My Life with Ronnie James Dio

Posted by Charles Reece, May 16, 2010 11:45pm | Post a Comment

My first experience with Ronnie James Dio was when my mom took me to see Heavy Metal. "Mob Rules" plays while an evil horde kills the pneumatic heroine's people. After acquiring a magic sword, she dons a chainmail bikini and, sitting astride a flying dragon, exacts her revenge. Justify that with some philosophy, and you pretty much have my taste in cinema today. I got a walkman for the following Christmas with what was my first album, Prince's 1999. But the first cassette I bought myself was the Heavy Metal soundtrack. Like many budding metalheads of the time, the soundtrack proved a huge disappointment, as there wasn't anything else on it like the Sabbath song. That didn't matter much, though, since it was strong enough to determine my musical preferences for the next 5 or so years. This was back in the good ol' days when genres meant something, were ideologically pure. Punks hated metalheads, and vice versa, but neither was hated as much as the accursed New Wave kids. I was never very good at being a purist: I hated solos even back then and spent a lot of time privately listening to oldies on the radio. However, I wouldn't publicly break rank -- like Maoism, metal gave me a sense of belonging to a greater good. Hell if I'd ever show weakness in front of my enemies. 

I was a committed comrade the first time I saw Dio play on November 17, 1985, at Dallas' Reunion Arena during his Sacred Heart tour. Rough Cutt opened, but I don't remember anything about them. In fact, I don't remember much about this show except my buddy Mitch and I had balcony seats and were determined to get to the floor, where we wouldn't be able to see anything. Watching from the rafters just never had the same appeal as being part of the big, sweaty, headbanging collective by the stage. So, as Dio began "Rainbow in the Dark" for the encore, we dropped about 12 feet and made a dash to the front where we banged out the rest of the show. Hardly the October Revolution, but what do you expect from the Reagan-era suburban youth? At least I wasn't listening to Minor Threat.

The next time I saw Dio was on his Dream Evil tour. This was February 2nd, 1988, and once again at Reunion Arena. By then, thrash had made his style seem passé. The generic divisions were no longer so clear or socially meaningful. It was around then, when walking downtown, a skinhead approached me to tell me how much he liked my Motörhead t-shirt -- truly the beginning of the end. And, truthfully, I only went to the show to see Megadeth, but did get to witness Dio using a broadsword almost as tall as he to slay a dragon shooting lasers from its eyes (Dallas laws prohibited pyrotechnics). Shortly thereafter, I discovered The Velvet Underground and Zappa, effectively ending my metal days.

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Reasons I Dig Ronnie James Dio...

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 16, 2010 07:10pm | Post a Comment
Ronnie James Dio Death

The fact that a singer could get someone like me, who hates the whole Dungeons & Dragons/Lord Of The Rings culture, so pumped up with lyrics like “Circles and rings, Dragons and kings, Weaving a shock and a spell...”

Sure, there were other Metal vocalists who had powerful voices, but they were either too shrill (Bruce Dickinson) or way too operatic (Rob Halford) for my taste. Dio’s voice had the power of an opera singer but with a style that you would find in soul & rockabilly singers. It’s no surprise to me that his first releases were soul singles as Ronnie Dio & The Prophets back in the early sixties.

Ronnie Dio & The Prophets- "Everybody's Got A Dance"

Dio’s music got me through some very long drives across the U.S. and Mexico. I played his solo albums and his albums with Black Sabbath (Heaven & Hell and Mob Rules) and Rainbow (Rising and Long Live Rock & Roll). Dio turned out to be the ultimate co-pilot; he never fell asleep, never let me down and occasionally yelled, "Look out!"

Dio was always the source of late night drunken arguments with my friends about who was better: Ozzy-Era Sabbath or Dio-Era Sabbath? Yes, Dio was a better singer. The band played better with him and Dio wrote his own lyrics (Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler wrote most the lyrics of the songs from the classic Ozzy-Era). Yet, it was always a losing battle for anyone on Dio's side. Why? Because HE'S freakin' Ozzy Osbourne! Everyone loves him, faults and all. That's why there was a television show called The Osbournes and not "The Dios!" Sorry, Ronnie.

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Unitarded: 20 Questions with the multi-talented Borts Minorts...

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 30, 2008 01:55pm | Post a Comment
Borts Minorts relaxes with the classics
A few years back I went to my first Borts Minorts show in San Francisco. I'm still not sure how to describe what I saw, how it happened or why I'll never forget it; It was, plainly speaking, singularly awesome, like nothing I had seen before! I laughed, I danced, I marveled -- I had an amazing time. Since that initial exposure I have come to hold Borts Minorts in high esteem as an artist, musician and uber-performer. He seems fearless, knows no limits and appears physically capable of accomplishing any feat no matter how extraordinary the act. In short: there is no telling what his next move will be, ever. It's not for nothing that he's been nominated twice for SF Weekly's Best Experimental Music award. One thing I know for sure is that anyone who can get their butt out to the Hemlock Tavern this Wednesday night, -- that's right, New Year's Eve -- will be in for a rare (Borts, alas, has relocated to New York) treat, as Borts Minorts will be showing you how he likes to party, performing live on the last and first night(s) of the year(s). I am so pleased he agreed to play 20 Questions with me:

1. How old is Borts Minorts?  It is thought that I am now 38,000 years old.

Leigh Bowery 2. Where does Borts come from? Borts Minorts comes from the past and future simultaniously and only actually exists in this world when on stage.

3. What are your musical/artistic influences? The artistic collaboration of Michael Clark, Leigh Bowery and the Fall would possibly be my biggest influence. The movie Legend of Leigh Bowery changed my life artistically. Leigh Bowery was an incredible artist. Also, when I was a kid I saw Klaus Nomi on SNL and it scared the shit out of me. That always really stuck with me. Then when I saw Nomi Song and saw what he did on stage in the early days it REALLY inspired me to cBorts Minorts performing livereate something new and different.

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