Rumors went around this morning of the death of revered heavy metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio, but were quickly put to rest by his wife Wendy, reporting that he was struggling but still alive; but now further reports say that Dio has indeed departed this mortal coil.

Ronnie James Dio is best known for having replaced Ozzy Osbourne in the band widely regarded as the fathers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath, revitalizing said group through a successful string of albums, then for his very next band Dio, which produced some of the iconic heavy metal songs of the 1980s, including “Rainbow In The Dark” and “Holy Diver,” and also for popularizing the “devil horns” hand gesture that became a universal symbol of rock and roll. Recent years had seen the 50th anniversary of Dio’s recording debut singing and playing trumpet on the 1958 “Lover”/”Conquest” single by Ronnie & the Redcaps, and Dio reuniting with his Black Sabbath lineup under the name Heaven & Hell, releasing the critically acclaimed album The Devil You Know in 2009.

Ronnie James Dio, one of the all time great voices of rock music, ending a distinguished 50+ year career, gone at 67.

update: While pretty much everybody on the Web has chimed in on this subject, the best tribute and thorough account of Dio’s career I’ve seen yet is over at Pop Matters, go check it out.

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