live.”
Before Dio became a veritable metal God, he was born Ronald James Padavona on July 10, 1942 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Initially beginning his musical career by dabbling in rockabilly, he eventually began to make serious professional progress with his band Elf. Elf eventually began serving as the opening act for Deep Purple, an aspect that contributed to the formation of Dio’s next venture, Rainbow. Rainbow was put together by Ritchie Blackmore after he left the iconic rock group Deep Purple.
Dio left Rainbow in 1979, joining with Black Sabbath shortly thereafter. It was under Dio’s reign that the group released Heaven and Hell, an album that is largely credited with restarting Black Sabbath’s musical career.
While with Black Sabbath, Dio also branched out to solo work through his group Dio. Best known for their hit “Holy Diver,” which comes from Dio’s debut album of the same name, the group remained active until the singer’s death.
Heaven & Hell, a group comprised of Dio and former Black Sabbath members Tony Iommi, Vinny Appice and Geezer Butler, released one album entitled The Devil You Know in 2009.
The members of Heaven & Hell have yet to release a statement regarding Dio’s death.