|Heavy metal legend Ronnie James Dio died early Sunday after a battle with stomach cancer. He was 67.
Dio's wife, Wendy, broke the news today on Ronnie's official website.
"Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May," she wrote. "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."
Dio's cancer was first announced last November. He was expected to take part in this summer's Heaven & Hell tour, which was subsequently canceled in May due to his health.
After stints with bands like Elf (formerly the Electric Elves), Dio was recruited by Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore to form Rainbow in 1975. Dio left the band in 1979 and quickly joined Black Sabbath as a replacement for Ozzy Ozbourne. Dio's first album with Black Sabbath was the iconic 'Heaven & Hell,' released in 1980.
Dio, who is often credited for creating the devil horns hand gesture, recorded two additional albums with Black Sabbath -- 'Mob Rules' and 'Live Evil' -- before leaving in 1982 over reported sound mixing issues on 'Live Evil.' He went on to lead his next band, Dio, shortly thereafter, where he was joined by Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice.
Dio would later reunite with Black Sabbath on 1992's 'Dehumanizer.'
Dio released 10 albums under his namesake band, including 'Holy Diver,' and remained with the band throughout, despite numerous departures and changes.
In 2006, he formed the band Heaven & Hell with Appice and Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. Together, they released one studio album -- 2009's 'The Devil You Know -- as well as a live CD.
At a Los Angeles event in April, Dio gave Artisan News an update on his battle with cancer, saying, "If you're determined to beat it, then you have to go with what you believe is going to beat it for you."
Born Ronald James Padavona in Portsmouth, New Hampshrie, Dio released his first record in 1958 with Ronnie & the Redcaps. He was married twice -- first, to Loretta Berardi, with whom he adopted a son, Dan.
Dio's stage name was reportedly inspired by New York mafia member Johnny Dio.
I would just like to take a second to say RIP to Ronnie James Dio... The inspiration behind the corna (devil horns), Ozzy's replacement in the legendary Sabbath, the frontman of Dio, and many other bands...
While I moved on from his music years ago (moving from heavy metal onto death metal, black metal, and thrash metal), I still always loved to hear his voice.
His voice was amazing as was his contributions to heavy music. Out of the hundreds of shows I've gone to (I go to at least one metal show a month), I actually never did see Dio. I had plenty of chances, but I always figured there would be another chance. There was always another, younger and more death/black band, that I would see instead. I was planning on seeing him as soon as possible... the next time he came around. Yet now, just like Pantera, this is one band/person I will never see.
He was taken too early from us. He had a long and hard fight with cancer that we all hoped he would overcome.
So to anyone who has been inspired by him, join me in saying "RIP."