Top 5 Most Outrageous Facts About Ronnie James Dio
July 10th, 2014 at 2:15pm

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Seventy-two years ago today, the late, great Ronnie James Dio was born. He was taken from us way too soon, but the peerless vocalist’s legacy will live forever.

While Dio is remembered as one of rock’s great gentlemen, someone who was always there for his fans and gave everything he could to them, the man was not without his surprises. Here, in celebration of the singer’s life and times, are the 5 most outrageous facts about him.

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1. DIO NAMED HIMSELF AFTER A MOBSTER
Born Ronald James Padavona, the singer renamed himself in the ’60s after infamous mafia member Johnny Dio.

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2. DIO WANTED TO BE A BASKETBALL PLAYER
Ronnie James Dio loved sports. He would often watch games while writing music. But he wanted to do more than watch. According to his widow Wendy, the 5′ 4″ singer always dreamed of being a basketball player. Side note: At 5’4″, Dio was the same height as Glenn Danzig and just two inches shorter than Bruce Dickinson.

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3. DIO LOST A THUMB TO A GARDEN GNOME
In 2003, Dio was working in his yard, trying to place a large garden gnome on a slope. The gnome toppled over and crushed the metal vocalist’s hand, taking off the tip of his thumb. Dio later recalled that his first thought was, “How on earth am I going to make my devil horn sign now?!” Being a badass, he collected the disembodied appendage, took it inside, washed it off, and then headed to the emergency room, where–to the relief of metal horns-enthusiasts everywhere–it was reattached.

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4. DIO COULD HAVE BEEN A FAMOUS TRUMPET PLAYER
Ronnie’s only formal musical training were trumpet lessons, which began at age 5. He got so good at the horn instrument that he was offered a scholarship to the prestigious Juilliard School of Music. He turned it down to focus on rock and roll, though he always credited his vocal prowess to the correct breathing techniques he picked up while playing trumpet.

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5. DIO HATED “RAINBOW IN THE DARK”
Holy Diver‘s second single, the classic “Rainbow In The Dark,” was in Dio’s opinion way too “poppy.” In fact, he disliked the song so much that he didn’t want it to be included in the album, so he tried to destroy the tape with a razor. Fortunately, the rest of the band stopped him in time!

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