Over 1,200 Fans Turn Ronnie James Dio's Funeral into Celebration

Over 1,200 Fans Turn Ronnie James Dio's Funeral into Celebration
When Ronnie James Dio died at 67 earlier this month, many in the metal world were saddened by his passing. The former Black Sabbath/Elf/Rainbow front-man lost his battle with stomach cancer on May 16, at which point his wife and manager, Wendy Dio, posted a message on his website saying, "Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss."

This time for private grieving has evidently passed. This weekend, Dio's funeral was held in Los Angeles, and, according to the Associated Press, over 1,200 fans showed up and gave the event an atmosphere closer to that of a rock concert than a typical memorial service.

The service took place at the Hall of Liberty in Hollywood's Forest Lawn Memorial Park - the resting place of many famous figures including Brittany Murphy, Marvin Gaye and crooner Ricky Nelson.

Hardly a typical funeral, the gathered supporters chanted "Dio, Dio, Dio" while, as promised, a small number of protesters from Westboro Baptist Church demonstrated outside of the service, evidently offended by his "Satan worshipping" and the fact that Dio helped to popularize the "devil horns" hand gesture in the '70s.

Several notable musicians showed up to perform Dio songs in tribute to the fallen singer: Scott Warren, keyboardist of Dio's most recent project, Heaven & Hell, began the memorial with Dio's "This Is Your Life," while other performances included John Payne of Asia, Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, Geoff Tate of Queensr├┐che and Paul Shortino of Quiet Riot.

By the sound of things, it was a fitting way to celebrate the life and career of one of heavy metal's most beloved singers.