Hard to believe it’s been 4 years today that we lost the great Ronnie James Dio. I remember clearly getting the call and standing outside in my driveway with tears in my eyes. I had spoken with Ronnie just a few days before and he was lifting my spirits assuring me he would be okay! That was Dio the man in a nutshell. I was so lucky to have had him as a friend for many many years and the stories I could share would be endless. I remember just having finished writing the chapter on him in my first book, then sitting down to rewrite it in light of the news he was gone. That was not easy. Over the last four years I have been supremely honored to have been a part of so many Dio related releases and events thanks to Wendy. All to help raise funds for the cancer prevention charity she formed in his honor. From first hosting his public memorial, when he passed away, to most recently writing liner notes for This Is Your Life tribute and auctioning off items on the MOR Cruise, it has always been with great pride that I can help contribute to the mans memory and celebrate the music he has given us. Ronnie was every bit the amazing singer we all knew him to be. The proof is in the recordings that will live forever. But for those lucky enough to have met him he was truly one of the nicest and most genuine people ever. I learned so much from him in the decades I knew him and in the countless interviews I did with him on radio and TV. Many laughs too! He had a great sense of humor! One story I’ll never forget is being in England with him in 2006 when he first rejoined Sabbath. I wanted to go see UFO so bad one night but they were playing on the other side of the UK. Ronnie busted my balls non stop about how a true fan would make the effort to travel the 10 hours by train to be at that show. He was so brutal on me about it as we drank beer at the pub I actually attempted to make it, but missed my first train connection. Then when he saw me come back into the pub a couple hours later he actually offered to get me a driver to take me! At the point I just pulled up a stool with him and hung at the hotel. Looking back now I am so happy I missed that train and got to spend some great hours laughing and talking over dinner with Ronnie. Like I said, the stories can go on and on and likely will. He deserves the accolades as a musician and human being for sure. I’ll open my show tonight on Q104.3 NYC with a set of Dio music in his honor. RIP RJD.
On a related note something I promised I would do for Ronnie’s doctors. Ronnie never was one to go to a doctor and get screened or checked on. His doctor told me if he did, he very well might be with us still. So important as we get older to keep up on screenings when you can. You may have seen me talk openly in the past about colonoscopy’s. My Dad had colon cancer and because it was caught early he is a fine. I now get screened when needed. It is nothing to be ashamed of and so important. We are all getting older so do what you can to help you beat the odds. If anything positive can come out of Ronnie’s passing maybe it’s to create awareness for keeping up on this. Especially in a male dominated world of hard rock and metal. Peter Criss has done a great job creating awareness for male breast cancer and because of early detection is fine. Dio did not get screened and sadly we lost him too soon. So do what you can to help yourself to keep rocking and best to all!