Photo courtesy of Ronnie James Dio
I've had a long and checkered musical career, singing in great rock bands like Rainbow and Dio, but I have to say my favourite experience came from the time I replaced Ozzy Osbourne as singer of Black Sabbath. Personally, I feel that Black Sabbath had shot its bolt by the time I joined. Their last successful record was quite a few years previous and Ozzy's problems were becoming well documented. Ozzy hated me for it but it wasn't like I went out to steal his job. I had been planning to record a song with Tony Iommi for months previous to Ozzy's departure. Just prior to joining the band, I had a meeting with Tony and he said, "Can I play something for you?" and he played me a riff. I said, "Give me five minutes," came back with some lyrics, and that song ended up being "Children of the Sea." The next thing I knew, Tony told me: "I don't want to play with Ozzy any more, Ronnie, I want to play with you." We went on to make the classic Heaven And Hell record, which put the band back on the map both commercially and artistically. Of course, this made Ozzy think I was a little bastard, and soon Geezer left the band as well. He had personal problems at the time. They're all very unusual people, but Geezer was especially not happy because it was traumatic for him for Ozzy to be gone. We played our first show to a coliseum of 102,000 people and I have to say it went well. Of course, there were a few one-fingered salutes from the Ozzy faithful, but I didn't let that bother me. Even though I have more vocal talent than Ozzy, he was still a musical icon. Soon after this, Bill Ward left the band on the eve of a gig in Denver, saying he couldn't face flying any more. Now, 26 member changes later, Black Sabbath are more famous and successful than they've ever been. Thing is, I don't envy them at all. It's not like when I see a Ferrari driving past I think: "I hope that bastard crashes into a tree and dies." I think: "Cool, I'd like to end up owning a car like that someday." RONNIE JAMES DIO
Dio is on a world tour this year to promote their new DVD and album Evil Or Divine. If you ever wondered why you only ever saw a picture of their mascot guy from the waist up, Ronnie says: "It's because Murray [the mascot's name] was too damn well-hung."