DIO (1982–PRESENT). Ronnie James Dio (vocals), Vivian Campbell (guitar), Jimmy Bain (bass), Vinnie Appice (drums).
Dio is the primary solo band for Ronnie James Dio, former lead singer of numerous classic heavy metal bands, including Black Sabbath, Elf, Rainbow and Heaven and Hell. Although Ronnie James Dio had been in the music industry sporadically for almost two decades, Dio had been primarily known as frontman in bands dominated by various strong guitar players who believed that the lead singer played second fiddle, as in Dio’s involvement in Rainbow and Black Sabbath.
When Ronnie James Dio and Sabbath drummer Vinnie Appice acrimoniously departed from Black Sabbath in 1982, Dio decided that he had had enough of the interpersonal conflicts and formed a band that played up to his image with Sabbath and Rainbow. Basing his themes primarily on the typical Black Sabbath themes of the unknown, the occult, and the medieval, Dio found a slightly more contemporary formula and had instant success with his first record that featured, along with Dio and Appice, the killer combination of ex–Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain and guitarist Vivian Campbell.
For the next record, Dio expanded the sound with the addition of keyboard player Claude Schell, who helped give eerie background atmospherics to the next Dio record, The Last in Line, which proved to be even more successful than the first offering. Dio’s fantasy-tinged videos were soon all over MTV, where Dio’s height and hair problems somehow turned out not to be problems, as metal fans anxiously ate up Dio’s sound in an era where Black Sabbath was going through a very fallow period. By the next record, Sacred Heart, the usual personnel differences had begun to rear their ugly head, leading to the departure of guitarist Campbell and his replacement by Craig Goldy (formerly of Giuffria), but the rot had set in and by 1990 Dio had replaced the entire band. A revolving cast of characters went in and out for the next decade, and Dio was sometimes distracted by Black Sabbath, which he rejoined in 1992 and in 2006 for tours and recording.
Currently Dio is touring with the reunited Sabbath under the name Heaven and Hell. Despite the corny theatrics and medieval/occult theme that Dio has been associated with for most of his career, his vocals have remained incredibly agile for a man his age and he remains a fan favorite when he gets the band back together for frequent tours.
Discography: Holy Diver (Reprise, 1983); The Last in Line (Warner Brothers, 1984); Sacred nHeart (Warner Brothers, 1985); Dream Evil (Reprise, 1987); Lock up the Wolves (Reprise, 1990); Strange Highways (Reprise, 1994); Angry Machines (Mayhem, 1996); Inferno: Last in Live (Mayhem, 1998); Magica (Spitfire, 2000); Killing the Dragon (Spitfire, 2002); Master of the Moon (Sanctuary, 2004); Evil or Divine Live (Spitfire, 2005); Holy Diver Live (Eagle, 2006).