Ronnie James Dio

A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio
10 July 1942 - 16 May 2010

In Memorian   -   In Memorian pt 2   -   Geezer Butler   -   Memorial Serice News   -   Memorial Service   -   Public Memorial   -   Memorial Program

Memorial Service Photos   -   Photos Pt 2   -   Photos Pt 3   -   Catclub Tribute   -   Fanclan Tribute   -   Rata Blanca Tribute   -   Other Tributes

Our Light In The Black
Tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio

"You see, I'm a live musician That's what I do I've only
recorded albums in my career so I could perform live The
ONLY place you prove it is in front of the fans, onstage,
every night." - Ronnie James Dio

The mood was a bit somber, yet at the same time festive, in and around the Hall of Liberty auditorium This structure is located high on a hill overlooking a small, red brick chapel, and the lush, green grounds surrounding the Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Los Angeles, California As my longtime friend and photographer, Joe Lopez and I passed rows and rows of graves leading up to the Hall's entrance, some of the grave markers were decorated with little American Flags and red, white and blue floral arrangements, as this was the Memorial Day weekend celebration, which honors our fallen war heroes.

So, it was there, in the early afternoon of May 30th, 2010, where I and a few thousand of us fans from all over the world, had gathered to say their final goodbyes to a man, who in life, both on and off stage, was all about giving back to his fellow human beings He did this in ways no one could have ever imagined or read about And for those of us who had gathered, we witnessed a three hour and forty minute ceremony of speeches by close family members and friends, in what host Eddie Trunk (host of That Metal Show on VH1 Classic) termed the 'Evolution Of Dio."

In addition, we fans were also treated to a complete history of this man's life, which unfolded in a variety of picture stills, video clips, and musical tributes by his fellow peers, only befitting of a king in this genre or any genre for that matter Let us not forget the infamous 'devil horn' salute that will be forever associated with the man (who hailed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, but who had called Cortland, New York his boyhood home) He first made and perfected the 'salute' during the early '80s and his first stint with the band, (considered to be the "father of heavy metal") Black Sabbath A simple gesture, of raising the index and pinky fingers while the two middle fingers are pointed downward, was first introduced to him by his grandmother (to ward off 'evil' spirits) and later became the symbol and is still very much a part of, the hard rock and heavy metal musical culture, in which he had entertained for close to four decades.

Although, for the record, the first time the "Dio" name became known to audiences, was way back in 1961, when Ronnie & The Red Caps, a then rockabilly style band, changed their name to Ronnie Dio & the Prophets Dio had not only mastered one instrument, his voice, but a total of three instruments (the trumpet, French horn, and bass) by the time he was 15 years old and playing in bands like the Vegas Kings and later the Electric Elves His position as strictly the front man for bands like ELF, RAINBOW, the aforementioned BLACK SABBATH, DIO, and finally HEAVEN AND HELL occurred in July 1973, when Craig Gruber (ELF, Rainbow, Gary Moore, Black Sabbath, Bible Black) was hired to play bass for ELF.2

In the end, this writer left the ceremony an emotional wreck, but appreciative of the fact I was a witness to a memorial, that I feel no other artist in this particular genre (and I may be wrong about this) may ever receive again I was just glad that for the fans of our "Light In The Black", was now at peace, as he was held in God's hands and greeted by those on the other side, many of us call "heaven", at 7:45 am (PST), Sunday, May 16th, 2010, taking away the pain of the stomach cancer that ravaged his already small frame during the last months of his life here on earth since his diagnosis of the disease was told to him by his eternal soul mate Wendy, on November 13, 2009.

I had the opportunity to meet the singer on a one and one basis, once in my life many years ago, after a concert stopover just outside of Phoenix, Arizona During the brief meet and greet, I was struck right away by his sincerity in not only wanting to greet the then 20-something year old record store clerk/ part-time journalist, but to answer a simple question I had had for him, during his time in my still all-time favorite band, RAINBOW I don't remember what my question or his direct answer to my question was, but all I know is that I left feeling happy that I had met him, and my respect for him, regardless if I was a die-hard fan or not, would always ring true Looking back, my fondest memories of Dio will always be, 1) meeting him, 2) he being the FIRST (November 1984, Selland Arena, Fresno, CA, during the Last In Line Tour with DIO) and LAST (August 2009, Dodge Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona, during The Devil You Know Tour with HEAVEN & HELL) heavy metal concert I have been to (no joke), and 3) the Public Memorial on May 30th, 2010.

I know many have seen the write-ups and YouTube videos that hit the Internet instantly after the ceremony's close While all reports and videos were respectful of the Ronnie's memory; they also did not capture the complete experience of the memorial either.

So, for those who missed the complete program of the ceremony in its entirety, just click on this link, which are the notes I had made during the ceremony I have also included a variety of fan shot video clips that I found on YouTube, which in no way, shape or form violated my promise I had made to the GM of Niji Entertainment Group, Dean Schachtel, to only take stills during the ceremony.

Nevertheless, I felt the inclusion of the fan videos in this recap, would at least put into perspective the order the memorial was conducted in the first place So, even if you could or could not be there at the Public Memorial there in Los Angeles, CA, this memorial was for us, the fans, you and me, to which one Ronald James (Padavona) Dio (1942-2010) recorded all those albums from all those band configurations, and then performed for us LIVE, giving his all, night after night.

I guess if I were to recall one 'proud' moment, if you think this is such a moment, then having the final opportunity to file pass, and then "touch" the cherry wood casket carrying the artist, draped over with a large bouquet of red roses and three white rose shaped like wreaths, hanging just in front of the casket, was indeed a 'proud' and emotional experience, all at the same time.

With that I bid adieu as thoughts of prayers ring out to the soul of the "King of Heavy Metal", Ronnie James Dio.

Long Live Rock'n'Roll \m/

Julie Barela Mills
2010 JayBeeEmPhotography, LLC

1 From the liner notes under the song Sacred Heart[Live,1985] for the Stand Up And Shout - The Anthology compilation; Rhino Records, USA 2003.

2 Based on an interview I had with CG in March 2009 in which part of the interview will be part of a autobiography on Gruber, slated for world wide released by Wymer UK in 2011.