Reasons why he was awesome, in the true sense of the word, and why he'll be remembered as one of the most important singers in rock history:
NOBODY ELSE SOUNDED OR LOOKED LIKE HIM
He could appear absolutely evil, with his sharp eyebrows and mass of dark curly hair. As he aged, his hair thinned and made him look even more frightening. Pair that with his note-perfect wail and you got one impressive front man.
In real life, he was polite, articulate and had a winning smile. I never got to see him perform, and yeah, I regret that.
A SMALL MAN WITH A HUGE VOICE
As some of you may already know, I myself am not very big. This guy is like a hero to me - only shoulder high to his bandmates but on stage, larger than life! It's like his whole body was filled with that magnificent voice. He is unmistakeable.
HE WAS ALWAYS WORKING, AND CONSISTENTLY SOUNDING PERFECT
For the last couple years, he was recording and touring with Heaven And Hell.
Some rock history for you: this is a later version of Black Sabbath.
They took the band name from the title of their first album together, after Ozzy left the band. They don't call themselves Black Sabbath because that's the Ozzy Osbourne-fronted band. Heaven And Hell toured, and last year made a blistering studio album. It'll be the last one, sadly.
But Dio fronted several bands in his career, as well as a few solo albums.
HE WAS INTO RAINBOWS AND DRAGONS AND SWORDS AND STUFF BUT WAS STILL INFINITELY HAAAAVY
He was the singer for this band, formed by the guitarist formerly of Deep Purple. This record contains a lyric about a "rainbow in the dark." Think about that for a minute.
Jethro has this on vinyl and in the late 80s we used to listen to it in his "band room." Good times.
HIS RECORDS HAVE SOME OF THE SCARIEST COVERS THIS SIDE OF IRON MAIDEN
What in the disturbing heck is going on here??? Scared the snot outta me when I was 17 but what a cool piece of work this album is. Jethro had this on cassette. We'd listen to it in his '67 Strato Chief. See that logo? Jethro drew that on his school notebooks. Badass.
Twenty years has sort of eased the scare factor on that cover art. But age hadn't dulled these guys at all. In 2009 they came out with possibly the friggin scariest album art EVER.
So Jethro bought it on iTunes so I only have to listen to it and not look at it. I don't listen to it nearly often enough because I kind of don't really know how it works, so um, I have to get somebody to burn a disc. Then we can listen to it in our VW Jetta. Yeah we have a respectable car now but damn it feels good to crank up something that makes your ribs tremble.
I felt guilty about something, even though I wasn't sure what exactly, when I looked at this record.
I mean, that's just not right, is it? Jethro had this on vinyl too. Of course he did. We'd sit on his wrecked couch and listen to this. Other people would debate on which singer was better in Black Sabbath: Ozzy or Dio? I never thought that should be a debate. My world was big enough for both.
HE IS WIDELY CREDITED WITH INVENTING/POPULARIZING THE "DEVIL HORNS".
He explained that his tiny Italian immigrant grandmother, would often make a gesture with her hand to ward off the "evil eye." He just adapted it to look like a set of horns.
And it totally worked for him.
HE WAS RESPECTFUL TO HIS AUDIENCE
I love the Heaven And Hell DVD. Dio never uses that stupid "rock voice" and you know the one I'm talking about. howz everay body to-NIGHT-ah? He spoke to his fans in his real speaking voice, New Yawk accent and all. He was real.
HE COULD WEAR SPARKLY STUFF WITH BELL SLEEVES AND STILL BE RIGHTEOUS.
How many dudes can get away with this????
HE WAS AWESOME AND WE'LL MISS HIM.