Ronnie James Dio Dies at 67

BY Greg PrattPublished May 16, 2010

Heavy metal has lost one of its most celebrated and influential figures. Following a battle with stomach cancer, Ronnie James Dio, the legendary vocalist behind such groups as Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell and Dio, died early Sunday morning (May 16).

Dio's website contained this message from his wife and manager, Wendy Dio:

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.

Dio was diagnosed with the cancer in November of last year. Reports on his condition were generally positive, although Heaven & Hell did recently cancel their summer tour plans because of Dio's health.

Dio left behind an amazing legacy of music, first with boogie rockers Elf, then with '70s legacy rock band Rainbow, metal trailblazers Black Sabbath, his own solo material and, most recently, Heaven & Hell, essentially Black Sabbath under a different name.

Dio, known for his fantastical lyrics, commanding yet diminutive stature, and amazingly powerful voice, as well as for being extremely down to earth and friendly to his fans, also leaves another legacy behind: the wee wizard was apparently responsible for bringing heavy metal's infamous "horn" salute into the world.

Fans can go to Dio's Facebook page to leave messages of condolence for Dio, who presumably succumbed to the stomach cancer. However, as of press time, the cause of death has not been confirmed.

There will be many horns raised for Dio this week as metalheads crank up his timeless catalogue in respect and bang their heads in solemn reverence for one of the genre's leaders.

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