I was very sad to hear of the death of Ronnie James Dio, who died this weekend of stomach cancer at the age of 67. I had met Dio and his wife Wendy a couple of years ago at the premiere of the film "Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny". Tenacious D, the rock duo comprising of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, asked Dio to do a cameo in the film, which he agreed to do. I negotiated his acting agreement with his wife and manager Wendy Dio, with whom I struck up a friendship over the phone. Wendy was extremely protective of Dio, despite the fact that they were no longer together as a couple. I finally met both Wendy and Dio at the film's premiere party, which took place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Wendy and Ronnie were both delightful in-person. Despite being Heavy Metal royalty, Dio was extremely humble. He was very grateful to be given the opportunity to appear in the film, in which he played himself. The scene comprised of a poster of Dio behind the door in a young Jack Black's bedroom. When the young JB prays to the Dio poster for advice, Dio comes alive in the poster and gives young Jack Black some advice. The scene gave Dio the opportunity to sing on-camera and is a small, but pivotal role in the film. A friend of mine at the premiere was a huge Dio fan, so I introduced them and Dio spent quite a long time talking to my friend and hanged out at the party for the rest of the evening. Ronnie James Dio was a slight man, thin and wiry, standing only about 5'4", but he had a monstrous voice and long curly brown hair. He started his career in rock in the mid-1970's as the lead vocalist of "Rainbow" and then eventually replaced Ozzy Osbourne as lead singer in "Black Sabbath". Later in his career, he formed the band "Dio" and later "Heaven and Hell". Ronnie was born to an Italian-American family in New York. He changed his last name from Padovana to Dio, which means "God" in Italian. He truly was a Heavy Metal god. Rest in Peace Dio.
UPDATE 05/20/2010: There will be a public memorial for Ronnie James Dio on Sunday, May 30th at 2pm located at The Hall Of Liberty/Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068. More details here.
Copyright 2010 Romy Schneider. All rights reserved.