Ronald James Padavona (July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010) known professionally as Ronnie James Dio or simply Dio, was an American heavy metal singer-songwriter and composer. He fronted or founded numerous groups throughout his career, including Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio, and Heaven & Hell.
Dio was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where his family resided for his father's service in the U.S. Army during World War II; they soon relocated to Cortland, New York. His music career began there in 1957 as part of the Vegas Kings (later Ronnie and the Rumblers). In 1967, he formed the rock band Elf, which became a regular opening act for Deep Purple. In 1975, Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore founded the band Rainbow along with Dio, where he began a successful career releasing albums like Rising (1976) and Long Live Rock N' Roll (1978). In 1979, Dio joined Black Sabbath as lead singer. He appeared in two studio albums of the band which met with success: Heaven & Hell (1980) and Mob Rules (1981). In 1982 he left the band to pursue a solo career, having two albums certified platinum by RIAA. In 2006 he founded the band Heaven & Hell with ex-bandmate Tony Iommi. Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2009, from which he died the following year.
Dio is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal artists of all time. He is known for introducing and popularizing the "Metal Horns" hand gesture in metal culture and his medieval-themed song lyrics. According to a version provided by the singer himself, the act derives directly from the classic Italian apotropaic gesture, which his grandmother usually did. Dio had a powerful, versatile vocal range and was capable of singing both hard rock and lighter ballads. He was awarded the "Metal Guru Award" by Classic Rock Magazine in 2006. He was also named the "Best Metal singer" at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in 2010 and ranked as the genre's best vocalist in 2013 by music journalist Sacha Jenkins.