Dean Schachtel, GM of Ronnie James Dio’s label and management company, Niji Entertainment Group, passed away suddenly at the age of 49 on Monday morning (May 18), Billboard has confirmed.
Shachtel’s wife Teresa announced his passing earlier tonight on his Facebook page, writing: “It is with shock and sadness that I tell you that my husband Dean Schachtel has passed away today…please know that he was a wonderful man who will now be with his maker.”
Schachtel -- the right hand man of Dio and his wife Wendy -- got his start in radio in the early ‘80s at KDSK, and his impressive resume included employment at Warner Music Group, Rhino Records, Jewish Music Group and running social media for Dio as well as Motörhead. Schachtel was instrumental in organizing this past weekend’s festivities commemorating the five-year anniversary of Dio’s death from gastric cancer.
The events -- which included a memorial service, bowling tournament, motorcycle “Ride for Ronnie” and a concert in Los Encinos featuring Lita Ford and Eddie Money -- served as a benefit for Dio’s “Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund.”
On May 16 -- the anniversary of Dio's death -- Schachtel wrote a beautiful memorial to Dio online: "Today is 5 years since we lost our Dear Friend Ronnie James Dio. We think about you and miss you every day. You were the greatest singer in the world, but more importantly, the nicest man in the world! Thank you for being a wonderful friend and Zander's Goddather! We love you!"
Schachtel was tireless in keeping the flame burning in Dio's memory, and as a board member of the Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, always spoke from the heart about the disease that took his close friend.
"If you are a man, get checked for cancer. It’s easy and painless… Do it for your wife, girlfriend, kids, parents and Ronnie," he said.
An enthusiastic lover of rock and roll, wrestling and metal, Schachtel was a family man devoted to his son, Zander. Schachtel’s loss was a shock to the music industry, as outpourings of grief were posted on Twitter and his Facebook page with touching remembrances.
"As I am hearing this I don't have the words to describe what I'm feeling," wrote Munsey Ricci. "To my longtime friend and colleague, I am truly saddened. Thank you for all the memories and good times working together and kicking it with the guys. You and Ronnie were 2 people that are irreplaceable."
Eddie Trunk, host of VH1's That Metal Show, expressed his grief on Twitter.
"My friend Dean Schachtel has passed away suddenly he was one of the most amazing guys with the biggest heart. He was a huge fan of wrestling and rock and roll everyone loved him and he loved his wife and son more then anything," wrote Jimmy Della Valle, while Bebe Buell posted the tribute, "I'm still processing... can't take it all in. Too many emotions swirling around to put into words how this feels."
Julie Gordon described Schachtel as " a super music fan, a super music marketer and a wonderful human being."
Added Gary Jay: "Beyond gutted...I'm in total shock...Dean was a true rock believer, a smart, savvy, and tireless business partner, and just a really great human being. I just can't believe he's gone."