When Ronnie James Dio played his original last Black Sabbath show

Ronnie James Dio managed Black Sabbath away from the brink of self-destruction as he replaced the dispossessed Ozzy Osbourne in 1979. But just three years and two beloved albums later, he would sing his (first) last note with Black Sabbath on Aug. 31, 1982, at the Poplar Creek Music Theater in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Black Sabbath were on life support in the late ’70s after their last two albums, 1976’s Technical Ecstasy and the 1978s Never say die!, flatlined critically and commercially. Not that guitarist Tony Iommibassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward had a great capacity for caring, so consumed were they with addiction, depression and other personal problems. With their singer gone and their commercial prospects decimated, Black Sabbath seemed completely unfit for the next decade.

Enter Dio, who came after a successful but short-lived and filled up Ritchie Blackmore‘s Rainbowwho produced a rock-cold metal classic in the 1976s Increasing. Dio and Iommi met in 1979 at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Los Angeles, fittingly enough. A jam session quickly followed and gave birth to the epic “Children of the Sea” which was released in the 1980’s Heaven and hellthe first full-length effort from the revitalized Black Sabbath Mark II.

Suddenly Dio had a new job and Black Sabbath had a new life. Heaven and hell was a platinum-selling, career-rejuvenating masterpiece that cracked the US Top 30 and put the band back in front of arena-sized audiences. Its 1981 sequel Mob ruleswhich offered a young Vinny Appice behind the kit in place of the recently fired Ward, performed similarly well. But soon the cracks in Black Sabbath’s world-conquering veneer began to show again.

Listen to Black Sabbath’s ‘Heaven and Hell’

Friction arose between Iommi and Dio, the band’s two creative principles. The guitarist previously reveled in his new bandmate’s musical input and perfected workaholism, which stood in stark contrast to Osbourne’s drugged-out layabout demeanor. But he and Butler grew to resent Dio for what they perceived as his efforts to usurp them as Black Sabbath’s de facto leaders. Dio, meanwhile, found himself increasingly estranged from Iommi, who became more withdrawn and unpleasant as his cocaine habit grew.

The dysfunction reached a boiling point when Black Sabbath began work on the 1982s Live evilwhich is collected from several performances on Mob rules trip. Iommi and Butler accused Dio of sneaking into the studio at night to remix the LP behind their backs, boosting his vocals and Appice’s drums and lowering the guitar and bass – a charge Appice denied in Mick Wall’s band biography Symptom of the universe.

“What happened was that they booked the studio for 2 o’clock. But [Iommi and Butler] wouldn’t get there until 4 or 5 and this was an expensive studio,” Appice explained. “Me and Ronnie would be there at 2. I had no say in this, I just came in when they wanted me in. . But Ronnie wanted to do some work, so he wanted to start doing what needed to be done, and they took it when Ronnie snuck into the studio and did things behind their backs.”

Eventually the cold war within the band became too much to bear. “Something had come up, and it was the whole avoidance of confrontation thing that Geezer and Tony specialize in,” Dio said in Symptom of the universe. “Eventually Geezer calls me and says, ‘I don’t think this is going to work. We really want Tony to produce the album on his own.’ Now I know that kind of cryptic talk, so I’m like, ‘So if you don’t want me involved in this album, are you saying it’s over?’ And Geezer says, ‘Well, uh… yeah, I guess so.’ They could never just tell you. It was all a device to force me out.”

As a parting shot, Iommi and Butler shortened the singer’s name to “Ronnie Dio”, which he hated, in the credits of Live evil. Dio later dismissed the LP as “a piece of shit”, but the tough conditions know Live evil believe the fact that Black Sabbath was firing on all cylinders at Mob rules trip.

Audio from the tour’s final stop shows Black Sabbath at the peak of his powers, running through a 90-minute set of classics from both the Osbourne and Dio eras, including “Neon Knights,” War Pigs, “Heaven and Hell, ” “Mob Rules,” “Paranoid” and the title “Black Sabbath.” Iommi alternates between doom-filled riffs and blistering solos, while Dio effortlessly sells the megawatt intensity of his material and the theatrical, slow-burn thrills of Ozzy tracks Butler and Appice show their ability to both pulverize and swing, holding down the fort with muscular grooves and flexible fillings.

Hear Ronnie James Dio’s first and last show with Black Sabbath

Unfortunately, the chemistry on stage wasn’t enough for the band members to overcome their differences off stage. Dio left Black Sabbath in late 1982 with Appice in tow and went on to form a eponymous band whose debut in 1983, Holy diver, became a career-defining classic and a cornerstone of heavy metal. Black Sabbath, meanwhile, would welcome a rotating group of singers throughout the rest of the decade to diminishing returns.

Dio would return a few more times over the following decades, first on Black Sabbath’s 1992 album Dehumanize and later as the renamed Himmel og Helvede, which was formed in 2006. They published The devil you know in 2009 and continued until Dio died in 2010.

It was a heartening reconciliation for a band Dio was always proud of. He told Wall that he was “filled with both optimism for my new band and sadness about what had just happened” after his initial exit from Black Sabbath. “I wasn’t satisfied with the way everything ended, but I could feel proud of what I had achieved… I gave as much to Sabbath as Sabbath gave to me, probably more.”

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