HEAVEN AND HELL â€“ Itâ€™s true, Ronnie James (Padavona) Dio did rock for a long, long time, since the sixties in fact, before succumbing to stomach cancer yesterday. Now a nation of metal heads is left to wonder, where will we get our videos that involve swords and demons and strange video games? A nation of sports fans might not have the same intense sense of loss, but there has to be a way to work this sad passing into todayâ€™s post. Could those devil horns he was always flashing actually have been the Texas symbol for â€œHook â€˜em horns?â€ I donâ€™t think so, as Dio grew up in Cortland, NY. This left your humble West Coast correspondent with a timely theme but little connection until, sifting through the hundreds of accolades poring in, I came across this gem from Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian: â€œHe always had a kind word and a smile, and he loved the Yankees.â€ Yes! With his joining Johnny Ramone on stage in the sky, the Yankees surely have the most kick-ass dead fan band. And now that this is a sports story as well as a metal one, I can proceed to offer a musical review, a mix tape if you will, of some of Dioâ€™s choice hits:
NEVER MORE: Going back to 1973 for this one, as Dio was polishing his style with his band Elf. Unfortunately for Bostonians, after the Bâ€™s ignominious exit the other night, never more can they take quite the same joy in the Yankees â€™04 collapse. Karmaâ€™s a bitch.
THE MAN ON THE SILVER MOUNTAIN: Elf opened up for Deep Purple, and Ritchie Blackmore was so impressed he tapped Dio for his new band, Rainbow. This was the first single. Is he talking about Al Davis? Heâ€™s usually wearing silver (and black), and now heâ€™s got his own mountain out over center field at the Oakland Alameda. Wonâ€™t someone make him holy again?
KILL THE KING: This will surely become Clevelandâ€™s theme song when Lebron leaves for greener (or bluer, or purpler) pastures.
HEAVEN AND HELL: When Ozzy flamed out with Tommy Iommi, and Dio had enough of Blackmore’s lunacy, our man stepped off the Rainbow and into Black Sabbath for two of their biggest albums, starting with this one. The title track must sum up how the two baseball fan factions in New York must feel about their lives lately. Thatâ€™s of course open to interpretation, since Yankee fans could look at their lives as heaven, but Met fans could also point to Dioâ€™s enduring themes of the battle between good and evil. Or maybe it just has something to do with the Devil coaching the Lakersâ€¦
MOB RULES: Of course the mob have gone hand in hand with sports for as long as people have been gambling on themâ€¦but really, I only wanted to include this one because of this clip from Heavy Metal:
HOLY DIVER: This was the first album under Dioâ€™s self named band. Were its songs about Greg Louganis? The only thing holy about that guy was his head after banging it on the platform. Was it about Sonny Liston in that second Ali fight? Perhaps it was about the Mets, diving for Marlins this past weekend, but instead diving in the standings.
RAINBOW IN THE DARK: Grote did a great piece on the Rainbow Man last week, and this song could also be about some of the University of Hawaii teams, the Rainbow Warriorsâ€¦though the lights went out on their football team when they dropped the â€œRainbowâ€ from their name. Too gay? The baseball team is called just The Rainbows, and frankly, what could be better than playing college ball in Hawaii?
THE LAST IN LINE: Iâ€™ve probably picked on the Mets more than usual in here, but I figure thatâ€™s the way Dio wouldâ€™ve wanted it. Of course, being last in the standings for the Mets means theyâ€™ll be first in line for next yearâ€™s draft.
RIP Dio. Grote’s Gripes, tomorrow.