Ronnie James Dio (born Ronald James Padavona; July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010) was an American heavy metal singer, songwriter and musician. He fronted and/or founded numerous groups including Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven and Hell. He is credited with popularizing the "metal horns" hand gesture in metal culture and is known for his medieval themed lyrics. Dio possessed a powerful versatile vocal range capable of singing both hard rock and lighter ballads; according to Rainbow/Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore upon hearing him sing, "I felt shivers down my spine." Dio sold over 47 million albums throughout his career.
Dio and his first wife, Loretta Berardi (born 1941), adopted a son, novelist Dan Padavona.
After divorcing Berardi, he married Wendy Gaxiola (born 1945) who also served as his manager. In the 1980s, she managed the Los Angeles rock bands Rough Cutt, and Hellion. Dio remained married to Gaxiola until his death.
On November 25, 2009, Wendy announced that Dio had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and was being treated at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, but that he would be back on stage when recovered.
On May 4, 2010, Heaven and Hell announced they were canceling all summer dates as a result of Dio's ill health. His last live performance was with Heaven and Hell on August 29, 2009, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
A statement made by Dio's wife had stated that Dio had died at 7:45 am (CDT) on May 16, 2010, of metastasized stomach cancer, according to official sources.
A public memorial service was held on May 30, 2010 at The Hall of Liberty, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles. The hall was filled to capacity, with many more fans sitting outside the hall watching the memorial on multiple giant screens on both the east and south sides of the hall. Friends, family, and former and current band mates of Dio gave speeches and performed including Rudy Sarzo, Geoff Tate, John Payne, Glenn Hughes, Joey Belladonna, and Heaven and Hell keyboard player, Scott Warren. On the screen was an accompanying documentary covering Dio's career from his early days with Elf to his final project with Heaven and Hell.