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Ronnie James Dio's favourite bands of all time

Although he was an American, the late Ronnie James Dio was primarily influenced by British groups, and two rock bands spoke to him on a different level, and impact which ultimately made him fall in love with music.

It’s fitting, considering his love of British music, that Dio would fill the void left by Ozzy Osbourne and replace the singer after his departure from Black Sabbath. Additionally, in Rainbow, the rock vocalist was founded by Ritchie Blackmore after he became creatively frustrated with life in Deep Purple, and he longed for a fresh start.

Deep Purple were a group that Dio worshipped during his youth, and it was a dream come true to be bandmates with one of his heroes. In an interview with Let It Rock in 2005, the former Rainbow frontman explained that Purple, alongside Led Zeppelin, were his greatest inspirations.

Dio said: “Those who influenced me were Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. Mainly English bands of that era. But especially Purple and Zeppelin. That’s what made me want to do this more and more, and more. Because the first band I was in back then, ELF, were much more a kind of honky tonk rock ‘n’ roll band.”

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He continued: “But I always wanted to be able to play heavier music. I loved their musicianship – I thought they were the best musicians on Earth! – those were the people I really cared about when I was into this kind of music.”

It’s ironic that Deep Purple were the band that made him want to play music, and he’d later go on to front a group born out of dissent within the band. Furthermore, when Dio named his five favourite songs of all time to Blabbermouth in 2009, he named ‘Smoke On The Water’ and called it “one of the greatest songs of all time”.

Dio added: “Ritchie (Blackmore) wrote a riff that we can all play — so simple, but it is a magnificent riff. I just think it’s one of the ultimate classic songs of all time, and when I hear it, I hark back to that time in my life — it’s important to me.”

Although his love of Led Zeppelin didn’t manifest in the same way as Deep Purple, there are recordings available to listen to of Dio’s earliest outfit, Elf, covering the English rockers. 

As Dio’s career developed, the influence of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin waned as he began to move on to a heavier sound, but his love for both groups remained. They shaped the earlier years of his career and put him on the path toward becoming one of metal’s most beloved figures.

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