Iconic rocker Ronnie James Dio died early Sunday morning, according to a statement posted on his official website by his wife and longtime manager, Wendy Dio. The singer, known for his work with Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell and his own band, Dio, died less than a year after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. He was 67.
The statement reads:
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
With his powerful signature vocals and doom-laden lyrics, Dio fronted several iconic bands during his career: Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and, of course, Dio. In 2009, he released The Devil You Know LP with the outfit Heaven and Hell, which featured the same lineup as the post-Ozzy Osbourne incarnation of Sabbath that he fronted in the early 1980s.
Dio is credited with popularizing (if not inventing) the “devil horns” hand gesture used by everyone from the darkest of death and black metal acts to pop stars, athletes and professional wrestlers. Dio often said he got the symbol — the “Malocchio” or “Evil Eye” — from his Italian grandmother.
Be sure to weigh in with your thoughts and memories of one of rock’s greatest performers!