In the mid-’80s, Dio, a heavy metal quintet, was considered one of the top concert attractions in the United States. This is not exactly surprising as Dio is deemed one of the most over-the-top stage acts ever, making use of special effects and props – a giant dragon, explosions, lasers, you name it.
Led by Ronnie James Dio (Rainbow and Black Sabbath’s former frontman), he recruited a stellar lineup to back him up – Jimmy Bain (bass), Vinny Appice (drummer), and Vivian Campbell (guitar). Lyrically, the band focused on the subject matter James Dio is an expert in: swords, damsels in distress, sorcery, and dungeons and dragons.
Holy Diver, their 1983 debut, spawned the popular MTV video, Rainbow in the Dark. The Last in Line, their sophomore effort, was released a year after. This time, the band has added a new member, keyboardist Claude Schnell. The album became one of Dio’s biggest hits and they became arena headliners soon after.
Sacred Heart, the band’s next album, was released in 1985. While the album was successful commercially, Campbell became disheartened by the band’s direction and decided to leave a year later. Before Campbell’s exit, the band helped organize Hear n’ Aid, an all-star gathering of heavy metal artists.
Through the years, the band’s lineup continued to change. When Lock Up the Wolves was released in 1990, the only original member remaining was Dio himself. Despite several lineup changes, the band was able to release Strange Highways (1994), Angry Machines (1996), and Inferno: Last in Live (1998).
In 2000, Dio released the concept album Magica, their first in four years. It was followed by The Very Beast of Dio, a 16-track compilation. Killing of the Dragon, a medieval-themed metal album, was released in the spring of 2002. While the album was a serious endeavor, he featured the comedy duo Tenacious D to star in the video.
In the mid-2000, the band released another studio album, Master of the Moon. They also released Evil or Divine: Live in New York City in 2005. In November 2009, James Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Unfortunately, James Dio succumbed to the disease on May 16, 2010.