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Ronnie James Dio

Although his trademark tales of "dungeons and dragons" may have single-handedly inspired Spinal Tap (more specifically, Tap's overblown epic "Stonehenge"), Ronnie James Dio was unquestionably one of heavy metal's most talented and instantly identifiable vocalists. Born Ronald James Padavona in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on July 10, 1942, the young Dio started his music career at an early age, playing bass and trumpet for a local band called the Vegas Kings. The band changed names over the years, until the late '60s when the group became the Electric Elves, specializing in rock and folk sounds. By the dawn of the '70s, their name was shortened to simply Elf (with Dio focusing on lead vocals full-time, and changing his name to Ronnie James Dio) and a record deal came their way, with ex-Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover producing. After several releases failed to chart, ex-Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who had just left the Purple and was looking to form a new project, invited most of Elf to join his new outfit, Rainbow.

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