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Dio recalls first song written in Sabbath in upcoming autobiography excerpt

Ronnie James Dio

Classic Rock

Dio recalls first song written in Sabbath in upcoming autobiography excerpt

The legendary singer Ronnie James Dio (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio) was writing an autobiography just before his death back in 2010. His widow Wendy Dio and journalist Mick Wall finished the book now and shared with Rolling Stone magazine the first excerpt where Ronnie recalls the first song he wrote with Black Sabbath and shared details of his first days in the band.


Ronnie James Dio recalls first song written with Black Sabbath in upcoming autobiography excerpt:

“I was at the Rainbow one night when Sabbath’s tall brooding guitarist Tony Iommi walked in. I liked Tony right away, I knew he was the musical leader of Sabbath, the mastermind behind some of the most classic guitar riffs in the history of rock. We got to talking and it turned out that we were both contemplating solo albums. Tony confided that the band had just kicked Ozzy out.”

Ozzy has been the first to admit that he was his own worst enemy in those days, at a time when his drinking and drugging were completely out of control. He was hardly the only rock star to suffer that fate. Tony explained that the band’s bassist and usual lyricist Terry “Geezer” Butler was also going through some family issues. Hence Tony’s inclination to consider some sort of solo project.”

“I was all about experimenting with ideas at that point and suggested a possible collaboration. Maybe. One day. Maybe not. No biggie. Next thing I knew I was riding in the back of Tony’s limo to a studio in L.A. where Tony had this “idea for a song” he wanted to play me but that he was having trouble finishing without a vocalist and some lyrics. When he pressed play on the console, I could not believe my ears! This was no off-the-cuff idea that still needed a ton of work. This was a fully-fledged Sabbath behemoth!”

Dio continued:

“It started moody and glowing, nimble acoustic guitars enhanced by magic ribbons of electric guitar. Then, suddenly, after about 40 seconds, there it was coming out of the speakers like forked lightning, the ultimate in monstrous riffs. No other guitarist in rock history could have come up with anything like it. Heavy, pure, yet shining like a beacon. Before the song was halfway through, before Tony could even ask me for my thoughts, I was scribbling down the words that came to me immediately.”

‘In the misty morning, on the edge of time, we’ve lost the rising sun, a final sign….’

“Then I was up singing them into the mic, Tony rolling the tape, a huge smile on his chiseled face. It was to be the first thing Tony and I ever wrote together — and it was to be one of the very best. We called it “Children of the Sea,” and the first time we played the demo back in the early hours of the following morning we both knew. This is what we were going to do next, come what may.”

“At first the talk was of me working with Tony on his solo album. That notion was quickly dispelled as we came up with more and more amazing songs together. With Ozzy definitely out and Geezer starting to come back from his family crisis, Tony and Bill took the next logical step and invited me to join Black Sabbath. The truth is he had never wanted to end Sabbath. He just couldn’t see how they could continue without Ozzy.”

He continued:

“I admit, at first, I shied away from the prospect. So I was desperate to do my own thing again after the years working under Ritchie Blackmore’s rule. I was also unsure how on earth I was supposed to replace Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. Unlike in years to come, when groups like Van Halen, Bad Company, Iron Maiden, and even Queen could bring in a new frontman with impunity, in the late Seventies, the idea of a superstar group like Sabbath replacing their frontman was considered unthinkable. Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant, the Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger? Sacrilege.”

“The fact that I was already well known to the rock audience as the singer of Rainbow was a double-edged sword, as I saw it. I could end up alienating both Sabbath and Rainbow fans. On the other hand, as Tony saw it, bringing in a new singer no one had ever heard of before was a much bigger risk. Tony told me he was sure I’d be able to pull it off. Well, vocally, for sure. Ozzy was a great frontman, but a great singer? Not so much. But Ozzy was Sabbath as far as their legions of fans worldwide were concerned. How would they take to the American guy from Rainbow, no matter how well I could sing?”

Ronnie James Dio continued:

“Someone who definitely did not think I was up to the job was Don Arden, who went insane when he discovered what Tony had been up to, threatening all sorts of retribution. Don knew deep down, however, that the situation with Ozzy was no longer sustainable. It had also been years since that lineup had had a hit record in the States. At one point he even suggested that I write with Tony and sing on the album, but that they take Ozzy out on tour.”

“When Tony told Don where he could shove that stupid idea, that was the end of Sabbath as far as Don was concerned. He canceled the lease on the house he was renting for them and sold their management contract to a guy named Sandy Pearlman, then the manager of Blue Öyster Cult, one of the many American bands in the Seventies to be directly influenced by primetime Sabbath. Then he told Sharon to start taking care of Ozzy as a solo artist: the beginning of a long and incessantly winding road that deserves a book of its own.”

He continued:

“In fairness to Don, though, I still wasn’t fully convinced either. What tilted my hand in the end was the sheer quality of the songs Tony and I had been writing. That plus the fact that Tony assured me this would not be like my situation in Rainbow, where Ritchie was the boss and that was that. If I joined him in Sabbath it would be as an equal partner with equal say, musically and business-wise.”

“The real clincher though was when Wendy got hold of me and told me straight: “Ronnie, we’ve got less than eight hundred bucks in the bank, we’ve got to do something!” Wendy was right, of course. She always was. I phoned Tony: ‘Okay, man, I’m in. When do we start?'”

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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