Swedish keyboardist Jens Johansson (STRATOVARIUS, DIO, YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN) has released the following message regarding the passing of legendary heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio (DIO, HEAVEN & HELL, BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW):"I hesitated a bit to write something about this. In a way it feels weird to use this sad day to attract attention to myself. Then I realized I also feel a bit strange to not even comment in public. "I joined DIO-the-band for about a year in the early Nineties, that's how I got to know Ronnie. Him, and let's not forget Wendy [Ronnie's wife/manager], who is still very much alive. They were a team. "When they took me in to the DIO family, I felt a bit like a cold puppy coming in from the rain. I had previously just left Yngwie's band which was a really fun and creative situation, but it was at the same time also tremendously chaotic and stressful. "My time in DIO was simply one of the best times in my life. "Ronnie was one of the best people I ever met, very different from the usual musicians and other suspects in this wretched industry. I think this is something you will hear over and over — you have heard it before he was gone, and you will also keep hearing it after he is gone. Quite simply, because it's the truth. And especially towards fans. "If you didn't realize it by now, you can ask anyone who met him. Ronnie was the guy signing autographs in the cold rain after the point where any mere mortal would have crawled back into bed. It was insane. His dedication to the fans was not from this world. He is the guy that finally made it dawn on me who it is who actually pays the bills — it is the fans. (Well, at least he tried. If I didn't quite learn, that is my own fault.) "Well, it could be everyone knows all that already, so what else can I say that you don't already know or could find out from Wikipedia? "Since I was a Dio fan myself long long before I even met him, I think I have some perspective. "His voice was like a tank... I never heard him have a bad day. I have honestly never met anyone else like this in my whole life. Even if he stayed up all night drinking and talking, he would still deliver 150% the next day. "From his performing, you'd think he was 22 years old, his whole life... but if you look at how much he accomplished, you'd think he lived to the age of 120. "He was very funny. Fond of British humor, like Monty Python. "My best memories of the time with him are either him laughing at something I or someone else said, or me laughing at something he said, or any of the many running gags that he created. "His lyric-writing really has depths you don't immediately see when you read them first. Read them again and think. "He was very intelligent. He was, without a question, NOT some sort of devil worshipper or satanist. He grew up in a small town and was what I would call just a 'very decent person.' He had higher morals than most people I have met, and definitely he had higher morals than I have. He just didn't particularly believe in God of the Christian bible, I think. But he was really spiritual and thought about deep issues, a lot. "I never saw him do any hard drugs. He was, to me, the embodiment of the
idea: if you want to get anywhere, stay off the hard stuff. "There was the relentless charity work for 'Children of the Night.' But that you may have heard about already and can read more about on the Internet; just google for the phrase. "I realize this may sound like I'm trying to paint too soft a picture. I am really racking my brains here and I couldn't think of anything bad to say about him even if I tried. The only thing I can think of is that his character definitely had a surprising bite when something pissed him off; he didn't suffer fools lightly. If you were a fool in his path, and all options of patience, understabding and politeness had been exhausted, then he didn't hold back verbally... beware, fool, you might have two assholes all of a sudden, or your head might be rolling on the floor! I, of course, found this extremely amusing (unless it was me who was the unwitting fool, which I think happened, like, once). "I don't exaggerate when I say I feel him being gone is a loss for humanity, but I still try to look at the glass as half full. Imagine if he would have died at 27 like so many other geniuses. As a listener I'm thankful for that grace, and as a person I'm thankful I got to know him. "We will all die at some point; he never beat around the bush when speaking or writing about death. "Cancer sucks, and I don't know what I think would suck more, him gone today, or him alive for another year but in severe pain. I'm also not sure if Ronnie would have wanted us to be too sad. (Of course, a bit sad! I'm not suggesting we go dancing in the streets with joy screaming 'lolololololololo' like those crazy Palestinians after 9/11 here.) "He dedicated so much of his own life to bring happiness to other people. "Let's mourn a genius and a great guy who is lost to us now. But let's mourn in a way that he constantly wrote about, by deciding that we should live each day, including this one, to its fullest, even if it is a sad day. "You don't know if this day is your last day, and if it is you don't know what will follow. "The music he made will remain after me, or anyone reading this, will be gone. So unless you did already, put some of it on. If it puts an evil smile on your face, then your day is better. That's all any musician can ask from you."