May 17, 2010 – Heavy metal purist Ronnie James Dio, a powerful voice of the groups Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Dio, died on Sunday, his wife announced on his website. He was 67.
“Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May,” wrote Wendy Dio.
She did not say how the singer died but he reportedly had suffered from cancer.
“Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all…. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever,” she added.
Dio, who was born Ronald James Padavona in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and grew up in Cortland, New York, played in rockabilly bands in the 1950s.
Then in the mid-1970s, Ritchie Blackmore, guitarist of the British band Deep Purple, hired him to sing for his new band, Rainbow.
In 1979 when Ozzy Osborne was fired from Black Sabbath, Dio was his replacement.
Dio was known for his soaring vocal prowess and a trademark dark stage persona, as well as for reportedly popularizing a “devil horn” hand gesture, one of metal’s references to the dark side.