British heavy metal veterans IRON MAIDEN have released the following statement regarding the passing of legendary heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio (DIO, HEAVEN & HELL, BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW):"It is with huge sadness we hear that Ronnie has lost his battle against stomach cancer, and our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Wendy and family at this terrible time. "From his earlier years in ELF, BLACK SABBATH and DIO, right through to his most recent days fronting HEAVEN & HELL, Ronnie, time and again, proved his genius as a frontman, always giving his all to his fans and his music. "Ronnie was not only an incredibly gifted singer but also a wonderfully warm, intelligent and generous person and this shone through both on and off stage leaving a positive mark on everyone he came into contact with. A longstanding friend of MAIDEN, we played many shows together over the years and we will all miss him greatly. "The world has lost an irreplaceable talent and, first and foremost, one of the finest human beings you could ever wish to meet."