Headbangers the world over are bowing their heads as news breaks that metal icon Ronnie James Dio is dead of stomach cancer at 67.
Dio was one of the three great vocalists, along with Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford, of the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal. No, he himself wasn’t British, but he joined Rainbow with Ritchie Blackmore, and then replaced Ozzy in Black Sabbath, turning out two discs (Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules) that came close to matching the band’s early output with Ozzy. His solo disc, “The Last in Line,” was a high-water moment for early 80s metal before it became diluted by the Hair Metal movement. He recently did several summer tours with the second incarnation of Black Sabbath under the name Heaven & Hell.
Also of note: Dio was one of the first metal musicians to prominently display the now-well-worn symbol of the devil’s horns (he said his Italian grandmother used to flash the sign to ward off evil).