40 Years Ago, Ronnie James Dio Cemented His Greatness with Holy Diver


When Ronnie James Dio left Rainbow in 1979, he didn’t wallow in self-pity or rest on his laurels. Instead, he replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath and further solidified his place as one of the genre’s greatest singers via 1980’s Heaven and Hell and 1981’s Mob Rules.

He then faced a similar crossroads post-Mob Rules when he parted ways with Black Sabbath. Rather than front someone else’s band yet again, however, he took the opportunity to spearhead his own project – Dio – and set the heavy metal world aflame with the quartet’s landmark first album, Holy Diver, which arrived on May 25th, 1983.

Forty years later, Holy Diver remains one of the genre’s superlative debuts and most legendary collections.


Regarding why Dio – and new drummer Vinny Appice – quit Black Sabbath so soon after arriving, Appice told Sonic Perspectives in 2022: “Tony [Iommi], Ronnie, and Geezer [Butler] weren’t seeing eye to eye anymore.” So, Dio decided to leave, and he asked Appice to come along.

“I could’ve stayed with Sabbath,” Appice explained. “I loved Tony and Geezer . . . but I thought that this would be pretty exciting, starting a band with Ronnie.”

In an interview for the 2005 remaster of Holy Diver, Dio reflected that the new group was born from “a lot of frustration,” adding: “I decided that I better take control of my own life. . . . [Holy Diver] gave me a chance to choose the people that I want[ed] to play with and make the kind of music that I want[ed] to make.”


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