Telling his story from schoolboy in the small New York State city of Cortland, to appearing on Texas TV from his hospital bed while undergoing cancer treatment in 2010, this is a largely thorough look at a whole life. Thanks to his long career, a wealth of recorded and largely unseen and heard stuff exists from the early days. In particular, old interview recordings allow Dio to help narrate the film and lift the lid on the events within brilliantly. Meanwhile, figures like Wendy, Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, singing legend Glenn Hughes, Runaways guitarist Lita Ford, and superfans Seb Bach, Jack Black and Nuclear Assault's Dan Lilker offer their own insights and versions of events.
What's delivered is a portrait of a man with a big heart and ambitions. He didn't like to waste time, and he wasn't into doing anything less than what he thought was right. In Rainbow, his mythical and magical style had, along with Ritchie Blackmore's neoclassical slant, helped make them (and rock itself) a far more splendorous proposition than the heavy blues that preceded them. But in search of a hit in America, Dio was out when Since You Been Gone was put on the table. A similarly uncompromising attitude saw him out of Sabbath after two albums, and finally able to call the shots with a band of his own. In this, he almost did himself out of a banger in Rainbow In The Dark, after drummer Vinnie Appice reveals that the boss hated it so much he didn't want to keep it. Fortunately, he was able to be convinced otherwise for once.
The sadness of the end is that, even in his late 60s, Dio was a man still very much in love with and enthused on music and life. Interviewed immediately after stepping offstage at what would be his final ever performance with Sabbath offshoot Heaven & Hell, he's already looking at what's next, because sitting around at home is boring. When he's in hospital, his calmrefusal to be defeated is as inspiring as it is, ultimately, heartbreaking.
Wendy Dio says this film about her late husband has been "made with love, for Ronnie". Even when topics are less than glorious - the parting of ways with original solo band guitarist Vivian Campbell is told of without varnish - this remains true throughout. For many, Dio the metal hero will be a familiar character, but this is also a film about Dio the man, Dio the husband, Dio the dreamer, Dio the well-read thinker, Dio the sage, Dio the guy who simply wouldn't give up on life. In this, he has been done proud.
DIO: Dreamers Never Die is out now