Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Ronnie James Dio


The heavy metal singer, Ronnie James Dio, died on May 16th at the age of 67. He had been suffering from stomach cancer.

To many Dio was best known for fronting Black Sabbath after the departure of Ozzy Osbourne, but for me he is best remembered as the vocalist of Rainbow, the band Richie Blackmore formed whilst still in Deep Purple, the debut album being one of Dio’s all time favourites.

Dio went on to have further success under his own name during a career stretching over 53 years.

This album marked the first collaboration between Dio and Blackmore, and it is essentially the lineup of Elf, Dio’s previous band, with Blackmore instead of Steve Edwards. Blackmore would dismiss all the other Elf musicians and recruit new players for subsequent Rainbow albums.

Two of the songs on the album were cover versions. “Black Sheep of the Family”, a song that Deep Purple had refused to record for their album Stormbringer, was a cover of a song recorded by Quatermass, and “Still I’m Sad” was an instrumental cover of a Yardbirds track.

The original vinyl release had a gatefold sleeve, although later reissues on the budget arms of Polydor reduced this to a single sleeve. This line-up never performed live and the live-shots used in the album art are of Blackmore in his Deep Purple days and of Elf playing live. The album’s songs, however, have been performed by subsequent Rainbow lineups.

With founder Ritchie Blackmore retaining only Ronnie James Dio from the previous album, he recruited keyboard player Tony Carey, bassist Jimmy Bain and drummer Cozy Powell to complete the new line-up, 1976 saw the release of “Rainbow Rising”

Recorded in Munich in less than a month, the album was overseen by Deep Purple engineer and rock producer Martin Birch.

The album marks Dio’s first work with bassist Jimmy Bain: Bain would later play bass in Dio’s solo band.

1977 saw the release of what perhaps can be described as their definitive album, “On Stage” was your classic format of a “double live album” though due to some extended work out of songs it still only featured eight tracks with sides 2 and 3 filled by “Catch The Rainbow” and a cover of a “Mistreated” respectively, the latter of course being a Deep Purple song.

The album was recorded live over several German and Japanese dates in late 1976 during the Rising world tour. Many of the tracks were spliced together from different dates by producer Martin Birch, and the running order was changed to more easily fit four sides of vinyl.

The recording features the customary introduction to a Rainbow show – the classic quote from the The Wizard of Oz, “Toto: I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. We must be over the rainbow!” with the last word repeated as an echo, then the actual band plays a musical phrase from the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow before breaking into Kill the King.

Ronnie James Dio’s defining track may however be the title track from Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll  the third studio album released in 1978, a staple inclusion in most “Classic Rock” type compilation CD’s.

Although Bob Daisley & David Stone are listed on the album credits for their contributions they joined the band part way through the recording sessions and only appear on a couple of tracks. (Stone part wrote “Gates of Babylon” but was never credited). Blackmore played most of the bass parts himself for the album.

“Kill the King” was already a staple part of the tour setlists, opening Rainbow concerts since mid-1976. It first appeared on the live album On Stage in 1977.

After this album Rainbow and Dio drifted out of my music radar, Dio went on to front Sabbath but for me “Paranoid” couldn’t be beaten.

He will however be greatly missed by many

Long Live Rock & Roll

May 22, 2010 Posted by | New News, Video | , , , | 1 Comment


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