Ronnie James Dio was born Ronald James Padavona in 1942. In 1979 he joined Black Sabbath, replacing Ozzy Ozbourne and skyrocketing himself to fame. However, three years later, he would leave the band along with bandmate and drummer Vinny Appice to form their own group. Because of his massive success, Dio’s name was well known, so the band Dio took that fame and ran with it for practical reasons. Here are the top ten best Dio (the band) songs of all time.
Mystery is one of the most underrated songs Dio ever made. The visually stunning video had high production values and top-tier special effects for the time. In addition to the gorgeous display of creativity, the visuals of Mystery also show off something that no one talks about but nevertheless made all Dio’s songs exceptional. You can listen to any Dio song and understand every word he says as clearly as if Ronnie sat beside you with his wife Wendy Dio.
9. Wild One
Wild One is a quintessentially 1990s metal song. Everything about this is song is a near-ironic representation of youth. A song about how no one understands and you can hide behind your sorrows both speaks deeply to teenagers everywhere and makes older adults roll their eyes. The video features skateboarders and mosh pits, which are undeniable icons of the ‘wild youth’ in the 90s.
8. I Could Have Been A Dreamer
I Could Have Been A Dreamer is more than a great song. If Mystery shows off Ronnie’s mastery of diction despite being a heavy metal singer, then this song shows off his range. From melodies to the wilder vocalizations that characterize metal, the singing is always outstanding. However, the guitar solo and synth in this song are also truly superb.
7. Hey Angel
Hey Angel is an undeniable classic. The guitar shreds, the drums make themselves felt in all the right ways throughout the song, and Ronnie wails into the microphone. If you were fortunate enough to see Dio live in the 80s or early 90s, it’s an experience that cannot be recreated. There’s a reason many fans call RJD the king of metal. Even a relatively tame song like Hey Angel rocks hard. As Metal Archives points out, this song has the feel of Heaven and Hell era Black Sabbath, yet the entire album this song comes from is often dismissed and back burnered by fans who are upset about the changing lineup of the band at the time.
6. Rock N Roll Children
The song Rock n’ Roll Children is all about being yourself. It was a common theme in 80s songs and films for characters to run away from an oppressive straight-edge society. The video for this song would come with a huge trigger warning on it now to let people know that it deals with abuse issues. Still, at the time, kids teaming up to escape bad parents, step-parents, other mean kids, and similar situations was a significant part of popular media, and it shows in songs like this one.
5. All The Fools Sailed Away
With the theme of innocence and damnation, songs like All The Fools Sailed Away upset parents and conservatives. However, the incredible stage productions of Dio tours with their mysticism, magic, monsters, and fire were even more controversial. Yet, for the most part, the whole dark image of the music was about the experience and not any deeper desire to ‘be’ evil as the title of the album, Dream Evil, suggested. By all accounts, Ronnie was a polite and well-spoken individual off stage. As the Orlando Sentinel points out, it was all for show, and the band often gave whimsical nicknames to the monsters inhabiting their album covers and performances.
4. Sacred Heart
Sacred Heart is a song, not about the religious context of the term, but about finding the core of who you are. The song talks about the cycle of life and taking control of your story. Searching for what matters most to you is vital. However, chasing your dreams is never easy.
3. The Last In Line
The kid in The Last In Line video is Miro Fiore “Meeno” Peluce, a child actor. His outstanding portrayal of a young man just beginning to open his eyes to the many ways we are enslaved by modern society is outstanding. Meanwhile, the song itself has exceptional guitar work and lyrics Dio wrote himself.
2. Holy Diver
Holy Diver is almost tied for the best and most well-known Dio song of all time. The lyrics are a reflection of how Ronnie felt about his Catholic upbringing. It’s easy to hear how much he felt the message of love was distorted and taught in a distasteful and hateful manner. When he says, ‘you’ve been down too long in the midnight sea,’ it talks about being surrounded by darkness that distorts your experience. He worries about ‘what’s becoming of me’ and tells the holy diver to stay away from him.
1. Rainbow In The Dark
Rainbow in the Dark is the crown jewel in the king of rock’s crown. Everything about this song is a perfect gestalt. The drums are a solid base for exceptional, memorable synth and guitar. Out front, you have the lyrics by Dio himself, singing about depression and trying to find your way out of the dark in his angriest, most aggressive tone. The guitar solo absolutely wails. There is no downside, and the whole thing from open to close is immaculate.
Ronnie James Dio made incredible contributions to rock and metal. He was known for his outstanding voice and phenomenal stage presence in public, but privately, most people say Ronnie was just a wonderful human being. Sadly, it has been eleven years since he passed away from stomach cancer at the age of sixty-seven, but his music lives on in these songs and many others.