Metal legend Ronnie James Dio succumbed to stomach cancer on Sunday, and well-deserved tributes and remembrances have been pouring in over the e-wires ever since.
Lars Ulrich posted a genuinely “open” letter indeed to RJD on Metaillica’s website:
I just got off stage in Zagreb. I was met with the news that you’ve passed on. I’m kind of in shock, but I wanted you to know that you were one of the main reasons I made it onto that stage to begin with. When I first saw you in Elf, opening for Deep Purple in 1975, I was completely blown away by the power in your voice, your presence on stage, your confidence, and the ease with which you seemed to connect to 6000 Danish people and one starry-eyed 11 year old, most of whom were not familiar with Elf’s music. The following year, I was so psyched when I heard the results of you joining forces with my favorite guitar player. You guys sounded so right for each other and I instantly became Rainbow’s #1 fan in Denmark. In the fall of 1976, when you played your first show in Copenhagen, I was literally in the front row and the couple of times we made eye contact you made me feel like the most important person in the world. The news that you guys were staying in town on your day off somehow embedded itself in my brain and I made the pilgrimage to the Plaza Hotel to see if I could somehow grab a picture, an autograph, a moment, anything. A few hours later you came out and were so kind and caring… pictures, autographs and a couple minutes of casual banter. I was on top of the world, inspired and ready for anything. Rainbow came to Copenhagen a couple more times over the next few years and each time you guys blew my mind, and for a good three years were my absolute favorite band on this planet. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to run into you a half dozen times or so and each time you were as kind, caring and gracious as you were in 1976 outside the hotel. When we finally got a chance to play together in Austria in 2007, even though I may not have let on, I was literally transformed back to that little snot nosed kid who you met and inspired 31 years earlier and it was such a fucking honor and a dream come true to share a stage with you and the rest of the legends in Heaven and Hell. A couple of weeks ago when I heard that you were not going to be able to make it to the Sonisphere shows that we would be sharing this June, I wanted to call you and let you know that I was thinking of you and wish you well, but I kind of pussied out, thinking the last thing you needed in your recovery was feeling obligated to take a phone call from a Danish drummer/fan boy. I wish I’d made that call. We will miss you immensely on the dates, and we will be thinking of you with great admiration and affection during that run. It seemed so right to have you out on tour with the so-called “Big Four” since you obviously were one of the main reasons that the four bands even exist. Your ears will definitely be burning during those two weeks because all of us will be talking, reminiscing and sharing stories about how knowing you has made our lives that much better.
Ronnie, your voice impacted and empowered me, your music inspired and influenced me, and your kindness touched and moved me. Thank you.
Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover also posted this tribute:
I am at an absolute loss right now upon hearing that Ronnie has passed away. I had the pleasure of touring both Canada and America in 2007 when Megadeth toured with “Heaven and Hell” (Black Sabbath in my eyes) and I swear to you he is 1 of the nicest human beings I have ever met, period. Many a night on that tour, Glen and myself would have amazing conversation’s with Ronnie about his career, etc. fully knowing he had probably told these stories 10,000 times to people and yet he answered every question I had with a big smile. I can recall so many times making eye contact with Glen sharing the exact same thought – “Dude, I can’t believe we are hanging with RONNIE JAMES DIO!!!!!” If you are lucky enough in your lifetime to actually meet 1 of your idols (let alone tour with them) and they turn out to be even nicer than you could have envisioned, that is something you would truly treasure. Lucky for me, I will cherish those memories forever.
Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante said:
The first time I heard Ronnie James Dio, I thought he was a larger person, because the voice was so huge!….It was Rainbow and I was a fan of his from then on. ‘Man on the Silver Mountain,’ ‘Heaven and Hell,’ ‘Rainbow in the Dark.’ The songs are endless. The sound of his voice with those bands was always so perfect….It was his God-given instrument. He was true metal and the creator of the metal hand sign. He was divine.
And Mike Portnoy added from his Twitter account:
Looks like Dime, Randy, Cliff and Bonzo just scored the ultimate singer….this is one of the saddest days in metal ever…. : (
Mike also posted this great pic of him and Ronny below.