Holy Diver – Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio was an American heavy metal vocalist and songwriter. He performed with Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, and his own band Dio. Other musical projects include the collective fundraiser Hear ‘n Aid. He was widely hailed as one of the most powerful singers in heavy metal, renowned for his consistently powerful voice and for popularizing the “devil’s horns” hand gesture in metal culture. He was collaborating on a project with former Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice, under the moniker Heaven & Hell, whose first and only studio album, The Devil You Know, was released on April 28, 2009.   He died of stomach cancer on May 16, 2010.

Dio’s musical career began in 1957 when several Cortland, New York musicians formed the band The Vegas Kings, which soon changed their name to Ronnie and the Rumblers. This band’s lineup had Padavona on the bass guitar, along with singer Billy DeWolfe, guitarist Nick Pantas, drummer Tom Rogers, and saxophone player Jack Musci.

In 1958, the band again changed their name, along with a few changes of personnel. The band was now known as Ronnie and the Redcaps. At this point, Padavona began singing, replacing de Wolf. Musci also left the band, and a new guitarist, Dick Botoff, joined. The Redcaps lineup released two singles: “Lover” b/w “Conquest” (with De Wolf on vocals on the A-side) on the Reb label, and on Seneca (S 178-102, USA), ‘An Angel Is Missing’ with ‘What’d I Say’ on the B side (both songs featuring Padavona on vocals).

In 1961, they changed their name to Ronnie Dio and The Prophets. The Prophets lineup lasted for quite a long time and produced several singles and one album. Some sources state that some of the single releases were made by Ronnie James Dio solo, but others, such as Dio himself, state that all of the singles were made as a band.

Padavona took up the name “Dio” after mafia member Johnny Dio,  and first used it professionally in 1961, when he added it to the band’s second release on Seneca. Soon after that the band changed their name to Ronnie Dio and the Prophets. The group released several singles during the following years, until 1967.

Ronnie Dio and the Prophets disbanded in 1967, but he and Prophets guitarist Nick Pantas started a new band called the Electric Elves. They shortened their name to Elf in 1969, and went on to become an opening act for Deep Purple. Dio’s vocals caught the ear of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and when Blackmore left the band, he recruited Dio and other members of Elf to form Rainbow. Rainbow released its first album in 1975. Dio recorded three more albums with Rainbow, but he left the band due to creative differences: Blackmore had wanted to take the band in a more commercial direction.

Dio performed vocals on the 1974 UK single “Love is All” taken from Roger Glover’s concept album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast. Dio also provided vocals for the songs “Homeward” and “Sitting in a Dream” on the album which also featured Deep Purple alumni Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale.

In 1979, after leaving Rainbow, Dio joined Black Sabbath, replacing Ozzy Osbourne. They released the successful Heaven and Hell album, which revitalized the band’s career. Along with Gene Simmons of KISS, Dio helped popularize the “devil’s horns” gesture.  Dio says that his grandmother used to make the hand gesture to ward off the evil eye, which is very common among superstitious Southern Italians. The “horns,” or “Corna,” themselves are used both to scare away and give someone the “Malocchio” (the Evil Eye). Ronnie James Dio is not the first to use the “horns sign”. The band Coven used it on all their record albums and on stage as well going back to 1968. Parliament-Funkadelic also used the “horns sign” regularly, as seen in many promo shots, album art work and concerts in the 1970s. In 1992, Dio briefly returned to Black Sabbath to record Dehumanizer.

Dio’s career spanned six decades, from 1957 to 2010, and became known as one of the most powerful and unique voices in rock music, despite standing only 5 feet 4 inches, after performing with bands such as Rainbow, Black Sabbath and his own band Dio.

Holy Diver

Holy Diver” is the first single released by heavy metal band Dio, appearing on the band’s 1983 LP, Holy Diver.

When played on the radio, many stations cut the extended instrumental intro sequence.

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the song was placed on the list of post-9/11 inappropriate titles distributed by Clear Channel.


Holy Diver
You’ve been down too long in the midnight sea
Oh what’s becoming of me

Ride the tiger
You can see his stripes but you know he’s clean
Oh don’t you see what I mean

Gotta get away
Holy Diver

Shiny diamonds
Like the eyes of a cat in the black and blue
Something is coming for you

Race for the morning
You can hide in the sun ’till you see the light
Oh we will pray it’s all right

Gotta get away-get away

Between the velvet lies
There’s a truth that’s hard as steel
The vision never dies
Life’s a never ending wheel

Holy Diver
You’re the star of the masquerade
No need to look so afraid

Jump on the tiger
You can feel his heart but you know he’s mean
Some light can never be seen

[Repeat verse 1]

Gotta get away
Get away
Gotta get away
Get away yeah

holy diver
soul survivor
your armours clean

holy diver

  • Audio from the 1983 album, Holy Diver:


About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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