Dark Rainbow

“Weird” I guess is the best description I can use for the feelings I have had the last 2 days, after learning that Ronnie James Dio died of stomach cancer on Sunday morning, I was bewildered at my sadness towards it. Now, I’m not trying to paint myself as some alpha male tough guy who won’t show his feelings, but I never felt like this over someone whom I had never met. When George Carlin died I was very saddened but I think more for the loss the world took losing its greatest comedic mind and my favorite of all time. I met George Carlin and that I think, made it easier, although I will miss hearing his views on modern events, the earthquakes ravaging our planet lately, 2 at a time, or even his opinion on having a black president (he died June 2008). Being a comedian and a huge fan of Carlin and his work, it confused me even more that THIS was truly something that made me blue. Then it made sense, I always would bitch how comedy never got the same love and accolades as music, I never understood why, as much as comedy has shaped my life and helped me find my calling, MUSIC, touched my soul and took me to places I could never go to in this atom-filled world as we know it. It inspired me to do better and achieve things, like “get over it” when some girl shreds your heart, trying to hit personal goals, or just putting you in a better mood by just hearing it. As much as I adore what comedy does, it doesn’t quite match up to what music can do for someone.  So, where do I start?  I purchased my 1st record (YES, I said record) at 12 or 13, it was Foreigner 4 ,a very good rock album, I wanted to buy J. Geils Bands “Freeze Frame” but my mom wouldn’t let me get it because they a song called “piss on the wall”, so it was the first (thanks mom, I think if got Freeze Frame I would have taken a different path of music) A year later I wanted to get “Crazy Train” by Ozzy but they were out of “Blizzard of Oz”, so I got “Diary of a Madman”, Ozzy’s 2nd album, and my love for heavy metal was born! I’ll never forget the day I saw Dio for the 1st time, I was at my best friend’s house (Tim Hale) and we were just hanging out and I heard some song from the other room, when I walked in, the video “Rainbow in the dark” was playing on MTV and just about over, I was MESMORIZED, the guitars, the keyboards, and of course …the voice. I asked Tim “who is this?” And I was still far away from the TV and the credits for the video came up and I saw like Ronald something DIO (I pronounced it DIE O) and I looked at the album title and said to Tim “Is Holy River is the name of the album by this DYE-O guy?”. And Tim was like “I think its Holy Diver” and I had to get it ASAP. Soon thereafter the nickname “Joe Dio” was given to me.

     All throughout High School I was called that, amongst other things, but in a strange way it gave me an identity, I was a DIO/OZZY fanatic, although I looked more like Ozzy with the hair, it was always “Joe Dio!!!!!!!!!” and the “horns” that were thrown my way by passing friends in the hallways. Some people may say Dio was a tad corny with his lyrics about dragons and wizards and rainbows, but look at the FILMS today, with “Harry Potter”, “Lord of the Rings” and stuff like that, it seems pretty relevant even today. Dio didn’t just sing about mythical creatures, it was his way of telling tales of woe, battling what life deals to you and historical moments. My best friends Ernie Mathews, Cliff Strecker and I would sit around and try to decipher what Dio songs lyrics meant, what’s the best solos, rip each other if we got lyrics wrong and played “air band” together, (the original “rock band” game I guess, except we were mongoloids and used brooms and utensils).  I will not bore you with song after song that I love, but one song of his I have used for inspiration from the age of 16 to the present day, its one of his more “poppy tunes” from the movie “Vision Quest” called “Hungry for heaven”. It’s a cornballish type of “go out and get what you want in life” kind of number, but it was SO huge to me, kept me focused on the things I wanted to achieve. Today, when I hear it, the motivation it lends to me to progress in life, is still there and is immeasurable. I started to discover earlier Dio stuff material (Elf, Rainbow, and Black Sabbath) and was gutted with love for the music he put out and became a fan of his older stuff too. To this day “Heaven and Hell” by Black Sabbath is my favorite song of all time. It epitomized the “Dio” essence…dark, heavy riffs, amazing lyrics filled with cryptic meanings and messages, mixed in with angelic sounds of plucking guitar strings at the end, and of course, throughout the whole piece, his pulverizing, bomb spraying, hypnotic voice. Regrettably I only saw him twice in concert, I just have never been a big concert goer, but I wanted to see him with “Heaven and Hell” doing all the DIO/SABBATH songs, but I guess I just put it off and now ill never be able to see him again. His death was probably most upsetting because I never took the time and opportunity to see him as much as I should have and now I truly am regretting it. If anything, this taught me that you shouldn’t put off things, whether it’s seeing family, friends, and a beautiful view of the Grand Canyon or your favorite singer in concert. I always used to goof on people that would cry at the death of a celebrity, as much as any death is a loss and sad (except for the person who invented “auto tuning”) but I giggled at people crying over them, and thought, “You don’t even know the person, how could you really cry?” For the 1st time I think I understand, although I wasn’t crying like a starving baby, I was genuinely upset and had watery eyes when I heard his songs or people on the radio mentioning his passing all throughout the day. When someone inadvertently, affects your life in a positive way, especially during your adolescence years and beyond, it stays with you forever. So I would like to thank Ronnie James Dio, for being a constant in my life through his music, his voice and his passion for life. Giving me years of great memories through fun times and low ones.   |
YOU ROCK, love you man.    RJD 1942-2010

 Joe Conte