Devil horns up: you owe that iconic rock and roll gesture to Ronnie James Dio, who passed away this week after a prolonged battle with stomach cancer. Metal purists lament the ubiquity of the hedonistic sign language, but it’s only a thumb away from love anyway. You can thank/blame Dio for much of what has happened in metal since the mid-70s. With Rainbow, he sowed the seeds of hair metal. He rescued Black Sabbath from an early grave following Ozzy’s collapse. With Dio, he established himself as a brand name, and endured for the rest of his life as both a legend and a punchline, embracing the entirety of his legacy with humor and class.
I am not a Dio fan; the style of music he gravitated to just ain’t my bag for the most part (exception being the excellent Heaven And Hell album). But the guy had an incredible voice, the most influential of all time in metal, from Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford to Dave Mustaine and Geoff Tate to Cedric Bixler-Zavala and legions of followers to come. And there’s no denying that he tirelessly injected the spirit of heavy metal back into pop culture over and over again throughout his life. He cared about it as much as anybody ever has, if not more, and for that he has my undying respect and gratitude.
So, thanks for changing the course of music forever, guys. That was awesome. Please add a Chicago or Milwaukee date to your tour in between L.A. and Bonnaroo! You will be missed.