A chasm was created in the hearts of countless across the planet whose lives were touched by Ronald James Padavona when he left for heaven (and hell) on the 17th of May, 2009. At 67, he was without doubt one of the greatest rock and roll recitalist of all time. Battling cancer for quite a while now, Ronnie only wanted to get back to where he actually belonged – the stage. Crooning heavy metal the right way.
Ronnie was not an ordinary frontman. He falls into that league of extraordinary musicians who are born with that flair to do what they end up doing. Ronnie has always maintained that he has not undegone any kind of formal vocal training, and everything that he has lent his voice for, in a career spanning fifty three years, is testimony to the fact that he was born to impart heavy metal everywhere.
The extent of Ronnie‘s contribution to metal needs to be chronicled to understand the impact of what he actually left behind. Apart from the multitude of projects that Ronnie headed in the initial years of his career that began somewhere in the last half of the fifties through the sixties, the band that managed to get him the big ticket was Elf (1970-1975). It all happened when Elf opened for Deep Purple at a concert. Ritchie Blackmore formed Rainbow with Ronnie on vocals. And then there was no looking back. After three albums with Rainbow over a period of four years (1975-1979), Black Sabbath came calling. Black Sabbath‘s next album Heaven and Hell was released. Being the biggest name of all time, Sabbath saw a savior in Ronnie when the success of Heaven and Hell also helped resurrect the band’s career.
Somewhere around 1982 Ronnie quit Sabbath and this paved the way for what I personally consider not just a band but a revolution – Dio. Putting his semioperatic vocals to best use, Dio conquered everything that was left off his ealier works. Had Ronnie come out with just the debut album Holy Diver under the monicker Dio it would have sealed his identity as the heavy metal messiah, but then he went on to make nine more classics. 2006 saw Ronnie re-uniting with Toni Iommi and Geezer Butler to form another project Heaven and Hell. Some of my favorites at the moment are from their debut they released in 2009 – The Devil You Know, and considering their plans for a follow-up this year, fans can sense the loss already.
But the loss here is beyond just what came upon us the moment we had to accept the news of Ronnie‘s death. The way all of us respond to a metal orgasm by folding our middle and ring fingers with the index and small fingers erect, was appositely named devil’s horns (or, mano cornuto) and gifted to us by Ronnie. Then it would not be wrong to consider him the true ambassador of heavy metal. Everytime we raise our fists in the air we would be remembering him. Thanks Ronnie for everything. Rest in peace. You will be missed.
Check out this article on the Flaming Skull E-Zine here : The Flaming Skull E-Zine : June 2010 issue
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