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R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio

on May 16, 2010, 3:54pm

Ronnie James Dio, an American heavy metal vocalist who performed with the likes of Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, and Rainbow, died today following a six month battle with stomach cancer. The New Hampshire native was 67.

Dio’s wife and manager, Wendy, released the following statement (via RIO!B):

“Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45 a.m. [on Sunday] 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.”

During his five decade-plus career, Dio was involved in a number of music projects. His first major break came when his band Elf opened for Deep Purple in 1969, and he ultimately went on to form Rainbow with Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. In 1979, after leaving Rainbow, Dio joined Black Sabbath, replacing Ozzy Osbourne, and was instrumental in the creation of the band’s acclaimed 1980 effort Heaven and Hell.

In the latter part of his career, he formed the band Dio and collaborated with former Black Sabbath members under the moniker Heaven & Hell. Heaven & Hell had planned to embark on a tour this summer, but canceled those plans because of Dio’s ongoing treatment for stomach cancer.

Dio was also known for popularizing the “devil’s horns” gesture.

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