Ronnie James Dio, Ex-Black Sabbath Singer, Dies

Ronnie James Dio, who helped defined the heavy metal genre in the late 70s to the 80s, has succumbed to stomach cancer at age 67. Dio, who became a heavy metal icon when he replaced Ozzy Osbourne as vocalist of Black Sabbath in 1979, was diagnosed with cancer five months ago.

Dio’s wife, Wendy, said her husband died peacefully. “Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away.” Wendy said she will reveal more information about Dio’s death in the next few days. “Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss,” she said.

Dio started his music career in 1957, but he achieved a semblance of success only in 1969, when he formed Elf, which became a regular opening act for Deep Purple. Dio’s powerful vocals caught the ears of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who recruited the vocalist to form Rainbow.

Dio left Rainbow in 1979 and replaced Osbourne as front man of Black Sabbath, with whom he recorded three albums before leaving to form his own band Dio.