While he’s only been dead for a little over a week, Ronnie James Dio has been a national treasure for decades. His hometown of Portsmouth, New Hampshire has honored him by… well, not doing anything. Decibel writer and former Portsmouth resident Shawn Macomber is demanding that Ronald James Padanova be immortalized in the town where he was born in an editorial that ran last week on Portsmouth news portal seacoastonline.com:
I live in Philadelphia where the Betsy Ross House — in which Ross, who probably didn’t sew the first American flag, may not have actually lived — is considered a national landmark, yet my former home of Portsmouth boasts not so much as a plaque trumpeting it as the irrefutable birthplace of Ronnie James Dio, the Black Sabbath/Rainbow/Dio frontman who not only penned such timeless anthems as “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Neon Knights,” but also popularized the iconic “devil’s horns” as heavy metaldom’s official salute.
Macomber brings up an extremely valid point in his editorial. Dio went to high school in Cortland, NY, where they christened Dio Way all the way back in 1988. The least Portsmouth could do is give him a plaque or name a street after him. What he really deserves is a statue in the center of town. At the very least, it should look like Stevie Ray Vaughan’s in Austin, but if they’re actually going to make one, it makes the most sense to have him immortalized killing a dragon, like the title of his album, and the cover of the Intermission EP, picture above. So what do you say, Portsmouth?
In the wake of Ronnie James Dio’s passing, anyone with an e-mail address (for better or worse) has written about what the legendary singer meant as a musician, inspiration, and more often than not, friend. It’s not often that someone garners as much respect in the music industry as Dio did. However, according to David Marchese of Spin Magazine, the reason behind this wasn’t because he was a great songwriter, phenomenal vocalist, and a true gentleman, but because he was a short, ugly man who sang about dragons.
First off, the article is wrong from the first sentence. It claims that Dio passed away on Monday, when of course, it happened on Sunday. And it gets worse from there. Metal Injection, who brought the article to our attention, describes it as ’smarmy,’ and that’s a pretty good summation. He essentially starts the article by saying “it’s easy enough for people who aren’t into metal fantasy to make fun of Dio,” and then proceeds to do just that. That’s kinda like saying “I’m not racist, and some of my friends are black,” at a party before telling Obama jokes.
Here’s the takeaway: Dio was praised as a savior for the unattractive, Dungeons & Dragons-playing social outcasts because “not everyone can relate to a Mick Jagger, a Joe Strummer, a Jack White. Those guys are canny. They’re good looking. They probably never had a tough time getting a girlfriend.” Because as we all know, if you’re a metalhead, you obviously aren’t attractive, can’t get a girlfriend, and are pretty much doomed to social rejection.
Marchese then states that Dio’s career slipped after Holy Diver. Really? a 27-year decline? The next two albums, the Last in Line and Sacred Heart, were as good as the first. And even subsequent albums had quality songs. And his reunion and tour with members of Black Sabbath in Heaven and Hell was a comeback in every sense of the word, even winning him a Golden Gods award last month, his last public appearance. Dio died at the top of his game over 50 years into his career.
The most unfortunate thing about the article is that Marchese tries to have it both ways. After insulting both Dio and his fan base, he then talks about how great he was on Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell, compliments the last tour, and mentions how we was exchanging e-mails with friends on Facebook last week about how great “Neon Knights” is. And then he caps the article off by stating that when at the top of his game, Dio sounded like “the most powerful wizard ever.”
It’s ok if you don’t like Dio. It’s not mandatory. But in addition to showing respect for the dead, it wouldn’t hurt to have a little more understanding about Ronnie James Dio behind the lyrics and his stage persona, as well as his fan base. Maybe Spin should have gotten alumnus Chuck Klosterman to write the obituary and let Marchese stick to awkwardly trying to interview Lou Reed. At least Klosterman comes from metal, even if he’s mostly moved on. And while he’s covered metal for Spin in the past, it seems from this article like the only thing Marchese truly understands is feeling like an outcast. While it would be hard to say that Marchese has a real bias against Dio, his obituary isn’t really helping to celebrate his legacy.
It was announced in their just-out October issue and also during the Metal Insider-sponsored CMJ metal panels that following the December 2009 issue, esteemed metal magazine Revolver will be switching to a bimonthly schedule, publishing six times a year.
“Times are tough for everyone, and there’s been no government bailout for hard-rock magazines,” Revolver Editor in Chief Brandon Geist says. “Metal Maniacs and Metal Edge shut down last year, while we at Revolver had to cut some pages and our poster. Eventually we just decided that we needed to refocus on making the greatest magazine we could 6 times a year, instead of putting out an increasingly skinny, good magazine 12 times a year. I think anyone who picks up the new “Hottest Chicks in Metal of All Time” issue, which I’m personally very proud of, will see what I mean, and agree that we’re giving our readers a lot more bang for their buck. Going bimonthly also allows us to focus more time and effort on throwing mega-events like last year’s Golden Gods, the first ever metal awards show in the U.S. , which we plan to not only put on again in 2010 but also make even bigger and badasser.”
Subscribers will get the remaining number of issues of their subsrciption, meaning if they’d subscribed for one year in October, they’ll get nine more issues, which would last them until June of 2011 by our admittedly shoddy math. It’s sad to see such a solid metal magazine cut back, but unlike Metal Edge and Metal Maniacs, the magazine still exists. And another plus is that the magazines will be thicker and have more pages, making each one more of an event.
And speaking of events, they do have the Golden Gods awards, and while Aaron Turner might not be a huge fan, hopefully the festival will get past its first-year jitters, because a metal awards show seems like a great idea, at least in concept. And the more successful the awards show is, the more money they’ll potentially have to sink back into the magazine.
While we reported that Metal Maniacs was relaunching as an online-only entity in September, they’ve gone online a day early. The site, taken over by the owner of digital metal distributor metalhit.com, doesn’t feature any of the original Maniacs writers, but it is a good read. There are interviews with James Malone from Arsis, Frank Watkins from Obituary and Gorgoroth, and Katon D. Pena from Hirax, as well as a free 24-track download featuring plenty of new music. There’s always room for one more metal blog, especially if it’s keeping the Metal Maniacs name alive.
The metal community was sucker-punched back in February when long-running metal magazines Metal Maniacs and Metal Edge were shuttered by their relatively new owner, Zenbu Media. In addition to the history and talented writers that each mag had, both had a distinct point of view.
Now comes word via their website that Maniacs will be returning in September – as a Web Site only. Until then, the teaser site has an MP3 store set up selling underground metal. The closing of the two mags in February were another symptom of the long, slow decline in print journalism, and while sad for everyone involved, couldn’t have come as a total surprise. It’s heartening to know that the brand will live on, even if it’s in blog form only. We’re looking forward to adding the new site to our RSS feed come September.
In Metal Injection’s latest podcast, SiriusXM Satellite Radio metal programmer/personality Jose Mangin revealed that he will continue working with MTV on a series of “Headbangers Ball”-branded specials this year.
On first listen, it sounds like Mangin has also been named the first full-time host of the 24 year-old franchise since Jamey Jasta ended his tenure in 2007, along with a full re-launch of the show in 2010. It’s actually not so clear-cut. The discussion starts at 11 minutes in:
We are re-launching it a new style…nothing will happen on a week to week basis until next year. Some shows will have no host, some host, some bands. It’s going to be in a flux… When there is a host, it will be me.
Metal Insider checked in with Mangin, and he denies any official full-time launch of the show or his place in it. The quote above is in reference to his role as the occasional host when the specials air without a band host or no host at all. He does promise that some plans are in the works for “Headbangers Ball” in 2010, in some incarnation.
Keep checking Metal Insider for updates on this as it develops as well as an exclusive interview with Jose.
UPDATE: Metal Injection extracted and pieced together all the Headbangers Ball discussion in their podcast. It all makes a lot more sense when you hear it at once.