A "most beautiful memorial service" for legendary heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio (DIO, HEAVEN & HELL, BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW) was held on the fourth anniversary of his death — Friday, May 16 — at his gravesite at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills cemetery in Los Angeles. According to his wife and manager Wendy Dio, "It started with a harpist playing [the RAINBOW song] 'Sixteenth Century Greensleeves'. I then welcomed everyone (45 of Ronnie's close friends and bandmates) and read some prayers, a friend of ours read messages from Jeff Pilson [DIO, DOKKEN, FOREIGNER] and Phil [Campbell] from MOTÖRHEAD, who were unable to attend. Other friends of ours spoke about Ronnie and their memories of him. Vinny Appice [DIO, BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN & HELL], Craig Goldy [DIO] and Glenn Hughes [DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH] also remembered fond memories of Ronnie. Oni Logan [LYNCH MOB, DIO DISCIPLES] and Scott Warren [DIO, DIO DISCIPLES] performed 'This Is Your Life' and Glenn and Rowan Robertson [DIO] joined them on 'Hallelujah'. There were so many lovely flowers and tears and smiles flowed, with everyone telling Ronnie he would never be forgotten.
"As next year will be the fifth anniversary of Ronnie's passing, I thought I would like to include all of you that are able to come and have a public memorial service for Ronnie, so you can all tell him that he will always live in our hearts and never be forgotten.
"Thank you all for your continued support."
Dio was renowned throughout the world as one of the greatest and most influential vocalists in heavy metal history. The singer, who was recording and touring with SABBATH offshoot HEAVEN & HELL prior to his illness, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in late 2009. He underwent chemotherapy and made what is now his final public appearance in April 2010 at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in Los Angeles.
A free public memorial service was held on May 30, 2010 at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills cemetery in Los Angeles, attended by more than 1,500 fans, friends and fellow musicians.
In March 2011, it was announced that the surviving members of the final lineup of DIO would embark on a project with former JUDAS PRIEST frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens under the name DIO DISCIPLES.
Ronnie James Dio, real name Ronald James Padavona, was born in New Hampshire on July 10, 1942.
He moved to Cortland, New York at a young age, where he began playing with local acts. A street in Cortland, Dio Way, was named after him in 1988.
He released his first single, with a band called RONNIE AND THE REDCAPS, in 1959.
His first heavy rock act, ELF, released three albums and opened for DEEP PURPLE, where Dio's voice caught the ear of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. Blackmore recruited Dio for his own band, RAINBOW, after leaving PURPLE in 1975.
Dio recorded three studio albums and one live set with RAINBOW before exiting in 1978, including "Rising" and "Long Live Rock And Roll".
He replaced Ozzy Osbourne in BLACK SABBATH in 1980, recording the "Heaven And Hell" and "Mob Rules" albums, plus "Live Evil", before leaving in 1982. He rejoined the group 10 years later for an album called "Dehumanizer", and again teamed with the group under the HEAVEN & HELL banner in 2006. HEAVEN & HELL released an album called "The Devil You Know" in 2009.
He has also recorded 10 studio albums with his own band, DIO, including a classic 1983 debut, "Holy Diver", and an equally renowned follow-up, 1984's "The Last In Line".
Dio was also behind the HEAR N' AID project, a collection of metal artists who recorded the track "Stars" in 1985 to raise funds for African famine relief.
Rock and metal musicians around the world paid tribute to Dio in the weeks and months following his death. STONE SOUR and SLIPKNOT frontman Corey Taylor shared his feelings with The Pulse Of Radio about the fallen metal icon. "When I got that news that he had passed away, man, it seriously — it broke my heart. It broke it in two. Because honestly, I just feel like there will never be another Ronnie James Dio. He had such a pure voice — and still singing his ass off. I just know he'll be missed, and I will miss him as well."
Ex-VAN HALEN and current CHICKENFOOT bassist Michael Anthony also shared his memories of Dio with The Pulse Of Radio. "I don't know anybody that didn't grow up listening to his stuff," he said. "You know, VAN HALEN, we used to do from the first RAINBOW album, we did 'Man On The Silver Mountain'. I remember one time, the second VAN HALEN tour we were doing some festivals in Europe, and we actually played on the same show as Ronnie's band. Real powerful voice, you know, and definitely a driving force in hard rock music, that guy was."
Slash told The Pulse Of Radio that he felt the loss of Dio very keenly. "He's just somebody I was influenced by," he said. " I played all the RAINBOW stuff, I played the DIO stuff, the SABBATH stuff when I was in, you know, high school. I don't think that it's really set in what a, you know, huge figure in rock 'n' roll we lost, you know. Really major. Probably one of the most influential heavy metal singers of all time."
Pictured left to right: Oni Logan, Vinny Appice, Glenn Hughes, Lita Ford, Scott Warren and Rowan Robertson