Ronnie James Dio got spat on by Black Sabbath fans when he replaced Ozzy Osbourne

Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns - Getty)

Ronnie James Dio received a rough reception from a section of the Black Sabbath fanbase when he replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the band's vocalist, according to the late singer's former wife and manager Wendy Dio.

"He got spat on and he got booed," she recalls, remembering her late husband's initiation into the band in 1980, following Ozzy's sacking from the group.

On what would have been her late husband's 80th birthday weekend, Wendy Dio was speaking to UK freelance radio presenter Danny Stoakes when she made the claims, recalling how Dio's introduction to the Birmingham metal legends was "very hard" at times, and acknowledging that RJD had "very hard shoes to fill."

"Ozzy, when Ozzy was on top form, was one of the best frontmen ever," says Wendy Dio, as transcribed by Blabbermouth, "along with David Lee Roth. He [Roth] wasn't a great singer - Ronnie was a great singer - so the band, when [Ronnie] went into the band, the music changed a little; it was more melodic and completely different."

"I've always said: there's Black Sabbath [with Ozzy] and there's Black Sabbath [with Ronnie], and they're both as good," she continued. "One is not better than the other; it's just they're different — they're totally different

"I mean, Ozzy was an innovator, and that's music that was the innovations of the start of heavy metal, and I would never put that down. But Ronnie made a difference; he was different. He was more melodic, his songs were different, his stage performance was different. But it was very hard. He got spat on and he got booed and a lot of things in the beginning, but Ronnie, he carried on and did his thing. And then I think the kids started to really accept him. And, in fact, some kids I talk to don't even know about Black Sabbath before Heaven And Hell, but that's the younger generation."

Listen to the full 38-minute interview below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.