Ronnie James Dio (born Ronald James Padavona on July 10, 1942 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA), is an American heavy metal vocalist who has performed with Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and his own band Dio. Other musical projects include the collective fundraiser Hear 'n Aid. He is widely hailed as one of the most powerful singers in heavy metal, renowned for his consistently powerful voice and for popularizing the "devil's horns" hand gesture in metal culture. He is currently collaborating on a project with former Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice, which is going under the name Heaven and Hell.
In 1960 Dio graduated from the Cortland City School and was inducted to the Cortland City School Hall of Fame in 2004. He was also honored on November 15, 1988 by Dio's hometown of Cortland, New York naming a street after him - Dio Way, located between Central Avenue and East Court Street.
He initially played the trumpet and even recorded several singles with various rockabilly bands when he was a kid. When he was in high school, he joined a band called The Vegas Kings, in which he played the bass guitar. He eventually became the lead singer of this band, which changed its name to Ronnie & The Rumblers and finally to Ronnie And The Red Caps. Their first 7-inch single was released in 1958.
Ronnie took up the name "Dio" after mafia member Johnny Dio, and first used it professionally in the early 1960s, playing in a band called Ronnie Dio and the Prophets. This was essentially the same band as Ronnie And The Red Caps, but with a different name. Dio is the Italian word for God.
During the Heaven and Hell Performance at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center in Darien, NY (near Buffalo, NY) on September 19, 2007, Ronnie revealed that he had attended the University at Buffalo, majoring in pharmacy. He formed one of his early bands during his freshman year. University at Buffalo officials confirmed that he did attend from 1960-61 but did not graduate.
He was also offered a scholarship to the prestigious Juilliard School of Music but did not pursue it due to his interest in rock music.
Dio's musical career began in 1957 when several Cortland, New York musicians formed the band The Vegas Kings, which soon changed their name to Ronnie and the Rumblers. This band's lineup had Padavona on the bass guitar, along with singer Billy de Wolf, guitarist Nick Pantas, drummer Tom Rogers, and saxophone player Jack Musci.
In 1958 the band again changed their name, along with a few changes of personnel. The band was now known as Ronnie and the Redcaps. At this point, Padavona began singing, replacing de Wolf. Musci also left the band, and a new guitarist, Dick Botoff, joined. The Redcaps lineup released two singles: "Lover" b/w "Conquest" (with De Wolf on vocals on the A-side) on the Reb label, and on Seneca (S 178-102, USA), 'An Angel Is Missing' with 'What'd I Say' on the B side (both songs featuring Padavona on vocals).
In 1961 they changed their name to Ronnie Dio and The Prophets. (Presumably, this is also the first time Padavona began using the pseudonym "Dio"). The Prophets lineup lasted for quite a long time and produced several singles and one album. Some sources state that some of the single releases were made by Ronnie James Dio solo, but others, such as Dio himself, state that all of the singles were made as a band.
Ronnie Dio and the Prophets disbanded in 1967, but he and Prophets guitarist Nick Pantas started a new band called the Electric Elves. They shortened their name to Elf in 1969, and went on to become an opening act for Deep Purple. Dio's vocals caught the ear of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and when Blackmore left the band, he recruited Dio and other members of Elf to form Rainbow. Rainbow released its first album in 1975. Dio recorded two more albums with Rainbow, but he left the band due to creative differences: Blackmore had wanted to take the band in a more commercial direction.
Dio performed vocals on the 1974 UK single 'Love is All' taken from Roger Glover's concept album 'The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast'. The song was used by the Dutch political party CDA in its election ads for the 2006 Dutch General Election. Dio also provided vocals for the songs 'Homeward' and 'Sitting in a dream' on the album which also featured Deep Purple alumni Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale.
In 1997, Dio made a cameo on Pat Boone's "In a Metal Mood", an album of famous heavy metal songs played in Big Band style. Dio can be heard singing backup on Boone's take of the Dio song, "Holy Diver."
Tenacious D has written a tribute song entitled Dio that appears on their untitled album that calls for the singer to 'Pass the torch' on to them. Reportedly, Dio approved of it, and had Tenacious D appear in his video "Push". He has also appeared in the film Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny, playing himself, but on VH1, some have interpreted small clips of an interview with him as expressing resentment at the idea that he needs to "pass the torch" and seemed uncertain that Tenacious D is worthy of such an honor. When viewed in full, this interview is clearly done in good humor.
In 2005, Dio was revealed to be the voice behind Dr. X in Operation: Mindcrime II, the sequel to Queensrÿche's seminal concept album Operation: Mindcrime. In October 2006 it was confirmed that Dio would be reuniting with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice to tour under the moniker 'Heaven and Hell', which was the title of the first Dio era Black Sabbath record. They chose the name "Heaven and Hell" as Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler are still in the Black Sabbath band with Ozzy Osbourne and felt it was best to use a different moniker for the Dio version of the band. Original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward was to be involved in this project, but he later withdrew. In 2008 the band completed a 98-date world tour.
Although Dio is considered the creator of the "devil's horns" as a heavy metal symbol, some argue that it originated from Kiss' Love Gun album cover from 1977, which shows Gene Simmons doing the sign. However, Simmons extends his thumb which is sign language for "I love you."
After divorcing Berardi, he married Wendy Galaxiola (born 1947), who also serves as his manager. In the 1980s she managed the Los Angeles rock bands Rough Cutt and Hellion. She is the chair of the privately sponsored organization, Children of the Night, dedicated to rescuing America's children from prostitution.
Dio currently has two grandchildren, Joey and Julia.
He resides in Los Angeles.
As a character, Ronnie James Dio appeared in the third season episode of South Park titled "Hooked on Monkey Phonics", playing "Holy Diver" at the school dance. Ronnie James Dio himself did not provide the character's speaking voice.
Ronnie James Dio also appeared in Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny playing himself. He plays a small role at the beginning of the movie, where Lil' JB, played by Troy Gentile, is angry because his father, played by Meat Loaf, won't let him play rock because he thinks it's the devil's music. Lil' JB then prays to a poster of Dio to help him out. Dio comes to life and urges him in song to "leave his oppressive neighborhood" and head to Hollywood.
In The Venture Bros episode "The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together, Pt I" it is revealed that the character Shore Leave had changed his handle to Holy Diver, a reference to the Ronnie James Dio song of the same name, following his conversion to Christianity.
| The Vegas Kings/Ronnie and the Rumblers|
| Ronnie and the Redcaps|
| Ronnie Dio and the Prophets|
Goldfinger's cover of "Rio" replaces "Her name is Rio" with "His name is Dio, Ronnie James Dio" at the end of the song.
Big props for Sabbath's littler guy; Ronnie James Dio deserves more credit as his Heaven and Hell tour stops here Sunday.(SCENE)
May 04, 2007; Byline: Chris Riemenschneider; Staff Writer Poor ol' Ronnie James Dio. Now on his first tour in 15 years with members of Black...