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Posted on May 19, 2010

By: Graham "Gruhamed" Hartmann

In the wake of the passing of legendary metal vocalist RONNIE JAMES DIO, there have been countless tributes all over the internet, but one in particular has rubbed DIO fans in all the wrong ways. With the headline of "Remembering Metal Great Ronnie James Dio," David Marchese of SPIN has angered mourning metal fans worldwide. The article, which is meant to be a remembrance piece outlining the influence and achievements of one of metal's most important front men reeks of disrespect and underhanded jokes, reducing Dio to nothing more than a pimply faced teen who played too much Dungeons and Dragons.

Beginning with the factual inaccuracy of Dio passing away on Monday morning, (it was actually Sunday morning) Marchese states:

"Ronnie James Dio, who died Monday morning due to complications from stomach cancer at aged 67, was 5'4", looked like Gollum, sang about riding tigers, pretended to kill dragons with a sword on stage, and popularized the Devil horn salute. For those reasons, he is a hero to many, Dave Grohl, and Jack Black included. For those reasons, today is a sad day.

It's easy enough for people who aren't into metal fantasy to make fun of a guy like Dio. Taken at face value, the attributes I mentioned above are funny. But those same things, the stuff of fantasy, are also necessary. Not everyone can relate to a Mick Jagger, a Joe Strummer, a Jack White. Those guys are canny. They're good looking. They probably never had a tough time getting a girlfriend. It can be depressingly hard for some of us to relate to those kinds of stars. So sometimes — a lot of times — it feels more natural to make believe. To, as Dio did, dress up in leather and frills, pick up a plastic sword, and sing as if you had the power to send the world into permanent midnight. It takes imagination to do something like that. It takes courage."

Marchese proceeds to sum up Dio's career in a way that many fans (check the comment section) see as forced and contrived. Though he notes Dio's success in ELF, RAINBOW and BLACK SABBATH, his smarmy analysis of the late singer continues:

"The songs were never again as good as they were on Holy Diver — and the swords and steeds imagery that he did so much to spread seemed a little iffy when the music started to slip — but for the rest of his life, Dio kept putting out albums and playing shows (his 2007 "Heaven and Hell" reunion tour with Sabbath was killer) that showed there were places to go and rock stars to believe in for those of us for whom fantasy seemed far more believable than reality."

His description of an aging, washed up, musical wizard struck a blow to those devastated by the passing of the metal great, but the fans who followed his career until his death know better. At 67, Dio's voice was just as powerful and electrifying as it ever was, a rarity in the music world. His last contribution to metal, HEAVEN AND HELL's 2009 release The Devil You Know, was praised by critics and metal fans alike, and successfully showed the world that Dio could still make the hair stand on the back of your neck and send a chill down your spine. I posted my own comment on the spin.com article, and I encourage those who share my distaste do the same.

"This article is both non-factual and insulting. Dio is a legend whose dedication to music lasted yearly 50 years. He inspired countless musicians and his voice transcended the genre of metal. By labeling him as nothing more than a leather-clad, sword-weilding cartoon character you're not only disgracing him, but you're proving yourself to be a lackluster source for musical knowledge and a poor at best journalist. Ronnie deserves more respect than a half-assed blurb on a website that couldn't care less about him or metal as a whole.

R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio"

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