It was sometime this past Saturday night that we first heard that Ronnie James Dio was dead. It was after midnight and we had just bellied up to the Mink's front bar when we checked our Twitter feed and saw that Dio had passed on. Our body froze every metal bone in our body ached for a few minutes. We went home early from the bar, not even finishing our whiskey daisy. OK, we did finish the drink. What? It's like a manly margarita. It was premature by a few hours, but by the next afternoon we got official word that the 67-year old metal god had finally succumbed to stomach cancer. We last saw Dio live in concert in 2008 when he toured with Heaven & Hell, his project with everyone in Black Sabbath not named Ozzy Osbourne. We remember walking towards the buses in the backstage area and seeing his tiny frame crawl out of his carriage with a bottle of water in his hand. From afar he looked like a little grandmother, but when he jumped onstage, he was a magical metal lord.
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Sunday, the Internet was flooded with memorials to the man, everyone from Billy Corgan to Questlove from the Roots was eulogizing the man. He was much loved, and his death leaves a hole in his genre. It's when people like Dio pass on that you truly see what we lost and how much we should respect the ones we still have left. When Lee Hazlewood died in 2006, we didn't think it would affect us much as it would. We had discovered him a few before his death through the song "Some Velvet Morning" on Little Steven's Underground Garage. We went on a Hazlewood binge for a good month. Here are five deaths that shook the musical world, the ones that made people stop and reassess the impact that each musician had on our ears. We weren't even old enough to see him live, but we still miss Metallica's Cliff Burton to this very day. 5. Johnny Cash: We were kinda pissed when Cash died, because everyone came out of the woodwork to proclaim their love for the man when they were ambivalent towards him in life. Soon Wal-Mart was awash in tacky Cash posters and shirts. By the time Walk The Line hit theaters a few years later, every douchebag thought wearing a black pearl snap made them Cash-like. But even still, his death reminded us that we were lucky to have such a figure on Earth. Imitation isn't always the most sincere form of flattery. 4. Karen Carpenter: Carpenter's death splintered the life of those around her who saw the signs that she was sick but found it hard to intervene. The singer died of anorexia and heart failure just when she seemed to finally be getting out that damaging cycle. Her voice would have aged beautifully, but alas, her demons got to her. 3. Marc Bolan: Bolan was way more beloved in his native England than he will ever be here in the States. Some people we have even spoke with from across the pond even rank him higher than David Bowie. His death in a car accident in 1977 came right when the glammer was about to begin tinkering with punk rock. Damn, just imagine three chords in the hands of Bolan.
Jeff Buckley: Buckley is a strange case, because we aren't so sure that if in life he would have been so well-regarded as he was in death. When he drowned in 1997, few people knew of him, except he sang like an angel and that his father was Tim Buckley. But in the five years following his death, his reach grew. It proves that when people are gifted, the least we can do is sit and watch and take it all in before it could be gone. 1. Elliott Smith: No matter how Smith met his end, call it murder or suicide, it was a blow to the indie world. Had the guy stayed healthy and clean, he could have done wonders. Around the time of his death, his music was taking a turn for the aggressive, but that could have been telegraphing his death. We still beat ourselves up for not catching him at Mary Jane's about a decade ago.