When I posted about Ronnie James Dio having cancer, it was my hope then, that it would be one of those posts that just disappears and is forgotten. Forever forgotten because he survived and was once again making music and magic. As many may know by now, that is not the case. He passed away yesterday, leaving his many fans shocked and saddened.
Being a true Dio(Did you know that dio in Italian means God?) fan I have found the things written by the “big” press to be lacking and therefore cannot help but say something more personal, insightful, and hopefully more personal. My main goal here is to not spew forth the same crap as the mass media does but speak the reality here. Something, I am quite sure Ronnie would appreciate, if he were still here.
With that in mind let’s first talk about who he was and what he ment to so many people-
When one thinks and speaks of RJD(Ronnie James Dio) there is no getting around the word “evil”. Many people believed he was evil.. many would say he sounds evil, looked evil and his lyrics/music were evil. Looks like, talks like, walks like, must be so, right? Without getting into a long rant about the nature of evil let’s just say that evil is not so easily defined, let’s say it is a matter of perspective. I believe we can even use the old adage here ” You cannot determine what is inside a book by looking at it’s cover” and we would be completely accurate in regards to RJD.
I remember when I first visited the Ronnie James Dio website many years ago. This was back in the days of guestbooks, remember those? In his guestbook, there were so many rants about RJD being the devil and how his fans were going to hell, from religious fanatics and such, that one has to wonder if he was really evil. Was it the the fact that RJD invented the \m/( devil horns) sign?(Coincidently, this sign is very close to “I love you” in sign language) Was it his lyrics, which he sung with so much passion? What was it about RJD that had so many convinced that he was evil incarnate? Did RJD like and perpetuate this myth? Perhaps he did… it sold records. I doubt we will ever know for sure how evil came to be a factor when one speaks of RJD, but it should not keep us from reality..from the truth.
Put aside the myths, just for a second and let’s look at the truth. RJD did not live the evil rock and roll lifestyle. He was not into the evil deeds of the it. He was married for most of his life, to one woman, Wendy Dio. He was a member of RADD (rockers against drunk driving) and member of a charity organization to help teenagers(Children of the Night).He was also one of the people involved in Hear N’ Aid. You can always see more from what a person does, rather than what they say.
Speaking of lyrics…were they evil? Not in the least to those who really listened. What made his lyrics so different though, that they incited such beliefs of evilness? It is simple to those who are not blinded by lies. ” The world is full of kings and queens., who blind your eyes and steal your dreams.” This was RJD. His lyrics were real, not unrealistic bs. He spoke the truth in his music.It was not all mystical, mysterious, and fantastical as the the “big” press would have you believe. Many however,cannot deal with the truth.It is cold, it is harsh. But the truth is not good or evil, it is just the truth.
In a world filled with Kings and queens(politicians and preachers, not saying all are bad) who blind your eyes and steal your dreams( lie to you and waste your time) RJD had a message of truth. It may not have been a popular message but it is there for this those who look. Perhaps that is why so many labeled him evil. They did not take the time to look at what he was saying AND doing. So who really is the evil one then? More on the subject of RJD and evil can be found here, straight from Ronnie.
Perhaps it was this myth of evil and how it is also related to rock music in general that lead to the decline of RJD. By decline, I am not speaking of the cancer, I am speaking of his popularity here in the US. RJD was tied to Rock and roll, he was rock and roll, and with the move of Americans from traditional rock music to alternative rock, his record sales in the US declined. How many people own his last album/cd ” Master of the Moon” (2004)? I know I do. In fact, I have owned every Dio album/cd with a month of their releases. The Dio band had at one point, had stopped touring the US because of a lack of fan support. While I find it great that many are now saying good things about him, I have to wonder where they were when he was alive? I could say more about this but I think ,at least one of the things RJD has taught us, is that most people do not like the truth.
I have spent a fair amount of time now speaking about who RJD was and what became of him before his death. I hope that I have, at minimal, given people more insight into the man, the myth and the legend. Maybe some of you will take the next step and actually go out there and listen to more of his music. I believe that RJD had something he really wanted to give to us and it is found in his music. I think perhaps Dio knew a few years ago of his coming demise, even if only subconsiously. There is some evidence to suggest so. A line from his Last DIo album/cd(Master of the Moon), ina song titled ” End of the World” states, “If I am mistaken and I see you again, please don’t leave me alone.”. Why the IF part when at that point he should have no reason to believe he was going to stop making music. Just a thought..listen to the song/cd. Great stuff!
Before I end this, I want to share something. Another memory of RJD. It is unique and original like the one I shared in my previous post about him having cancer. I do believe Ronnie would have liked that I shared it with you. It speaks volumes of truth.
It was the only time I got to see DIO in concert. Strange Highways was the tour and it was 1994-1995. This was probably the last time his Band(Dio) toured the US. Frankly, I would be surprised if it was not.
We heard about the concert the day before. No previous announcements were there and luckily we(me and my wife) had money to buy tickets. We had to make last minute babysitter arrangements and those were shaky at best, but it got done with a condition that we would be back at a certain time.I know babysitter arrangements seems unimportant in a tale but sometimes it is these little details that show fate’s true purpose. But I digress, we drove to the concert late because I was only going to see DIO. I did not give a rat’s ass about any other band that was supposed to be there. When we got there, we were welcomed by a big surprise. There was hardly anyone there! I believe I can honestly say there was less than 300 people there. Obviously, anyone who has ever been to any concert knows, that there is usually way more people than that. Always waaay more. But not this night. This night was a private concert for some very lucky few. Seeing Dio this one and only time like this, was so unique that it could never be forgotten.
No lines waiting to go to bathroom.No lines waiting to get drinks. No lines for anything! So we did both and went out to the stage area. Motorhead was still playing and we did not come there for them, so we headed out to sit on the lawn for awhile. While sitting in the lawn area,we could hear and see Motorhead but it was not bothersome. We enjoyed our drinks and some mysterious tabacco(what was in that stuff?). When Motorhead finished, we worked our way down into the audience(the few that there were) and before RJD hit the stage we were within 5 ft. of the stage! Imagine that, front row seats for general admission! What more could you ask for when seeing your favorite singer, for the one and only time? Nothing! That night was concert heaven..no hell to be found.
Dio gets onstage and they start out a rocking. Horns sign a flying and all. Everyone is into it. I can see the sweat on his face I am so close.:) Then they work their way to the song ‘ Heaven and Hell” and the croud goes crazy,surging forward, pressing against us. I sense the danger of this and we move back. We settle back from the stage at about 15 ft. from stage and a fight breaks out where we were. Kinda saw that coming, didn’t ya?
Moving back some revealed something to me though. I realized that I could now hear RJD’s voice better. One of those”duh!” moments we all have on occasion. After this realization sunk in, I suggested we move back even further to get a good listen to “the man”. The wife agreed and we moved back to some bleachers that were just behind the stand up area. Have you ever been to a concert and discovered that the singer sounded much better on the album/cd than live? Well, that was NOT the case here. Dio sounded as good, if not better live. I was totally blown away!!!! So much so, I was almost in a state of shock.
After sitting for awhile, I had to get back to the standup area. DIO is not sit down music, let’s face it.
So we went back down there but did not move too close. Trying to get a even mix of vocals and music and succeeded around 25-30ft. from the stage. Rocking out, waving our hands, singing every word(at least I was ’cause I knew them all) time flew by and before we knew it, RJD was saying goodbye, that the concert was over and all that. I realized, looking at my watch that now, those details I spoke of, had come into play. We had promised the babysitter that we would be back by a certain time, so it was indeed, time for us to go. All thoughts about ALL the band members saying goodbye or encores out the window. It was time to go!
We had not walked 10 ft. away when Vinny Appice threw a drumstick to right where we had been standing. Rather disappointed but still exceptionally elated that I got to see DIO perform, we proceeded toward the parking lot. As we started walking across the parking lot, Dio started to play “Rainbow in the Dark”. We were the only people in that dark parking lot that night.Perhaps, that night, we were the “Rainbows in the Dark”. Quite literally.
So there, you have it. My memory of RJD live.
In conclusion, call him evil, call him the King of Rock and Roll, call him the voice of rock, call him The king of Metal. Call him whatever you like..to me, he will always be the best singer that ever lived and a man I will NEVER forget!!!
\m/ AXE \m/