On the fifth anniversary of Dio's death, Billboard asked the album's participants -- including Judas Priest's Rob Halford, Anthrax's Joey Belladonna and more -- on their thoughts on Dio as a person, as well as their feelings about his music and the tracks they recorded for This Is Your Life.
"He was one of the greatest singers of all time, a gentleman and friend. I miss him every day."
-- Joey Belladonna, singer of Anthrax
"Ronnie James Dio was one of the most talented, creative, nicest and funniest guys ever to walk the earth! It was also a total pleasure to tour and hang out with the man. We miss him big time!"
Ronnie James Dio Remembered by Fans, Friends
"Ronnie James Dio was essentially the first heavy metal artist I ever listened to. I still clearly remember being about 10 years old, sitting in the passenger seat of my uncle's car, and hearing the Holy Diver record for the first time. Mind blown! It's still one of my favorite records today. I never had the chance to meet Ronnie personally, but I was lucky enough to see him live a few times, with his Dio lineup and with Heaven & Hell … and that man delivered. The perfect voice, if you ask me! Ronnie will be greatly missed, but his music will certainly live on forever and will continue to inspire musicians and music fans the world over."
-- Joel Stroetzel, guitarist for Killswitch Engage
"One of my favorite tracks of Ronnie's was from his work with Rainbow called 'Stargazer.' This was a track that was included in the set many times, and I always enjoyed playing it. Ronnie's lyrics seem to take you to this other world, almost like a movie: 'High noon, oh I'd sell my soul for water/Nine years worth of breaking my back.' Along with the epic, building riffs and the orchestration on the outro, [it's] just pure genius, a masterpiece.
The track that I played on This Is Your Life was 'Catch the Rainbow.' We played this track many times live with Ronnie. [It was] one of the gentler songs Ronnie and Ritchie Blackmore wrote. Glenn Hughes, a good friend of Ronnie and Wendy [Dio's], sang it. I was lucky enough to be in the studio when he did, and his very emotional performance sent goosebumps up my arms. He just poured his heart and soul out. Everyone in the studio felt it.
Ronnie James Dio, Metal Legend, Dead at 67
Ronnie had a big influence on me as a person and musician. We became very good friends, and I was very proud to be in his band. He could be a tough boss, but only because he wanted to bring out the best of your abilities and make the show and the songs the best they could be, and we all understood that. We went through a lot together, and I never forget him. He had high standards and a wicked, dry sense of humor, very caring and very loyal to his family, friends and fans. I miss you, my friend. R.I.P. Ron."
-- Simon Wright, former Dio drummer and current drummer for Dio Disciples and Operation: Mindcrime
"I'm one of the few that never really got the opportunity to just hang out with Ronnie. I did meet Ronnie when Stryper opened for Dio in 1990 at Irvine Meadows [in Irvine, Calif.]. He was a true gentleman, and the thing that struck me was considering his level of fame, he was as humble and gracious as they come. It left an impression on me.
Ronnie left an eternal mark on metal/hard rock due to the level of talent that he was blessed with and the level of commitment and quality that he wrote/produced/performed with. He set the bar in all that he did, and everyone else watched and listened in amazement. I always loved Ronnie's voice and the passion that he delivered a vocal with. I remember listening to his voice and thinking how powerful and strong it always sounded. It influenced me to try to sing with the same conviction and emotion in my performances.
I've always held a special place in my heart for 'Heaven and Hell.' It's one of those songs that instantly says, 'Timeless,' and it is! Stryper had the opportunity to record a cover album, and I immediately suggested 'Heaven and Hell.' From the music to the lyrics, it is a rock/metal anthem and will always be ranked as one of the greats. After hearing about Ronnie's passing, recording 'Heaven and Hell' took on a new meaning. It became a tribute to the man who led the way in this genre. It was and is an absolute honor to have been a part of this project. God bless Ronnie and all the fans worldwide."
-- Michael Sweet, singer of Stryper
"The few times I was honored to meet and hang with Ronnie were an absolute treasure. He was one of the kindest, most down-to-earth people you could ever meet. He made you feel like he was honored to meet you, which is mind-blowing, being he's one of the greatest rock vocalists and legends we have in the rock world. Seeing him perform live was always nothing short of incredible and left you feeling truly empowered by his music.
[Dio impacted metal/hard rock in too many ways] to list, but for me it was his true command and sheer power of his voice. He made you feel every word his sang and lifted you up in a way that made you simply want to scream and chant along with him through every line in any song he sang.
Ronnie influenced me by showing how to truly put your heart in a performance. No matter what instrument you play, do it from the heart with passion, grace and fire, and let the listener truly feel that you mean it from deep inside. Holy Diver and The Last in Line were very influential early in my playing. 'Stand Up and Shout' was one of the first songs I ever performed with a band. Very near and dear to my heart in forming my hard rock roots.
"Adrenaline Mob recorded 'The Mob Rules' [for This Is Your Life], and it was truly an honor to be a part of that album. It's one of my favorite Dio/Sabbath tracks ever, and we've closed every AMOB show for the last four years with that track in honor of the late, great Ronnie James Dio. Long live RJD!"
-- Mike Orlando, guitarist for Adrenaline Mob
"Ronnie stayed true to himself and true to the fans of this style of music regardless of its popularity over the years. For me, as a guitar player, I feel he had an incredible ear for finding some really fantastic players on his albums, from Vivian Campbell to Craig Goldy and beyond. I was able to learn something from all of them. He was the best.
Dio's music is a huge influence on me. My older sister was a massive fan in the early '80s when I was very young. Albums like Heaven and Hell and Holy Diver are among some of the first records I ever remember hearing. He's been a staple in my music collection my entire life. From Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Elf, all the way back to his music from the late '50s/early '60s with The Red Caps and The Prophets. I listen to it all.
[I particularly love] Holy Diver. It must have been very tough for him to break away from the success of his Black Sabbath years to take a chance on a solo album. As I said, it's one of the first albums I was exposed to as a kid, so that has a lot to do with it as well. Every song is great, and the musicianship from Vivian, Jimmy Bain and Vinnie Appice is second to none. It's an incredibly inspiring album. A timeless masterpiece, in my opinion.
'Rainbow in the Dark' is a song I've always been able to relate to. I read years ago that the lyrics are about his split with Black Sabbath. Whether that's true or not, it's an incredibly powerful song in any context. When Corey [Taylor] asked me to be a part of it I was really excited. Not only is it such a great song, but to be able to record it with some of my best friends was a really special thing. I like that we put our own spin on it, and I'm very proud with how it all came together. A lot of love went into that track."
-- Christian Martucci, guitarist for Stone Sour