I’m sure I’ve probably mentioned this a time or two before, but one of the biggest personal regrets I have is not catching the late, great Ronnie James Dio in concert before his death in 2010 (the closest I ever came was a 2019 Dio Returns show, where several former members of the Dio band paid tribute to their former singer while using live backing tracks of Ronnie behind them, along with a hologram of him). The recent documentary Dio: Dreamers Never Die certainly helps confirm this regret.
Spanning his entire life and career, the film covers every aspect of his time in rock music. From Elf to Rainbow, to Black Sabbath to Dio, there’s no shortage of story to tell. And featuring interviews and insight from fellow personalities and rockers like Rob Halford, Eddie Trunk, Lita Ford, and Jack Black, as well as former wife Wendy Dio, and a host of many of Ronnie’s former bandmates.
“The Man on the Silver Mountain,” “Heaven and Hell,” “We Rock,” “Holy Diver,” “Rainbow in the Dark,” “The Last in Line,” and “Rock and Roll Children” are just a few of the titles Dio gifted us during his time on this Earth, and remain unmistakable classics to this day. The origins to many of these tracks are meticulously covered in great detail, among many others.
But of course, there’s only one way Dio’s life story can possibly end…with his unfortunate death. The results are some of the most tear-jerking moments compiled on film in recent memory (no doubt enough to make a grown man such as myself shed a tear or two). But that just stands to reason the true testament of Ronnie James Dio; every bit of praise is not only accurate, but deserved. He left behind a legacy that most artists today could only dream of ever having, and those of us who knew his music, understood his deep impact and worth.
(Shot from the Dio Returns show Rewind It Magazine covered at The Plaza Live in Orlando, FL on 6/2/19. Photo by Brooke Striewski).
Although I’ve seen two of the bands he fronted during his lifetime (Black Sabbath and Dio Disciples, a group made up mainly of former members of the Dio band), and have been lucky enough to even meet his former wife/manager Wendy Dio, I regrettably never had the chance to catch the incomparable Ronnie James Dio while he was still with us on this Earth.
This long overdue, posthumous autobiography, Rainbow in the Dark, describes the first half of the life of one of rock’s greatest warriors with amazing detail. From forming the foundations of early groups like Elf and Rainbow, to reaching epic proportions with Sabbath and Dio, it’s a fascinating look into the life of one of rock’s last true class acts.
Wendy Dio also helps add some personal insight along the way as well; whether discussing tumultuous break ups with former bandmates and business partners such as Ritchie Blackmore and Tony Iommi, or the invention of the “devil horns” in those early Sabbath days, everything is covered perfectly. The only downfall? Unfortunately the story ends (as it also begins) in 1986, with Dio rising to the heights of headlining Madison Square Garden. Although it does make for a perfect ending story wise, it does leave more to desire. One can only hope there is more material out there for a part two, and the gap is eventually bridged.
Ronnie James Dio might be gone, but the music he left behind across multiple decades and via numerous staple bands (including Black Sabbath and Rainbow) will forever live on. This latest reissue of a 2008 Dio show is a perfect example of just that, showcasing the immense talents of one of the greatest frontmen in rock to ever step up to the microphone.
Originally recorded live at London Astoria, this collection contains not only all nine tracks from the original 1983 masterpiece album of the same name (as it’s title suggests), but a number of other essential cuts from throughout Dio’s career. Classic’s like Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” and Rainbow’s “Man on the Silver Mountain” help make up this seventeen track collection. And even the physical editions come with some cool perks, including an album-sized, 3D lenticular art piece with the vinyl version.
There’s even another Dio reissue being released in tandem with this one, Evil or Divine: Live in NewYork City, but Holy Diver: Live is definitely the strongest of the two. But if you’re even half the Dio fan I am, you should be able to appreciate either of these collections.