Today marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Ronnie James Dio, one of the true greats of heavy metal music. Despite his diminutive stature, he possessed one of rock’s biggest voices and personalities and was loved by nearly everyone who ever came in contact with him, be they bandmates, fellow musicians or fans.
Born Ronald James Padavona, the child of Italian immigrants, he adopted the Dio moniker and played in a succession of bands throughout the ’60s and early ’70s until being recruited by former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore to sing in his highly influential hard rock band Rainbow. He then joined the reinvigorated Black Sabbath just in time for metal’s ascent into the mainstream before striking out on his own and delivering some of the genre’s most classic albums and songs.
His soaring, melodic vocals set new benchmarks for heavy metal singing while his preoccupation with sword & sorcery became the genre’s lyrical template. Just as important as his musical legacy was his influence on metal culture by his popularization of the hand sign commonly known as the “Sign of the Horns,” or “Metal Horns.” Learned from his Grandmother as a way to ward off the evil eye, Dio may not have been the first to ever use the hand sign but he started flashing it during his tenure in Sabbath and fellow headbangers followed suit, making it the universal sign of heavy metal. So let’s check out 20 badass photos of Dio flashing the horns throughout his legendary career and honor the man and all the great music he brought us over the years.
Watch one of Ronnie James Dio’s final interviews with the hosts of That Metal Show.