Ronnie James Dio (July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010) was an American heavy metal vocalist and songwriter. He performed with, amongst others, Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, and his own band Dio. Other musical projects include the collective fundraiser Hear 'n Aid. He was widely hailed as one of the most powerful singers in heavy metal, renowned for his consistently powerful voice and for popularizing the "devil horns" hand gesture in metal culture. Prior to his death, he was collaborating on a project with former Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice, under the moniker Heaven & Hell, whose first studio album, The Devil You Know, was released on April 28, 2009. Dio died of stomach cancer on May 16, 2010. One of the last songs he recorded was titled "Metal Will Never Die".
Ronnie James Dio was born Ronald James Padavona in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the only child of Italian parents. They lived in Portsmouth until the family moved to Cortland, New York early in his life. His parents raised him in the Roman Catholic Church, an experience he found unsatisfactory.
He initially played the trumpet and French horn and even recorded several singles with various rockabilly bands when he was a boy. When he was in high school, he joined a band called The Vegas Kings, in which he played the bass guitar. He eventually became the lead singer of this band, which changed its name to Ronnie & The Rumblers and finally to Ronnie And The Red Caps. Their first 7-inch single was released in 1958 on Reb Records under the name Ronnie & The Redcaps. Its A-side, 'Lover' still had Billy DeWolfe on vocals but Dio's voice can be heard clearly in the back. The B-side, 'Conquest' is an instrumental in the style of the Ventures, featuring Dio on trumpet.