I’ve never been the biggest fan of Ronnie James Dio. I’m not much into heavy metal music and in high school, I hated the stoner kids that all wore Iron Maiden or Dio shirts. In fact, Rolling Stone magazine once posted a story about how Iron Maiden at one time, had sold more T-shirts than record albums.
For those that don’t know, Dio replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. He also had a rather successful solo career, as well as fronting the hard rockers Rainbow.
In regards to autographs, I know two people that got his signature. One said he was a bit rude at first, but signed a few of his albums. The other guy had a unique way of getting autographs. He’d show up at the venues really early, and offer to help out. He’d unload gear out of the trucks or do whatever was asked. Usually, the tour manager would score him tickets to the show, and he’d hand them 5 or 6 albums to have signed. Dio signed all his albums and was really nice to him. He eventually sold those (and other records) to me, years later when he was having financial problems and was moving out of town. Hey...I’m not a fan, but I won’t turn down a great deal on an autograph I know is authentic.
I think my favorite thing about Dio is the funny song Tenacious D (the fake heavy metal band Jack Black is in) sang about him.
Dio died of stomach cancer in 2010, at the age of 67. His widow Wendy just took a lot of his belongings and auctioned them off with Julien’s last week.
She was clever in the fact that she auctioned off -- 666 different things from his personal collection (get it?). That included guitars, stage props, swords, and medieval art. As an autograph collector, I always think about the items that are signed, like his 1993 passport and a driver’s license. In this auction, the item I would’ve loved to have gotten was a letter from George Harrison, asking Dio for an autograph (I have to assume it was for his son Dhani and not himself).
I did find it odd that his widow (and former manager) said that she had to contemplate what to do with these things, and decided the fans would enjoy them most. Come on. You’re making money, and hey...nothing wrong with that. Heck, as I’m writing this blog tonight, I just heard a Prince song in a commercial, followed by a spot with Michael Jackson. My wife said, “Is it harder, or easier, to get a popular song in a commercial once the singer is dead?” I laughed and said, “Obviously, easier...as you can hear. The estate doesn’t have any qualms about making money, by selling the song to advertisers.”
One of the selling points at this auction -- Wendy said some of the shirts still “smell of him.”
Hmmmm. I think I’d wash them before hanging it up on the wall.
Speaking of shirts, Wendy said there was a signed jersey of Wayne Gretzky that she almost threw away. She wondered why he had a shirt that was way too large. It was ready to be tossed, and he found it just in time. She said, “I almost got killed for that one!”
It’s always fun when you find out celebrities also collected things. In Dio’s collection, it wasn’t just swords and goblets. He had an extensive collection of sports memorabilia, including a lot of signed baseballs (one by Mickey Mantle) and jerseys. Fun fact: his favorite team was the New York Giants. I would’ve had him pegged as a fan of the New Jersey Devils. I mean...he’s a metal head.