May 27, 2010

In Memoriam: Ronald Padavona 1942-2010

It's taken me more than 10 days to gather my thoughts and reflect on what happened that Sunday morning, May 16, 2010, when i lazily woke up, turned on the computer and went online to check out some interesting news, instead finding the worst possible one:

[Wendy Dio, wife/manager of legendary heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio (DIO, HEAVEN & HELL, BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW), has released the following statement:
"Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45 a.m. [on Sunday] 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away. "Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. "We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. "Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. "Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever." ]

It probably took me a minute to digest what I had just read. I wasn't sitting down when I read it, and I slowly dropped to my knees. My stomach, weak with hunger (I hadn't had breakfast yet) was now overcome with a worse feeling of emptiness...

I learned about him by accident, in 2005. I listened to a great cover of Rainbow's 'Stargazer' without knowing it was a cover. I kept listening to that version (by Argentina's Adrian Barilari, also from Rata Blanca) for a whole week until I noticed two names in the booklet's credits: (R. Blackmore - R. Dio). That's how I started my journey into the great, magical world of Ronnie James Dio. After Rainbow, I set out to find out more about the man with the powerful voice, and I got hold of one of his solo band's most regular efforts: 1994's Strange Highways. I consider this album an oddity, not having a single song that can be called a single (except maybe Jesus, Mary & the Holy Ghost or Here's to You), but on the other hand, it doesn't have a bad or 'filler' song (ok, maybe Pain.) I always wondered when would I have the chance to see this man live, but circumstances made it impossible for me to do so, just like so many other artists I never had the chance to enjoy in concert. So from that year on (2005, not 1994), I have followed faithfully his every move and was overwhelmed by the success of Heaven & Hell. He was one of only 3 metal singers (next to King Diamond and Phil Anselmo) I have followed through their main bands, side projects and solo efforts. He felt like family, like I knew him since he sang 'Stargazer' on that Rainbow album, all those many years ago. So yes, what I read on the black sabbath -May 16- hurt even more so.

Me, being a 2D animator without an animation, set out a few months ago to make a short animated clip, and of course it had to be about one of the things I love in life, music. I was doing some characters and was deciding on the style I was gonna use (If you want to know, it was about Alice in Chains, an idea for a music video I had for a few years) when I read about Ronnie's health problems. You know what I did? I stopped production on the AIC vid and started on a brand new animation about the small man with the giant voice, my friend Ronnie! I even wrote him a couple months ago, telling him about it. I really wanted to have it finished sooner, but between work, other projects, and trying to do it all by myself, it was just impossible. Still, I 'm not gonna stop until I finish it, even if it takes me years to do it. So far I have everything done in pencils, now I need to transfer it to the computer to begin animating. Of course, that's the tough part, so who knows how long it might take me...

We all knew this was coming. We still didn't want to picture it. We wanted to believe that stomach cancer was like a bad flu, a bad thing but something that always had a way to best it. We lied to ourselves with hope. And I always thought that when the moment came, I would cry. Cry like when I found out my grandfather had passed away, cry like when I listened to 'Cemetery Gates' a few minutes after reading the horrifying news about Dimebag's death.

But I didn't cry. I couldn't.

More than ten days later, I finally understand why I couldn't weep for Ronnie James Dio. Unlike my grandfather, who was the first family member I ever knew that died; and unlike Dime who was taken from us so shocking and unexpectedly. Ronnie left us in a state of peace, after doing so much with his life. Just look at his life's achievements and you'll see what I mean. He was part of some of the best rock bands of another generation. He was THE voice of heavy metal. He did it all with great energy and creativity, he inspired millions, he touched them with his magic, and he led a righteous life. You can't ask for more out of anyone.

I lost count of the amount of articles about musicians dedicating kind, heartfelt words to the man, remembering him and telling the world he was one of the reasons they decided to play heavy music. Thank you Ronnie, thanks for everything you did, your words and your music will live on, I know you're in a better place now; know that everyone back here have nothing but appreciation for you and what you did while you were with us.

Maybe I'll finally meet you on the other side, if there is one...

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