"I insist upon being great. You don’t always reach that pinnacle, but I insist upon it": The A-Z of Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio studio portrait
(Image credit: Kevin Estrada / Media Punch via Alamy)

The late Ronnie James Dio may have been small in stature, but the man who fronted Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio was one of rock’s giants. In 2004 Ronnie the rainbow chaser proved he was also a man of letters, as he sat down with Classic Rock to guide us through a revealing A to Z.



A Is for adverts. Although not a regular on TV screens in the UK, over the years Ronnie James Dio has appeared in two beer adverts in the US. Which is quite apt, considering we’re talking while sitting in the pub over the road from his hotel. 

“Are you saying something about my alcoholism?” he laughs – a word that, coincidentally, also begins with the letter ‘a’. “At the moment they’re using Man On The Silver Mountain [which Ronnie sang with both Rainbow and Dio] for Coors beer. I always thought that was perfect, because the Coors logo features this big silver mountain. And in the eighties we did one for Budweiser using [the Dio track] Rainbow In The Dark. I want to do an advertisement for Young’s beer next: die Young. Ha-ha-ha!” 

A is also for arse – Ronnie once used the word to this writer to describe Dio’s 1996 album Angry Machines, regarded by most, including Ron himself, as the nadir of his career. 

“Yeah, I do agree with that,” he shrugs. “But that’s only because I’m comparing it to the other really good things that we did. It was a real confusing piece of garbage for me. I had no idea what was going on. It wasn’t the kind of music I wanted to make. I just wanted to put a final stamp on what I thought was wrong for us to do. It was crap.”


B Is for Black Sabbath, obviously. And after all the bitter recriminations that have existed between Ronnie and the band he fronted from 1980’s Heaven & Hell album until the Dehumanizer tour ended in tears (see C for Costa Mesa), he has recently intimated that he would be prepared to work with Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi again. 

“I doubt very much that’s likely to happen,” he sniffs. “I think what happened was that Tony finally came out of the closet and said: ‘Oh yeah, there was this guy called Ronnie-something-or-other in the band. I think he was quite good.’ And people assumed it was going to be a reunion. I think Tony’s doing another one of his solo projects and he probably needs someone to help him out. But I don’t do those; I don’t do guest spots on anyone’s albums. 

“But I enjoyed working with Tony so much. He’s a great talent. He was the only one in that band I would ever consider doing anything with again. But he and the rest of the band have done a pretty damn good job of making the rest of the world forget I was ever in that situation, and that’s a pretty damn hard thing to forgive. It’s just as well I’m a forgiving person.” 

B Is also for Ritchie Blackmore, the enigmatic Deep Purple and Rainbow guitarist who gave Ronnie Dio a major step up to success. 

“I’ve always attributed my opportunity for success to Ritchie,” he acknowledges. “He’ll always be the greatest guitar player I’ve ever worked with. The man’s a genius. I never have anything bad to say about Ritchie. He’s been so pivotal in my career, and I’ve learned so many things, both good and bad, from Ritchie. I’m just sad that he doesn’t play rock any more. I’m sure he will, though.” 

B is also for Bobby Comstock & The Counts, on whose 1963 single Run My Heart a young Ron sang backing vocals. 

“Ah, Bobby. He was my first rock hero. It was so long ago, I don’t remember what I sang on. It was more rockabilly rock’n’roll; more Eddie Cochran kind of stuff. He was a master at it, he was rock’n’roll. He was the shit. He was one of the original wild men of rock’n’roll. I love them to this day.”

The final B is for blouse, which refers to Ronnie’s distinctive stagewear.

“I wear it because I’m comfortable with it. I have it made for me by one person. Whenever I’ve tried to change it and do something different, I feel like a prat. I wear it for a couple of reasons: one, because they feel comfortable and make me feel good; and two, because it’s recognisable. It’s my little medieval thing, I guess.”


C Is for original Dio guitarist Vivian Campbell, who recently called Ronnie one of the most odious people he’d ever come across within the music business. 

“The strange part is that ‘odious’ has something to do with smell,” Ronnie laughs. “And let me go on record as saying there’s a man who smells like chicken soup. I’ve smelled better Spaniards at gigs in Pamplona than that man. I just want to clear that one up for you. Other than that, I always take the high road. 

“I have no idea why he said that, though. I always thought I did a lot for him, to give him an opportunity to be where he is. Now they know who he is because he continually takes those big Irish feet of his and sticks them in his mouth. That’s stupid. Still, he’s been gone long enough. I don’t even remember what he looks like.” 

C is also for Costa Mesa, the site of the infamous show where the once-again Dio-fronted Sabbath were expected to support Ozzy Osbourne. Needless to say, Dio refused to appear. Rob Halford stood in and fronted Sabbath for the show. 

“There was a purpose [for the show], and that was to announce a reunion with Ozzy. I knew it was going to happen,” he snorts, the experience clearly still rankling. “And after all the bad things he’d said about me and the other guys in the band, I said I wasn’t going to open up for a guy who’s said bad things about all of us. I refused to do it. I got back in the band for Dehumanizer so we could succeed as what we were. 

“We didn’t need to do it. I told them two months before the show I wouldn’t do it. Not a word until two weeks before the show, and they ask me if I’m going to do the shows. No. So they got someone else in. And re-formed with Ozzy. 

“If there are fans who are upset at that, then I apologise to them. But I am not going to apologise for doing something that was right. At the end of the day I’ve got to live with myself. But I don’t have to defend what they do, and they don’t have to defend what I do, and I’m fine with that. I remember the great things we did.” 

C is also for charity. Ron was the leading light behind the 1986 Hear ’N Aid project to raise money for the Ethiopian famine disaster. He’s still heavily involved in charity work, and there are rumours that a Hear ’N Aid II may be on the cards. But old rumours concerning the fact that major stars stayed away from the original project have never really gone away. 

Jimmy Page was supposed to do it,” Ron admits. “It was around the time of Live Aid, and Jimmy was playing in Philadelphia with Zeppelin. We had an amp and everything set up in the studio, and got a phone call at the last moment saying Jimmy couldn’t do it. Okay, it was Jimmy Page, he can say whatever he wants. I have no problem with that. It would have helped the project and put food on a plate somewhere, that was the only disappointing thing. The people involved in no way had an ego, though. Everybody had such a good time, especially the guys from Spinal Tap. And Rob Halford was great. 

“The new project is not Hear ’N Aid part two. It’s like that project in as much as it’s one big song, with guitar players and singers on that song, it’s the same format, but for a different charity. It’s for Children Of The Night, for runaway children, which I’ve been involved with in LA for ten years.” 

Ron’s final C is for curry. From his days living in the midlands during his time with Black Sabbath, Ronnie has been a fan of Britain’s adopted national cuisine.

“Yup, absolutely, man. Whenever I can. We went to the Curry Mile in Manchester as soon as we got there. We’ve got some good curry places in America, too. Tony and I were notorious for seeing how hot we could get it. And our rooms always seemed to back on to one another’s. All night you’d hear [makes bowel rumbling sounds]. In the end we got to the point where one day we said: ‘Can we just get a milder one?’”


D is firstly for Denzil The Dragon, a major mechanised stage-prop feature in the original Dio show. Denzil is also an object of much amusement for the British press. 

“His name was actually Dean. The English gave him the name Denzil. I have no idea why.” 

D is also for Deep Purple, a band who have in one way or another given Ronnie Dio a career leg up over the years. 

“It was more Roger Glover than anyone else,” Ron points out. “He and [Purple drummer] Ian Paice produced our first Elf (see below) album. Roger produced the next two. And he played the first album to the guys in Purple, and they liked it, and we ended up doing those world tours with them and got to know everyone so well and became part of the Purple family. They’re all my heroes, the band I love the most. And I got to work with my guitar hero as well, which was really cool.” 

D is also for drugs. They’ve blighted the career of many a rock star, but drugs have rarely played a part in the Dio story. 

“I’m a light drug user,” he smiles. “Of course I’ve smoked drugs in my day – never inhaled, of course! I come from upstate New York, which is the pot capital of the world. But no, I’ve seen too many people fall by the wayside, and I didn’t want one of those to be me. No, I’ve never been a drug user.”


E is for Elf, the first major rock band that Ronnie James Dio became involved with. They were aptly named, too. 

“Well, we were all pretty small,” he laughs. “We were originally The Electric Elves, and then became Elf. Which was cool until we did a tour with Purple and ELO. When we first went to Europe, in Germany, we’re travelling down the road and seeing these signs with ‘Elf’ on them, and thinking they know who we are. Of course, it was the petrol station!” 

E is also for ego. It has been intimated by others that Ron’s ego was out of proportion to his height. Which elicits the short, sharp response: “That’s crap!”


F is for father. Ronnie’s father played a major role in his choice of career. 

“He forced me to play the trumpet at five years old. I wanted to be a baseball player, and he made me play that fucking thing. He felt that I should have some form of education other than reading, writing and arithmetic. And he obviously did a good job of it. 

“I thank him all these years later. My mom and dad have always been the most supportive people on earth – as long as I got them a degree, which I did – and they’ve always been very proud of me.”

F is also for Dave ‘Rock’ Feinstein, Ronnie’s cousin who is best-known in Britain for fronting 80s metal band The Rods. 

“He has a new band, called Feinstein,” Ronnie responds. “He’s my cousin, and was part of Elf, and then had his own band called The Rods. He was on the bill at this year’s Wacken Festival, so I saw him there.”


G is undoubtedly for God – the Italian word for God is Dio. 

“It’s nothing to do with me,” he laughs. “Most people know it’s not my real name anyway. But Dio was short and to the point. And it was from someone who I really liked: Johnny Dio, a mafia boss. So I became Ronnie Dio. Ritchie one day asked me what my middle name was, and I said James. He asked if I’d ever considered using it. And off we went.” 

G is also for Guinness, a beverage Ronnie has been known to like the odd pint of. 

“I prefer real ales now,” he says. “I had a Guinness moment. Once you’ve been to Dublin and had a proper pint of Guinness, you realise everything else travels badly and tastes like crap. We leave Guinness to Simon [Wright, Dio drummer]. He’s our Guinness aficionado.” 

Another G is guitarists. Ronnie has worked with some of the finest in the rock world. 

“I’ve been very, very lucky,” he says. “‘Rock’ was a great guitar player in Elf, he was right for the band. Ritchie [Blackmore] was the ultimate for me. Tony [Iommi] was a close second. But you can’t compare the two. Vivian [Campbell] was a great, great guitar player. Brilliant. Craig [Goldy] has been back in the band three times, and at this point is the most quintessential metal guitarist for us. Doug [Aldrich] was a great player too, but he’s more bluesy; I think he’s in the right place with David [Coverdale] in Whitesnake. Tracey Gee was just a real noisy player, but I loved his sound, and he reminded me more of Tony.”


H is for Heaven & Hell, Black Sabbath’s 1980 album recorded with Ronnie. Although often overlooked these days in favour of Sabbath’s equally good albums with Ozzy, it is arguably the finest Sabbath album, and certainly saved the career of that band. Its title also sums up Ronnie’s career in Sabbath. 

“It’ll probably always be my favourite album – my favourite to make, and certainly one of the most successful I’ve been involved with. And it does describe my time involved with that band; it was pretty equal portions of heaven and hell,” he laughs.” 

H is also for The Harry James Band. 

“When my dad told me to choose an instrument, I wanted to go and play baseball. The first thing that came on the radio was the Harry James Band, so I said: ‘That one.’ And instead of letting me go out to play, he dragged me down to the music store and bought me a trumpet. And life changed for me.” 

The final H is house. Ronnie’s Los Angeles home reflects his passion for all things medieval.

“I wouldn’t live there unless it was the place that makes me feel as comfortable as the stage gear makes me feel on stage,” he says. “It’s an imposing place – or I guess it could be thought of, in medieval terms. But it’s not, it’s a very warm house with a lot of warmth and wood in it. And it evokes memories of what I’m about.”


I is for ‘Ickle Ron’. In the past Ronnie has been a tad sensitive about the deliberate baiting by the UK press about his height; or rather lack of it. 

“It used to bother me. I don’t care any more,” he snorts. “I’ve got too thick-skinned about it now. If that’s all you’ve got to talk about, then obviously you’re not very good at your job.” 

I is also for ill-fated – perhaps a good term to describe Ronnie’s reunion with Black Sabbath in 1992 to record their Dehumanizer album. 

“Well, leopards don’t ever change their spots. That’s what happened with that one,” he offers. “When we had no success, before Heaven & Hell, life was wonderful. We were all sharing our attempts to be successful. With Dehumanizer, people had carried on and had had some successful careers: Geezer had played with Ozzy, Tony had had his solo career which had done okay; he wasn’t starving and he was happy. 

“We got back together, and we didn’t have that thing of having to achieve a level of success, and the same things raised their ugly heads again – egos and things – and it just went to the same position that made me say, first time around, I’d never do it again. So never, never again.”


I s for Jimmy Bain, the bassist who played alongside Ronnie for many years in both Rainbow and Dio. Amid constant rumours concerning Bain’s indulgence, he has recently been replaced in Dio by one-time Whitesnake man Rudy Sarzo. 

“Sad, sad story,” Ronnie sighs. “He’s been my friend for so long. Jimmy has just indulged in too many of the wrong things in life, and it just dissuades his judgement. You would have to ask him why he’s not here and you are. Only he knows that, and I think it should come from Jimmy. I don’t want to speculate on what his problems are, but it’s a real shame. He’s really a lovely, lovely man.”


K is for Al Kooper, legendary musician and record producer. Some people may be surprised by the fact that Ronnie was on the verge of forming an R&B band with Kooper, prior to getting a phone call from Black Sabbath. 

“It was Al, Jeff Baxter [Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers], Richie Hayward from Little Feat and myself,” Ron reveals. “It was very rhythm and blues, but I didn’t have any options at that time; I had another band I was trying to put together. And then the Sabbath proposition came along. And that was so much more. I got Glenn Hughes to take my place with Al Kooper.” 

K is also for Kansas – Ron sang on Kansas guitarist Kerry Livgren’s 1980 solo album Seeds Of Change

“Kerry was one of the great evil people on the face of the planet before he became a born-again Christian,” Ronnie says flatly. “He was so into the occult and the Book Of The Dead. And he had a revelation one night: lightning came through his window when he was on the phone to his wife, and lightning came through her window at the same time. And they both became born-again Christians. 

“He’d seen me perform with Elf, and called me and asked me to sing on the album. He never told me he was a born-again Christian. And if you look at the sleeve, everyone’s listed as to what band they were in – except me, who was in Black Sabbath.”


L is for Live Evil, Black Sabbath’s 1982 live album that marked the end of Ron’s first tenure with the band, his departure brought about by recriminations over the mixing of the record. 

“You ain’t wrong,” he smiles. “That was really the point where we’d had the success and there were too many whispers going on. So it all went back to front. I got a call one night from Geezer saying: ‘This doesn’t seem to be working. We’ll just let Tony [Iommi] produce it.’  I was more than happy to be out of that situation. It was hurtful and spiteful.” 

L is also for lyrics – Ronnie is well-known for the fantastical nature of his. 

“It came as a kid, spending a lot of time with myself, reading a lot of science fiction – things that made my imagination work. 

“I decided that if I was going to be successful, I had to be unique. One way of being unique was to write in a vein that no one had attacked in the way that I did. That and a love of opera as well. I took both of those things and tried to put it in my musical genre. I think that making people use their imaginations is an important thing to do. I’d rather be a teacher than anything else. If you ask ten people their opinion of the song Rainbow In The Dark, you’ll get ten different answers, and each one will be correct. Everyone will have made their own judgement of the song.


M is for Mistreated. It’s from Deep Purple’s Burn album, but it became a staple of Rainbow’s set when Ronnie was in that band, and even Dio have performed it in recent years. 

“Ritchie asked me if I’d mind doing the song,” he says. “He never insisted that I do it. I loved the song, absolutely. So we did it, and it almost became as much my song, for a while, as David’s [Coverdale]. I enjoyed doing it, and we’ve revisited that song with Dio as well – and taken some stick for it. I can’t win, everything I do is wrong.” 

M is also for maloik, the real name given to Ronnie’s famous hand sign – recently voted No.3 in VH1’s 100 Most Metal Moments. 

“I got that from my grandmother,” he admits. “She tried to protect me from all these people trying to give me – obviously only me – the evil eye. That’s what she did. And it became this sign that was easy to do. Ozzy was doing peace signs, and I wasn’t going to do that. I even saw it on a Rainbow video a while ago, so I was doing it then too, not just in Sabbath. But I did it so much it did become synonymous with me. Gene Simmons always claims he invented it. Well he must have lived a lot longer than my grandmother, then.”

Ronie James Dio onstage throwing the horns

(Image credit: WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)


N is for new label; at least in the US, where Dio the band have signed to the ever-expanding Sanctuary. 

“We’re still with SPV here in Europe but we’re signed with Sanctuary in the States. I just felt we were promised so many things that weren’t delivered, and it came to the time when we had a choice. And it was time to move on. Especially with a line-up like this, that I believe in, and an album like this, it needed some preferential treatment. New situations always breed more success. It’s always happened like that with me.”


O Is for The Osbournes. How does Ron feel about his arch-nemesis and said nemesis’s wife Sharon being on the world’s television screens? 

“My only feeling about that is that I’d have preferred Ozzy to be remembered for being one of the creators of heavy metal music, as opposed to someone they drag around to make a lot of money from and make look more foolish. That hurts me, it really does. Even though there have been enough things said about how he hates me, which isn’t true at all.” 

O is also for the occult, never far away from the imagery Ronnie and Dio have used throughout the years. Is he truly a master of the dark arts, or is it just a marketing gimmick to help sell records? 

“I don’t go to Marilyn Manson/Blackie Lawless extremes,” he argues. “I understand what it’s about, I understand its dangers and its positive side as well. Witchcraft is not evil, it’s a religion. White witches are not evil people. I don’t use it as a tool to try and sell product. I did it because I did a lot of séances, especially in Rainbow, got scared, and wanted to find out about it. I never used it as a tool, not even with the album covers. [The Dio album cover] Holy Diver looks like a monster drowning a priest, but how do you know it’s not a priest drowning a monster?”


P is for Padovana, Ronnie’s real surname. 

“That’s me – family name. It means one who comes from the city of Padova [in northern Italy]. When my dad first came to America, to Ellis Island where they processed immigrants, the Irishmen there didn’t hear him properly. And it became a bastardised form.” 

P is also for Cozy Powell, the now-deceased drummer who worked with Ronnie in both Rainbow and, for a short while, Black Sabbath. Until a horse fell on him. Then in came Vinnie Appice. Again. 

“I’ve heard these wonderful rumours about how much Cozy Powell hated me. I can only say that I certainly never hated him. He was one of the most individualistic people I’d ever met. And you can’t compare anyone to Cozy as a drummer. We try to keep his memory alive to the point where Simon [Wright] plays the 1812 Overture as his solo.”


Q is for quality – something Ronnie Dio always tries his utmost to produce. 

“I insist upon being great,” he says with pride. “You don’t always reach that pinnacle, but I insist upon it. Every time somebody comes to see Ronnie Dio, who has insisted all these times on being great, I can’t let them down – or I’ve failed. 

“And I’ve never had to physically cancel a gig in my life, it’s always been because the place was too small or because something went wrong, but nothing physical. I’ve sung through flu and colds, which is the bane of a singer. I’ve always been able to do it to a level where people don’t know it, but I do, and that really bothers me. So if you see me upset on stage, it’s nothing to do with the band, it’s always me – that I’m not good that night. And that destroys me.”


R has to be for rainbows, be it a band name, lyrics, or the massive neon one that traversed the Rainbow stage. Whatever happened to that, by the way? 

“They’ve always been special to me,” he replies. “Rainbow In The Dark, the band Rainbow and all the mentions in songs – for which I’ve always been castigated! It was so important for me to be in the band Rainbow. And then I started to look at rainbows as being this wonderful natural phenomenon that speaks volumes about how insignificant we really are. They’ve been a great part of my life. 

“I have no idea what ever happened to the old stage prop. I heard it got tipped into the ocean coming back from Japan. But knowing management as I do there’s no way they’d lose that amount of steel. It’s probably been melted down and made into Michael Jackson.” 

R is also for revolving door. There have always been various members coming and going in the bands Ron has been in.

“I don’t know if it’s helped my career but it’s certainly affected it,” he says. “They all haven’t been gold. Some have been pewter and some have been pig iron, and some have been platinum. It just depends on other people. People come back because they want to, that’s the important reason. I don’t want people who don’t want to play in the band and don’t want to work their arses off. That’s just a reflection of my life, just the way it is.”


S is for sport. Junior Ron was an keen sportsman. 

“Athletics is very important to me,” he says. “I’d equate myself with a boxer more than with anyone else. Boxers have to have so much more desire to train for a year, always have to be fed proper food and abstain from everything. Just imagine the desire and need to be good they go through to do that. So I’ve always equated being a musician with being a boxer, because you have to give up everything to be good.”

S is also for Claude Schnell (“Bless you,” Ronnie’s tour manager responds), the heavily moustachioed keyboard player in Dio. And an object of kind-hearted amusement for the UK rock press. 

“Claude’s still around. I still speak to Claude,” Ron says. “That man’s a brilliant pianist, he can really play. He’s a bit like Jon Lord in that respect. He hasn’t really done anything for a while. He’s been threatening to, but he seems to keep on wanting to write Man On The Silver Mountain again. He’s now involved in some film work. That’s a real hard thing to break into. I hope it happens for him. A lovely guy.”


T is for thumb. One of Ron’s was infamously hacked off in a bizarre gardening accident (stop sniggering). 

“Attacked by a garden gnome. Perfect, right?” he laughs, revealing the mangled digit. “There it is. That’s where it came off, right around there. I was in my yard trying to place this garden gnome on a slope . But it got dislodged and came sliding down the hill after me, and when I grabbed on to something to protect me this gnome, which weighed a hundred pounds, landed right on top of the thumb. 

"I went to hospital and they’re like: ‘I think we can save this.’ Because my concern was it was going to look awfully funny doing the maloik with no thumb. But after I saw it come off my first thought was: ‘Oh-oh.’ Then it was ‘How am I going to deal with my life without my thumb?’” 

T is also for Tenacious D, who paid homage to Ron with the song Dio

“Jack Black is one of the coolest people on the planet,” Ron enthuses. “I love Jack. I was originally told that there was this song out about Ronnie sucking and why don’t I retire. I listened to it and thought it was brilliant. All they were saying was: ‘We love what you do, and pass the torch to us and we’ll carry it on.’ 

“I was lucky enough to have Jack and Kyle [Gass, the other member of Tenacious D] in a video for us, Push, and got to know Jack as a friend. He came to our last show at The Greek theatre with the Scorpions and Purple. I was a real celebrity that day – I could go up to Ian Gillan and go: ‘A mate of mine, Jack Black…’”


U is for the US national anthem, which Ronnie famously performed for Dog Eat Dog on their song Games from their 1996 album Play Games. 

“That’s what they asked for, and that’s what they got,” he states. 

U is also for the UK, a country Ronnie Dio has a genuine fondness for; he even lived here for a time. 

“Yes, for years,” he agrees. “Most of the guitar players I’ve played for have been English, and I’ve played in English bands for so long I became acclimatised to it all. I try not to have too many affectations, like a British accent, but I’ve been treated like one of their own by this country. They know I have the same sense of humour, and I understand what goes on and most people don’t. This is such a special island, a special place. It’s very close to my heart.”


V must be for voice. Ronnie possesses one of the most celebrated voices in rock. 

“Thank you,” he responds. “I think most of it is a matter of technique. You have to know how not to abuse yourself. I was a smoker for quite a few years – in Rainbow and early Sabbath I was on three packs a day. It never bothered me, but when I stopped it did help a lot – gave me another note-and-a-half in range. But it’s a matter of not abusing myself too much, knowing how to do it, and my intense desire to always be great.”


W is for Wendy, his ex-wife who is now his manager. 

“My best friend. I think that really says it all. Someone I can always trust, I’ve always been able to trust; someone who always looks after my interests well. She’s just my best friend. And she’s the brightest person I know.”


X is for X-rated. Dio’s career has famously been bereft of the kind of horror stories that have blighted those of many of his peers. 

“I just felt that they needed more press than I needed, and if I took it away from them, their careers were gonna suffer,” he laughs impishly. “I’ve never been that kind of person. I wasn’t brought up that way. My folks said: ‘Before you do something, just ask yourself this: “Is this going to make us proud of you?”’ So I didn’t shoot up, I didn’t rob places, and I didn’t do any of those kind of things. It was important to me because I really loved my folks a lot. X-rated? No, those things are just not in my life.”


Y is for youth. Or rather the secret of eternal youth. Now in his late 50s, Ronnie James Dio is still rocking as strongly as ever. How does he do it? 

“I’m immortal,” he laughs. 

Y is also for You what?! Or, more precisely, the website Dio For America which puts forward the idea of Dio running for US president. 

“I have seen it,” he admits. “It’s probably not tongue-in-cheek. But I reckon I’d make a better President than George Bush. We wouldn’t be in Iraq, and it’d be a happy rock’n’roll world if I was The Man. So yeah, I’m going for it.”


Z is for zeitgeist. Ronnie has seen all manner of music fads come and go. How does he keep apace with rock’s ever-changing moods? 

“One of the secrets is to be singularly directive,” he offers. “If you start chopping and changing with each fad that comes along, you have to compete every decade with something new. I love what I do, and I’m lucky enough to be able to do it all the time. You won’t hear a lot of surprises when you buy a Dio record. You’ll get quality, a political statement here or there, but you’ll always know what you’re going to get. And that’s what Dio fans want. They expect me to be Dio, and that’s what I’ll always be.” 

As we prepare to take our leave, Ronnie grabs my arm. “How did you choose Z?” he asks. 

I tell him that I looked under ‘Z’ in the dictionary until I found a word we could apply to him. 

“I got another one for you,” he smiles, knowing the press’s penchant for fun. “Zimmer frame!”

Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.