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Hot Knives / Blog

Hot Knives Remembers Ronnie James Dio

One year ago today, we lost Ronnie james Dio, one of the most important and beloved singers in hard rock history. The post below by Hot Knives singer/guitarist Jeff Miller was written in tribute not long after Ronnie's death last year.

Ronnie James Dio and The Keys To The City

On September 17th, 1985 3,100 fans thrilled to the sight of Ronnie James Dio slaying a mechanical dragon onstage at the Syracuse War Memorial. Now, the idea of a diminutive 40-plus-year-old man dressed like he just stepped off the set of Time Bandits dramatically plunging a sword into the throat of a fake dragon that wouldn’t pass muster at a Six Flags may seem silly to you. But we’re talking about a lost era here, before cable TV really got its stranglehold on American culture.

My family had finally gotten a VCR just the year before, and it was roughly the size of my grandmother’s steamer trunk. We still had a PONG game hooked up to a fire hazard of tangled wires that dangled like robot ganglia at the back of our walnut-paneled console TV. The concept of anything even remotely resembling the Internet hadn’t even faintly dawned on rural America – though I’m pretty sure we had a VIC-20 plugged into that same deadly rat’s nest of wires (The pea green shag carpet, installed the previous decade by the previous owners, lay whimpering below, waiting for a single spark from that jumbled cluster to end its wretched, outdated existence).

So, information and entertainment flowed differently back then, especially in my neck of the woods. Less a superhighway and more like an overgrown, rutted tractor path. Without magazines like Hit Parader and Circus, which could be nabbed monthly at the grocery store for about a buck-fifty, my only connection to what was happening in the world of music and media would have been the five or so channels that we could tune in on TV (provided Dad had wrestled our 10-foot antenna into a cooperative position).

But let’s get back to this dragon business.

It might seem silly to you, the image of 14-year-old me, my sweaty, lanky arms pumping madly up and down, the muscles in my hands flexing and straining, pointers and pinkies skyward, rings and middles safely restrained by my determined thumbs. It might seem laughable, the long-haired man onstage, stalking his way up a chrome-plated ramp toward a 30-foot, fire-breathing, animatronic lizard, bellowing operatically into his microphone as he slams his sword home, triggering a shower of sparks and so much pryro that even the kids in the cheap seats feel their skin tighten on their slack-jawed faces. It might seem trite, cliche, overblown, low-budget, and just plain old ridiculous. And it was all of those things.

But it was also fucking AWESOME. And if, like me, you’ve seen Dio slay the dragon, you know what I’m talking about.

Read the rest at Jeff's Blog: http://jmcreative.posterous.com

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