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11 Myths About Ronnie James Dio Debunked

Updated September 23, 2021 75.4k views11 items

Ronnie James Dio was a metal legend with a powerful voice and even more powerful mystique. The mythology about Dio - from his alleged Satan worship to the meaning of his name - only fueled his reputation as a titan of heavy metal.

Through his career, from his days in Rainbow to his role as a replacement for Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath, there are many things that have been believed or assumed about Dio. In reality, he was a much simpler person than his music suggested. As perhaps the most influential figure in heavy metal, mythology and misconception naturally surrounds the late singer's legacy and often overshadows the real man - a powerful singer from an Italian family in New Hampshire. 

Here are some of the most common misconceptions and little-known facts about the man (not the myth or the legend) who was Ronnie James Dio. 

  • Photo: Adam Bielawski / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    He Never Had Any Formal Vocal Training

    For someone with such a legendary voice, it's surprising to learn that Dio never had any formal vocal training. Wendy Dio confirmed in an interview with Loudwire the longstanding rumor that her late husband was never trained as a singer, saying that he learned how to sing properly from doing breathing exercises.

    How impressive is it that Dio never had any formal training? Try listening to "Holy Diver."

  • He Didn't Always Play Metal Music

    Video: YouTube

    Dio was not always a charismatic metal singer. Dio began his musical career playing trumpet and bass in a pop group. His trumpet playing began at age 5, and he started his first band, the Vegas Kings, in 1957 - which kickstarted his singing career.

    "No one else wanted the job," he said of the decision to take on vocals. "It wasn't my plan at all to lead the band."

    Over the following years, Dio would be part of groups such as Ronnie & the Redcaps, Ronnie Dio & the Prophets and the Electric Elves before forming Rainbow with Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore in 1975.

  • Photo: Helge Øverås / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    His Stage Name Wasn't Derived From 'God'

    Contrary to popular belief, Dio did not get his legendary stage name from the Italian word for "God." It's an easy misconception, as he began using the name with his band Ronnie Dio & the Prophets.

    The name actually comes from the Italian mobster Giovanni Ignazio Dioguardi, who went by the name of Johnny Dio. 

  • Photo: Diego Torres Silvestre / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    He Was Accused By Black Sabbath Members Of Turning His Vocals Up In The Studio

    One rumor about Dio that was seemingly put to rest by his wife was a story told by his Black Sabbath bandmates that involved the singer sneaking into the recording studio in the middle of the night and turning his vocals up behind the rest of the band's backs. 

    The incident was alleged to have taken place when the band was mixing their live album Live Evil, which was released in 1982. Wendy Dio denied the accusations.

    "They did think that. It wasn't true that Ronnie did that," she said