Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.
– Wendy Dio
I was fortunate enough to meet Ronnie once. It was one of those week where there were back-to-back great shows – the Lynch Mob at the Newport Music Hall one night and Black Sabbath at Vets Memorial the next. The day of the Lynch Mob show, it was announced on the radio that the Sabbath show was being moved to the Newport … a “special, intimate show with the legends of metal” which translated to “Sabbath didn’t sell enough tickets to even come close to filling Vets”.
I was supposed to interview Lynch Mob’s drummer Mick Brown after the show so I was hanging out close to the left side of the stage where I was to meet the tour manager. During the show, I glanced over and saw Ronnie James Dio hanging out and watching Lynch Mob. He was in a secure spot and unless you were standing right next to the spot where Dio was standing, you wouldn’t have even seen him. I did and quickly asked the security guard if I could get my picture taken with Ronnie. He went over and asked and Dio motioned me over with a smile.
After the photo was taken, I told Ronnie that I wrote for the college paper and mentioned how amazing it would be to have the opportunity to interview him. He gave me his tour manager’s phone number and said, “If we’re not busy tomorrow, I’d be happy to talk to you.”
The next day I called his tour manager but due to the venue change and some last-minute radio promo Black Sabbath was doing, the interview didn’t happen (maybe it was because I was just writing for a college paper, who knows?). When I showed up at the Newport later that night, I found 2 tickets AND an after-show pass waiting for me at the box office.
The show was amazing – I’ll never forget the way Geezer Butler’s bass rumble shook me to the bones (though I don’t remember what song it was) – and even though Sabbath, at this point, wasn’t as popular as many of the grunge groups they directly influenced, it was one of those shows where you can’t believe that you’re actually seeing a band of this magnitude in a venue of this size (1,500 or so).
After the show, I put on my pass and ventured backstage. Ronnie said, “Sorry we didn’t have time to do the interview but I’m glad you were able to make it to the show.” Tony Iommi walked past me on the way to the dressing room and not really knowing what to say, I said “Glad you’re back Tony!” (it had been nearly 10 years since the last Dio-fronted Sabbath album) to which he replied, “I was never gone.”
That was the last time I ever saw Ronnie James Dio perform live.
Today is truly a sad day for music fans as we’ve lost one of the true legendary frontmen.
Throw some devil’s horns in the air tonight in tribute to Ronnie.