Happy Birthday: Ronnie James Dio
The late, great heavy metal rocker Ronald James Padavona was was born on this day in 1942 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, but you know him better by the pseudonym he adopted in order to rock harder (we presume): Ronnie James Dio. We know you could go listen to Dio’s own work – in fact, we’ve provided you with the opportunity to listen to a Dio best-of collection below – but to celebrate the great man on the day of his birth, we’ve also pulled together a six-pack of tracks which feature him, and we suspect there could be one or two in the mix which might be new to you.
- Roger Glover and Guests, “Love is All” (1974): One of the more fascinating concept albums of the mid-1970s – and believe us when we tell you that there were plenty of concept albums to choose from back then – was THE BUTTERFLY BALL AND THE GRASSHOPPER’S FEAST, by Roger Glover and Guests. Glover, as you likely already know, came to fame as a member of Deep Purple, and his many Guests were drawn from a variety of bands. (Dio, for instance, was still a member of Elf at the time.) Based on a children’s poem, the album was successful as an album and also a live rock opera that was well-received, but to the surprise of many, “Love is All” was actually a #1 hit single in Belgium and the Netherlands.
- David Coverdale, “Give Me Kindness” (1978): As it happens, Coverdale was one of the other vocalists on THE BUTTERFLY BALL AND THE GRASSHOPPER’S FEAST, thereby giving us a chance to type out that awesome title again, but he and Dio had been running in the same circles for some time. In fact, the aforementioned Mr. Glover played all over Coverdale’s 1978 album, NORTHWINDS, from which this song was taken, so there was already a – wait for it – Rainbow connection.
- Kerry Livgren, “Mask of the Great Deceiver” (1980): The name may not immediately ring a bell to everyone, but Livgren was one of the founding members of Kansas, remaining with them through 1983. This was taken from his solo debut, SEEDS OF CHANGE, which featured guest appearances from both Dio and David Pack of Ambrosia. Talk about your odd couple…
- Heaven, “Where Angels Fear to Tread” (1983): Heaven came roaring out of Australia in the early ‘80s and found their greatest success there, but they made a full bid for US success with their 1983 album WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD. In addition to Dio, Lita Ford and Glenn Hughes both contributed to the album, but it wasn’t enough to take them into multi-platinum territory, and after one more album – 1985’s KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVEN’S DOOR – they gave up the ghost.
- Hear’n Aid, “Stars” (1985): If you lived through the ‘80s, then you know that the release of Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” set off a flurry of charity singles, charity albums, and charity concerts. Hear’n Aid was an all-star collective of heavy metal singers and musicians. That’s really all that needs to be said. Just watch the video in awe.
- Tenacious D, “Kickapoo” (2006): We couldn’t very well end this list without finding a spot for Tenacious D, who paid tribute to Dio with a song that was both named after him and written about him. If you’ve never seen THE PICK OF DESTINY, the below video provides you with a look at Dio’s guest appearance. It’s glorious.