Everyone has already come forth to pay tribute to Dio (totally appropriate) or talk about the time they met the man and what a class-act he was (also appropriate), but soon people who never really knew him will start to say they were his best friend (like that time Marq Torien claimed he and Layne Staley were best buds), or try to re-write history (I can’t believe Vivian Campbell hasn’t made a statement yet), and bands will start covering Dio and Dio-era Sabbath songs for no better reason than it’s an easy way to get the crowd on your side. Dio was an incredibly talented musician – it’s amazingly inspiring and almost impossible to believe that his voice was still in such amazing shape, or that anyone actually managed to stay cool and not sell-out for that long – but the meaning of his passing goes beyond even that; although he died of cancer and not old age, his death signals that metal’s founding generation is getting older, and that, like my family’s table the past few Thanksgivings (fewer and fewer members of “The Greatest Generation,” more and more people who won’t a remember a time when we didn’t have the internet), the landscape is going to look increasingly different in the coming years as the Dios begin to disappear and the Hetfields become the elder statesmen and the Adlers become the seasoned veterans and the Mansoors become the young bucks. Dio’s death has, for lack of a more sensitive term, subtext; it’s for this reason that, with all due respect to every member of the metal community who passed away between December 8, 2004, and May 16, 2010, the loss of Dio has had a greater impact on the headbanger populace than any since Dime was murdered.
And the way you can tell is because those deaths not only struck a chord with us, the metal faithful, but have managed to become news outside the realm of heavy music as well. I found out about Dime because my mother called and woke me up and frantically told me to turn on the radio because “a famous heavy metal guitarist from a band I think you like was killed;” likewise, yesterday I was in therapy when my shrink asked me, “Didn’t a very famous heavy metal singer pass away this week?” (My shrink is roughly the same age as Dio, and also of Sicilian descent; he was tickled when I told him the story of Dio’s grandmother and the birth of the horns, as his family used to use the same symbolic hand gensture for the same purpose.)
And so it is that two of the most noteworthy pieces written about RJD’s passing have come from media venues not traditionally known for their metalocity.
Unfortunately, while one of those pieces is incredibly awesome, one of them is incredibly lame.
I’m not gonna talk too much about what David Marchese wrote for Spin this week; I think our friends at Metal Injection (who discovered the story) and Metal Insider have said pretty much all there is to say on the subject. The article is certainly ignorant, insensitive, and disrespectful, but I think Anso put it best when he e-mailed us his reaction yesterday: “It probably can’t count as a diss. I don’t even think a diss is possible. It’s like if someone walked up to you and said ‘Axl, water is bullshit. Fuck that shit. Oh, and airplanes? Gay!'” It just doesn’t make any sense, and therefore, the only appropriate reaction is to shrug it off and move on with your life.
I do, however, want to commend Robert Brockway, who wrote the incredibly incredible “For Dio: The Only Appropriate Tribute” for Cracked. The less I tell you about it in advance of you reading it, the better; suffice it to say that it’s not really an obituary or a remembrance so much as it’s a short story that honors one of metal’s greatest singers. It may read to some as ironic in tone as Marchese’s piece, but I don’t think it is; I believe it’s a completely sincere tribute that just happens to be incredibly humorous in tone. Check it out here and decide for yourself.
Thanks to Travis Palano for sending us the link to Brockway’s story.