For me, this is like losing my 'John Lennon'. I love metal. I've lived it, I've played it, I've written it, I've recorded it. My very first 'metal' album was 'The Mob Rules' which I got when it was released. I was 12. I was already a Kiss fan at that point, but they weren't metal. Sabbath with Dio was metal. The first notes of 'Turn up the Night' and Dio's powerful voice had me. I went out and got 'Heaven and Hell', and then the rest of the Sabbath back catalogue, and soon I was listening to Priest, Maiden, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Saxon, Diamond Head, and the next thing I knew, I'd bought a guitar. Dio has always been my favorite vocalist, and the first three Rainbow albums are constantly on play on my itunes and Ipod. As a guitarist, Iommi and Blackmore are my main influences, and it's no suprise that some of my favorite work was done with Dio.
In middle school and high school, although it sounds terribly cliched, we used to listen to 'Holy Diver' and 'Heaven and Hell' while playing Dungeons and Dragons. It just seemed perfect.
Dio's music, whether it be Elf, Ronnie and the Prophets (and yes, I have the 45s from that era, hard to find, but quite an amazing contrast when placed next to his other music), Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio or Heaven and Hell (which is really Sabbath), the man's music has been part of my life for thirty years. It's a stark reminder to those of us who loved metal back in the seventies and eighties that our heroes are getting older. I feel fortunate that I saw Heaven and Hell on their 2007 Tour. Even at 65, he sounded great, and spent hours after the show signing autographs and greeting fans. He's going to be missed.