There was no question as to which artist I wanted to feature this week in Bootleg City — one of my all-time favorites, Ronnie James Dio, who died of stomach cancer on May 16. Coming back from a baseball game last Sunday, I checked my phone and saw I had a bunch of messages, mostly from my old Connecticut friends. Basically those messages boiled down to telling me that Dio had passed, along with a question: “Do you remember that Dio show in ’85?”

Of course I remember. Dio’s Sacred Heart Tour is one of the top five most visually exciting things I’ve seen in my lifetime.

It’s been talked about quite a bit this week: the castle stage set, the ten-foot-tall knights in shining armor, the dragon attack (his name was Denzil, in case you were wondering). It was cooler than you can imagine. Just look at the cover of Intermission, the pseudo-live album culled from that tour.

Ronnie James Dio’s music wasn’t a “guilty pleasure” for me. I firmly believe I have nothing to feel guilty about when talking about the man. He was a terrific hard-rock songwriter who surrounded himself with stellar musicians and put on a fucking awesome show every time out.

Enough has been said about the man on Popdose this week that I really have nothing to add, other than to present you with a bunch of live Dio tracks from various phases of his career, featuring drum solos, blues jams, and other musical tidbits, all of it surrounded by one of the most powerful voices in rock history.

I can’t remember the last time I saw him in concert, nor can I remember the last time I put on a Dio CD just for the hell of it, but listening to all these bootlegs this week, I quickly remembered why going to a Dio show was something to look forward to, and why the memories of those shows would be everlasting.

Farewell, Ronnie James Dio. You will be missed.

If you haven’t overloaded on Dio yet, here are a few bonus videos for you. First up is Ronnie James joining Deep Purple and the London Symphony Orchestra to perform “Smoke on the Water”; I would have liked to hear his take on “Child in Time” or even “When a Blind Man Cries,” but alas, it wasn’t meant to be:

He also showed up as a guest vocalist on Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime II:

And be sure to check out the Elf stuff posted earlier in the week, especially the unreleased songs. You won’t be disappointed.

RAINBOW

Osaka, Japan: 1/17/78
Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
Man on the Silver Mountain
Blues
Starstruck
Man on the Silver Mountain [Reprise]

BLACK SABBATH

Tokyo: 11/18/80
Neon Knights
Lady Evil

Osaka: 11/21/80
Die Young

Chicago: 12/21/81
Country Girl
Slipping Away

Boston: 8/9/92
The Mob Rules
Computer God
Children of the Sea

DIO

Spokane, Washington: 7/24/84
Mystery
Don’t Talk to Strangers
Rainbow in the Dark

London: 12/5/87
Naked in the Rain
The Last in Line
Holy Diver
All the Fools Sailed Away

Stuttgart, Germany: 9/15/02
Killing the Dragon
Egypt (The Chains Are On)
Rock & Roll
Fever Dreams
The Last in Line

Sweden Rock Festival: 6/11/05
Stargazer
Sunset Superman
Shivers
Gates of Babylon

HEAVEN & HELL

Sweden Rock Festival: 6/7/07
The Sign of the Southern Cross
Shadow of the Wind
Heaven and Hell