Top 10 Ronnie James Dio Songs
As this list of Ronnie James Dio songs demonstrates, there’s no way to overstate the impact the signer had on hard rock and heavy metal. But we’ll be damned if we won’t try to anyway, one more time. From his blue-collar efforts behind countless, mostly forgotten rock and doo wop vocal groups during the late ’50s and ’60s, through his decades as one of metal’s preeminent vocalists, bestride, Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio, and Heaven and Hell, Ronnie’s resume simply stands second to none. And because his one-of-a-kind voice always remained instantly recognizable throughout, it’s with great excitement and respect that we compile the Top 10 Ronnie James Dio Songs.
‘The Bible Black’
The final recordings of Ronnie James Dio’s life, for Heaven and Hell’s ‘The Devil You Know’ album yielded numerous highlights, but arguably none as memorable as the ominous ‘The Bible Black,’ which proved the great singer’s vast vocal and emotional powers had lost nothing to time’s inexorable march. (Also, can we all just admit this is a Black Sabbath album now?)
‘Falling off the Edge of the World’
This oft-overlooked colossus from the second half of Black Sabbath’s ‘Mob Rules’ simply can’t be overlooked by our list of the Top 10 Ronnie James Dio Songs, as it sees the singer’s unique gifts for spinning fantastical yarns — filled with kings and queens and dragons too — at their most colorful and evocative.
‘The Last in Line’
On the flip side, Ronnie could just as easily bring his imaginative metaphors down to earthly reality, when he so wished; and you won’t find too many songs (lest thou look fuether down this list, anyway) that struck at the heart of outcast heavy meal fans everywhere as directly as the title track from Dio’s sophomore opus.
‘The Sign of the Southern Cross’
This majestic centerpiece of the ‘Mob Rules’ LP may boast some of the drop-dead-heaviest riffs of Tony Iommi‘s- – or any other guitarist’s — career, but listen closely and you’ll have to admit the song’s power owes just as much, if not more, to Dio’s beautifully histrionic performance, filled with dramatic readings of his sinister rhymes.
This barnstorming opener from Sabbath’s ‘Heaven and Hell,’ on the other hand, gave little thought to subtlety or restraint, as the recently retooled band gave notice of their awesome rebirth behind a wild-eyed Dio operating in full, demonic dervish mode: roaring, snarling and spitting the song’s heroic lyrics as though his life (and certainly his ever-blossoming career) depended on it.
‘Man on the Silver Mountain’
The next song in our list of the Top 10 Ronnie James Dio Songs helped define the singer’s iconography as a mythical messenger, perched high above the world he so eloquently observed in song — even though Ronnie was ostensibly playing second fiddle to one of rock’s greatest, er, “fiddlers” in Ritchie Blackmore‘s Rainbow. No matter: Dio clearly got the most mileage out of the song — and the last laugh, since Blackmore never laughs.
The title track from Dio’s first album enjoyed only modest success as a single when first released (maybe the lyrics were too oblique?), but, in time, has become one of the signature tunes most associated with the singer, as evidenced by high profile tributes by fans from self-professed fans such as Tenacious D, metalcore stars Killswitch Engage and the team behind ‘South Park.’
‘Heaven and Hell’
Meanwhile, the title track from Dio’s first LP fronting Black Sabbath boasts some of his most recognizable, universal and oft-quoted lyrics, as he waxes poetic about the ultimate question of good and evil, dark and light, ‘Heaven and Hell.’ And lets not overlook the historic contributions of his bandmates either, which helped make this one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time, bar none.
Building dramatically on the musical grandeur and “castle metal” imagery imparted by ‘Man on the Silver Mountain,’ the following year’s epochal ‘Stargazer’ became the piece de resistance of the magnificent ‘Rainbow Rising.’ Needless to say, the epic song about a wizard reaching ever higher, daring even to touch a star could represent Ronnie’s own unquenchable fire to entertain, and remained a show-stopping highlight of the man’s non-Sabbath tours forever after.
‘Rainbow in the Dark’
We know, either one of the last two songs tallied for this list of the Top 10 Ronnie James Dio is well deserving of the No. 1 spot; but we felt it more appropriate to supersede them with this equally worthy track from the singer’s very own band, where it was undoubtedly he, not guys named Iommi, Butler or Blackmore, piloting the ship. Simply put, we don’t think any another song embodies the very essence of Ronnie James Dio more clearly and unequivocally than ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ — a title that likewise reflects the role his music will continue to play in the lives of all those it touched. RIP, RJD.