Rainbow in the Dark: The Biography of Ronnie James Dio

(A Review)

Right. I’ve been waiting a long time for this one. Nearly ten years, to be precise. Why so long, you ask? Apparently, Wendy Dio has taken quite a while coming to terms with the death of her former husband and co-author. Still, it’s been well worth the wait.

The consummate skills of Mick Wall have been employed to bring this biography to life. He is long-time friend of the Dios and author of acclaimed rock biographies such as ‘When Gods walked the Earth,’ and ‘Two Riders Were Approaching,’ (Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix respectively.) As such, the prose is more straightforward and less surreal compared with the Led Zep bio, for example. The result is an impeccable narrative and Mr Wall brings Ronald Padavona’s story to life with great warmth and skill. The rough edges of RJD’s character are not glossed over, but are seen in the context of the singer’s relentless drive and ambition. He demanded much of himself, and of those around him.

As a longstanding devotee of Dio (ever since the late seventies,) the prospect of getting the authorised inside story to his remarkable career was long anticipated. I devoured the book in a couple of days and hardly stopped for breath. To be clear, this volume represents the first part of his life-story, up to his appearance at Madison Square Gardens during the mid-eighties – the pinnacle of his career, as he describes it. Will there be a part two? I certainly hope so.

I was pleased to see holes filled in RJD’s history that are not presented (to my knowledge) in any interview I’ve listened to or read before. So, you get a unique insight into his early years, and how he came to possess such a remarkable voice. This was, no doubt, partly due to genetics, but also learning how to breathe properly through four years perfecting his technique on the trumpet. The result was a lion’s roar of a voice that stood the test of time right up to the date of an untimely death in his late sixties.

Additional perspectives are gained from his side of the story regarding break-ups with Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and Vivian Campbell. What’s more, the reader gets the lowdown on that famed séance at the Chateau d’Herouville, where Rainbow recorded Long Live Rock n’ Roll, and allegedly witnessed the appearance of Baal.

There are other novel descriptions of Dio’s song writing and lyrical approach, re-inforcing my notion that his words can be interpreted in many different ways. Throughout it all, Dio’s voice, stage presence, attitude to life, philosophy and generous personality are revealed.

Dio hardly mentions his first wife. It would seem he was primarily married to the music – no surprise there! However, the relationship with his wife/manager, Wendy Dio, is laid out in great detail. There are segments written by Wendy herself, that add to, rather than detract from the story. As for pictures, ,some new ones are included from the Dio estate, along with others Dio fans will have seen elsewhere.

It doesn’t explicitly state that proceeds from the book go towards Dio’s Stand Up and Shout Cancer fund, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the charity benefits. It’s already raised over $2 million in the last ten years.

Rainbow in the Dark is not so much a rags-to-riches biography as a small beginnings-to- colossal musical achievements epic. Should you buy it? Absolutely. No Dio fan will be disappointed by this book. The Lion that is Dio will roar forever, so ride the tiger and enjoy!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: