Ronnie James Dio resumed his post as God of Earth, Heaven and Hell Sunday, after a 67-year mission on Earth correcting errors in previous gospels through heavy metal. His earthly form was diagnosed with stomach cancer in November 2009. As of this March, Dio was still optimistic about continuing his metal career, and was undergoing chemotherapy at Houston's M. D. Anderson hospital. "Why come to Houston?" said Dio in an interview in March with Steve Simon of Houston's Channel 39. "It's the best hospital. Cancer, I'll kick the hell out of you." Dio was one of metal's definitive personalities, with a pedigree that was simply undeniable. He fronted legendary acts like Rainbow and Black Sabbath after the departure of Ozzy Osbourne, and went on to a very successful solo career, keeping metal all things it should be: Dragons, swords and devil-horn salutes. Though his diminutive form and over-the-top theatrics were often snidely remarked on, the Grand Wizard of Classic Rock remained one of the most respected of the gods well into later life. In addition to his solo output, he returned to front his version of Black Sabbath, called Heaven and Hell to avoid confusion with Ozzy's outings, and was the subject of a tribute song by Tenacious D. Dio later made an appearance in their movie The Pick of Destiny as a spirit guide.
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Earlier this month, Heaven and Hell cancelled their upcoming tour as Dio underwent his seventh round of chemotherapy. Initially, it seemed he would rally, but Sunday brought the following message from Dio's wife Wendy:
"Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever."
Heaven could not be reached for comment. On a personal note, Dio was mentioned in "Every Five Minutes," a tongue-in-cheek tribute to metalby Rocks Off's former band, Black Math Experiment, where we lamented that every five minutes Dio lost another inch of height. The song still brings a smile to Rocks Off's face as a good-hearted reminder of the epic days of metal's giants. But its ending reminds us that every five minutes the world gets smaller, and there is no doubt that the hole left by Ronnie James Dio has made the world a little less full of awesome indeed.