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Ronnie James Dio: RIP May 17, 2010

Posted by Anton A in American music, British music.
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Ronnie’s passing hits close to the bone. Tomorrow, as fate would have it, we’re setting off to Ronnie’s home turf up in Ithaca NY to attend someone else’s funeral.
 
Ronnie hailed from Cortland, 20 miles up the road. The Cornell – Ithaca College area was a nexus for bands that wanted to work, and Ronnie honed his chops there as the 1960s were revving up. I first saw him as leader of Ronnie Dio & The Prophets, sometime around 1967, a hot covers band that was always playing bars and frat parties. A year later they’d turned on, tuned in and transformed themselves into The Electric Elves. Actually, Ronnie may have kept both bands going at the same time: Dio & The Prophets for gigs that needed pop & soul songs, and the Elves for affairs more in tune with the growing spirit of the times, Maybe it was all the same band with different names and clothes. It was the Sixties, who can be sure of anything 42 years later? In any event, at any event, you could always count on Ronnie & company to generate a good time.
 
After I left Ithaca, I didn’t hear of Ronnie again for 5 years.  Then I bought the Rainbow album, because one had to see what Ritchie Blackmore was up to, after all. There was Ronnie’s name on the album cover. I couldn’t believe it.

I went to that first Rainbow tour when it hit NYC. I had never seen a band with the vocalist cranked so loud: never, and I’d already seen The Who around 10 times by then.

I remember an interview that Ronnie did around the time of that tour, where he said that he’d migrated to England because so many English bands had this over-the-top attitude that he liked; they’d look at their live act & say “Yeah, there’s got to be a way that we can do that just a little bit louder.” I always wondered if that interview was the genesis of the “Turn it up to 11” bit from Spinal Tap.

So long, Ronnie. You were a force. 

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