One of the all-time great voices in rock, Ronnie James Dio, died yesterday, of stomach cancer at age 67. A lot of bands came through Ottawa when I was growing up there in the 80s, and I saw most of them. But one summer, Dio was playing the Ex with Yngwie Malmsteen. I had plans to go with a friend, but we never got our acts together and we missed it. I always regretted it. Dio was one of the first metal vocalists I ever seriously listened to – my friend Adrian had a vinyl copy of Mob Rules, and we would sit up in his bedroom for hours, pretending we were radio DJs and practicing talking over the intro to the songs. Later in high school, we were out one day driving around in a friend’s van, playing hookey from Glebe, and he put in a tape of The Last in Line. I thought I was going to cry it was so awesome. The title track is 100% unalloyed heavy metal, one of the best songs in the genre. Sure, Dio’s lyrics are naff, sub-Zeppelin swords and scorcery nonsense. But listen to “Last in Line.” Listen to the intro. Listen to the part right after the intro. Yeah.
And that beast-head/double-viking/devil’s horns thing you all do all ironically when You Shook Me All Night Long comes on? Dio invented that.