Ronald James Padavona (1942-2010), better known as Ronnie James Dio, was a little man with a BIG voice.
Frontman for Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven and Hell, he was often lauded for his “mighty pipes” and his influence on artists in heavy metal.
This documentary marks what would have been his 80th birthday and celebrates a career that spanned just over half a decade.
The music, the man, and the myth (and of course, mascot ‘Murray’) are all covered in what is an affectionate, informative, and wide-ranging biography. The fights, the falls, the getting right back up again.
Beginning in the 50s, there was no thought of devil signs with the trumpet player and crooner who fronted Ronnie and the Redcaps (or the Prophets).
He took his stage name of Dio from a gangster and created a persona that became instantly recognisable. Castles, wizards, warlocks, and everything louder were the order of the day.
I enjoyed the recollections from Dio’s wife, Wendy, bandmates, and famous fans, and I learned a lot about an artist I have long admired for one of the greatest voices in rock, and how his career grew.
I admit I didn’t know that Dio received no royalties from Rainbow in his lifetime or that Elf evolved from a catastrophic car crash that killed their guitarist.
Taking some inspiration from Dio’s own writings (as edited by Wendy Dio and music writer Mick Wall) in Rainbow in the Dark this puts the singer in his rightful place as one of the strongest songwriters and performers of heavy rock and metal.
And ending with his final song, well, that might make the strongesr of hearts break just a little for ‘the man on the silver mountain’ who everyone seems to love and revere.
Useful for casual music fans, essential for those who know the songs and want to dig a little deeper.
Dio: Dreamers Never Die is released on DVD and BluRay by Mercury Studios. A deluxe version will be available with additional merchandise and all versions of the film include a 20-minute selection of deleted and extended scenes.
Order both versions here.
Image credit: Gene Kirkland