Written by Ali Blackdiamond
November 25th, 2009 Ronnie’s wife, Wendy Dio, shocked the world with this announcement: “Ronnie has been diagnosed with the early stages of stomach cancer. We are starting treatment immediately at the Mayo Clinic. After he kills this dragon, Ronnie will be back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans. Long live rock and roll, long live Ronnie James Dio. Thanks to all the friends and fans from all over the world that have sent well wishes. This has really helped to keep his spirit up”.
About 2 years later on May 16, 2010 Wendy posted a very sad update: “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.”
On July 10th 1942, a very special boy was born in New Hampshire, USA. That child would grow up to be the greatest heavy metal singer of all time, a ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ – Ronnie James Dio.
Born Ronald James Padavona to Italian parents, the young Ronnie learned to play the French horn and trumpet, which he later claimed helped with his breathing technique, creating that powerful voice we know and love.
The young Ronnie started his recording career early in life, making several singles with various rockabilly bands. Later on in high school, he joined a band playing bass guitar., called The Vegas Kings. Eventually Ronnie became lead singer and finally settled on the name ‘Ronnie and The Red Caps’. They released their first 7″ single in 1958 named ‘Conquest’.
Dio graduated from school in 1960, then went on to the University of Buffalo, majoring in pharmacy. Ronnie was also offered a scholarship to the Juilliard School Of Music, but luckily for the world of metal he turned it down to pursue his career in rock music.
Ronnie’s journey on the path to his career in rock began in 1967 when Elf was formed. Originally called ‘The Electric Elves’ and then ‘The Elves’ before settling on ‘Elf’ and after being seen auditioning by Ian Paice and Roger Glover from Deep Purple in 1972, this resulted in Elf opening for them on some U.S tours. Ronnie sang and played bass until Craig Gruber joined the band, then he became lead vocalist.
Their self titled album was produced by Roger Glover and Ian Paice in 1972 at Studio One in Atlanta, Georgia. Ronnie’s vocal style on this album gave people a taste of what a huge shining talent Ronnie was to become in the future.
In 1973 Elf signed a new record deal with MGM in the USA and Purple Records in the UK. They travelled to the UK and recorded their second album ‘Caroline County Ball’ at Manor Studios, also produced by Roger Glover, which was released in 1974. The album was released under a different name ‘LA/59’ in the USA, also with a different sleeve.
The third album ‘Trying To Burn The Sun’ was released in 1975 and again produced by Roger Glover, but by this time the band had split up.
Elf released 3 singles between 1967-1970 and various bootleg and compilation albums alongside the 3 studio albums.
In 2009 Ronnie spoke to Classic Rock Magazine about the possibility of an Elf reunion, and they were maybe considering making a new album and touring. Unfortunately this did not happen due to Ronnie’s illness….to be continued