The first time I was consciously aware of Ronnie James Dio (RIP) was in 1987 when I was listening to a Metal show on the radio. They played Neon Knights from Black Sabbath’s 1980 Heaven & Hell album with Dio as front man. The sound of the song grabbed me. I filed that song away in my memory till I could own the record.
In about 1994 I was going through a Metal phase, taking in artists like Candlemass, King Diamond, BoltThrower and Winter. Deicide were the buzz with the kids and me being me I wanted to look at the roots more than the new leaves so I sought cornerstone records and finally got H&H.
And what a record it is. Heaven & Hell is definitely a stand out record that bridges both classic Heavy Metal and the emerging New Wave Of Heavy Metal. Ronnie is one of the most important voices in modern Rock (not just Metal). His natural ability coupled with professionalism and obvious love for his craft makes him a joy to listen to.
Around this time I also noticed an advert in a magazine with Henry Rollins (a had a friend who was Rollins nut) saying that every record collection had to have at least one Dio record. It was clever marketing to try to tap into the Hard Core kids and bring some of their dollars back from Pantera records.
We were at a flea market/boot sale at a shopping center car park and what should I find but a battered copy of Dio’s Holy Diver LP for 50c. I immediately remembered Rollins’ advice and took the plunge. It felt funny to buy a record because of a magazine advert but hell, Henry is bigger than me.
From the moment the needle hit the start of a crackly Stand Up And Shout I knew I had spent well. Holy Diver is THE Dio record to get and I got really lucky. I still have that copy of the record. After a few cleans and a lot of plays the record is not so noisy but I won’t be getting another copy as this is part of the whole experience all serious music lovers and collectors live for.
If you don’t have either of these records then you aren’t living a full life.