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The Passing Of A Metal Legend

When you’re a fan of Heavy Metal, you border on weird and obsessive. Punks are apathetic, indie rock kids are too cool for what they liked six months ago and Hip Hop is stuck in it’s own period of Glam that Metal saw back in the 80’s, the madness for the music just isn’t the same. For a lot of people music is just music but to the average metalhead, their music is their identity. Metal kids encapsulate bands in their arms and hold them so close that the grip, while loving, can be strangling.

Shows are like church and the bands who sweat out song after song are the apostles to a gospel for those who dress in black. It isn’t just a style of music it’s a community and a scene, a youth group for outsiders or a place for the local drunks to smash into one another in between swigs of cheap beer.

As a whole, the genre isn’t that old, it’s barely 40. Punk is almost as old. Hip Hop isn’t much younger either. The odd part about all of this is that unlike classic rock or all things baby boomer, the metal world is seeing a part of life that has been sang about since song one: death.

The musicians who helped lay the ground work for the music are getting older and their bodies from years of abuse and excess, are getting weaker. Ozzy isn’t a spring chicken anymore, he tried retiring almost fifteen years ago. Dimebag was a casualty the guitar-playing world still mourns daily because his death was a senseless loss. Peter Steele of Type O Negative recently passed away from heart failure, a sign that all of his years of partying hard maybe, finally caught up. Yesterday, the news of Ronnie James Dio’s passing was kind of a shock. People who followed him knew he was sick but no one expected the former Rainbow singer to actually die from his cancer. Metal is bigger than death, it’s all about cheating the grim reaper, to get a drink with him and run before he swings the scythe at you.

Dio represented a different kind of icon to people who love banging their heads. Guys like Phil Anselmo make you want to proverbially “dude out”, Max Cavelera made you want to throw a firebomb threw a window when he sang for Sepultura. Dio wanted you to throw up the horns (he invented it) or give the metal claw like it was your job as you flipped out to your favorite song, his or anyone’s. Be it getting smashed against a guardrail or just jackassing around in a bar and Holy Diver happened to be on the jukebox, Metal takes you out the element that everything in the world sucks. It’s a release that frightens those who don’t understand and empowers the one’s who feed its fire.

He wasn’t surrounded by weird myths or wasn’t this total sellout like a dude in KISS, he was a little guy who got on stage and sang songs about dragons and magic and otherworldly stuff. He took over for Ozzy when Black Sabbath kicked him out and he managed to be even better when he left to form his own band. All while never acting like a rock star. He had plenty of money and could have opened some sort of evil themed eatery ala Alice Cooper (LAME) but he didn’t. He kept making music till the day he died. That is what legends do, they come into the world, totally own it on their accord and go out like a champion. While mainstream media will gloss over that he’s gone with a itsy bitsy little paragraph somewhere and joke that a few dudes with long hair will drink a Budweiser and head bang in his honor, which in all likely hood is happening as you read this, other people are remembering that as we get older and our heroes are as human as we are. Ronnie James Dio was a champion of music and a slayer of dragons and fear.

Rest in peace.

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1 Legacy Comment

  • Comment by Rachel Martinez posted June 17, 2010 at 20:43

    Amazing article. Spoken like a true metal fan.