Ronnie James Dio: A Knight to Remember
For the rest of us, Dio was not so much a father figure as a godhead type. His recent reunion with Iommi and Butler in Heaven & Hell underscored not only the mutual love and respect that existed between the one-time Sabbath bandmates and, for a moment, adversaries, but also the singer’s status as a metal legend. And if at times over the years Dio had come to be regarded as a symbol of all that was goofy and dated about the music, it was at the same time his sincerity, his devotion to his craft and his steadiness in the face of the many changing tides and trends in metal that made him an icon to millions of fans.
Which is not to say that he was above poking fun at himself: In 2001, comedy duo Tenacious D’s self-titled album included a song called “Dio,” in which Jack Black admonished the singer for being “too old to rock.” Dio, at that point having “rocked” for close to half a century, acknowledged the good-natured ribbing by casting Black and Tenacious D bandmate Kyle Gass in his video for Killing the Dragon’s “Push,” as well as appearing in Tenacious D’s 2006 movie, The Pick of Destiny, as a somewhat divine version of himself. In a statement released after his death, Jack Black, an avowed fan, said of Dio, “he was as cool a person as you could hope to meet. He was generous and softspoken, humble and serene, and had a tremendous sense of humor.”
Black also made note—and here he perhaps could have been speaking for metal fans the world over—of what he described as the “life-affirming fire” of Dio’s songs. “They were filled with glory,” he said. “They made me want to climb mountains and battle demons.
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