Most musicians are lucky if they get to be part of just one quality project that sticks around with listeners. The late great Ronnie James Dio on the other hand pretty much struck gold with every single band he had a part in: from the Seventies rock of Rainbow, to Black Sabbath's heavenly second epoch, to the pure fantastic ass-kickery of Dio. His vocals perfectly represented the soaring heights heavy metal could reach, and his unmatched fusion of technical ability and emotion made each line more memorable than the last.
So, naturally, choosing the single best Dio song is a daunting task. Which is why we asked you, our readers, to weigh in with your thoughts. And you did not disappoint. See what song across Dio's entire epic discography you voted as his most elite. Dio forever!
Rainbow — the proto-metal heavy rockers founded by ex-Deep Purple guitar mastermind Ritchie Blackmore — was Ronnie James Dio's post-Elf breakout band. Standout track "Man on the Silver Mountain" — from Rainbow's self-titled 1975 debut — is less ostentatious than Dio's later solo material and more rooted in bluesy hard rock. Its irresistible groove and killer riffs are the perfect vehicle to showcase the dynamism and range that Dio would explore throughout his long and prolific career.
Like a pure victorious battle cry, lumbering confidently through blackened battlefields of despair, 1983's "Rainbow in the Dark" is perhaps Dio's most uplifting, celebratory anthem. The lyrics narrate the struggle of a fiercely independent individual shining in the face of opposition, and its deliberate pacing combined with the simple but unforgettable synth line are a magical foundation on which the singer can unleash his majestic howl.
Rainbow's 1976 album Rising featured a truly legendary lineup of musicians, and each member played off each other excellently on the epic "Stargazer." Ronnie James Dio is able to imbue his vocals with an insane amount of emotion to match Ritchie Blackmore's heavenly guitar work. Dio also has the ability to make a song about wizards not sound corny or contrived, instead crafting a true parable about hubris, the human condition and determination that can be applied to any setting, person or time.
Perhaps the most truly metal man of all time, Dio's ability to create outright outrageousness with a straight face — and make it look tough as fucking nails — is on full display with "Holy Diver." Part Eighties rock anthem, part medieval-tinged banger, the song demands you throw the horns up to the sky as the power of Ronnie J. runs through your pulsating, amped-up veins.
"Heaven and Hell," from Black Sabbath's 1980 album of the same name, is the linchpin for decades of debate over whether Ronnie James Dio or Ozzy Osbourne is the superior Sabbath singer. Avoiding that quagmire entirely ... It's undeniable that this track is an absolutely perfect testament to why Dio deserves worship and respect. Simply put, no one else can match what he manages to pull off in the song's early notes — and his ability to switch up between epic harmonies and furious assaults is outstanding. It's an excellent addition to the Sabbath canon, and a monument to why so many fell in love with heavy metal in the first place.