Two years ago today, the heavy metal community and the world in general lost a once-in-a-lifetime vocal talent when Black Sabbath/Rainbow and Dio frontman Ronald James Padavona, more commonly known as Ronnie James Dio, passed away after a six-month battle with stomach cancer. To pay tribute, and remember the loss, here are a handful of video clips from the career of this metal legend. Though Dio may have passed, he left us with a catalog of dozens of timeless metal anthems that will live on forever.
John Sykes - Biography
John James Sykes is a well-known English rock guitarist famous for his work in Whitesnake, Blue Murder, Thin Lizzy and Tygers of Pan Tang. Sykes was born July 29, 1959. He joined the band Tygers of Pan Tang in 1980, releasing the album “Spellbound” the following year. He would go on to record another album, “Crazy Nights,” released in 1982, and participated on two tracks for the band's fourth album, “The Cage,” before leaving the band to audition for Ozzy Osbourne's band after the death of Randy Rhoads.
Upon failing to get the gig with Osbourne, Sykes was recruited by former Uriah Heep frontman John Sloman for a new band called Badlands. The project would be short-lived, never releasing any music officially, although a number of bootlegs of rehearsals do exist. Later that year, at the age of 23, Sykes was invited to join Thin Lizzy by the band's frontman Phil Lynott. He participated in the recording of the band's final studio album, “Thunder and Lightning,” which included the Sykes-written track, “Cold Sweat.” It would be the first evidence of Syke's tremendous songwriting ability, which would be revered later in his career.
Sykes toured with Thin Lizzy through the fall of 1983 to promote “Thunder and Lightning.” The band recorded several performances from the tour which would be used to put together a live album called “Life.” The album would be the band's last, as they disbanded immediately after the tour.
During Sykes' time with Thin Lizzy, he caught the attention of Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale, who invited him to join the band after the European release of their 1984 album, “Slide It In.” Sykes re-recorded some guitar parts for the album's US release, and toured in support of the album. Sykes would co-write the majority of the tracks for Whitesnake's 1987 self-titled album, laying down the guitar tracks and recording most of the backing vocal tracks.
The album would make a name for Sykes as a songwriter, but Coverdale fired the entire band before the album was released, citing matters of ego. Adrian Vandenberg was brought in to replace Sykes, and re-recorded the solo for “Here I Go Again,” the only guitar part on the album that isn't Sykes. “Whitesnake” would go on to become the band's most successful album, reaching #2 on the Billboard albums chart, which was simply unheard of for a hard rock album at the time. The album sold more than 8 million copies in the US alone, and produced several hits which Sykes had co-written.
After being dismissed from Whitesnake, Sykes went on to form Blue Murder with former Cactus / Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice and Tony Franklin, who played bass in The Firm. The band recorded a demo with Ray Gillen (Black Sabbath and later a different Badlands), but an executive at the band's label convinced Sykes to dismiss Gillen and handle the vocals himself. The band enjoyed moderate success with it's self-titled debut album, but the 1993 follow-up, “Nothin' But Trouble” was not received well and the band would break up after two albums and a live release.
After Blue Murder, Sykes began recording and touring under his own name, releasing the albums “Out of My Tree” in 1995, “Loveland” and “20th Century” in 1997, and “Nuclear Cowboy” in 2000. In 2004 Sykes released the live album “Bad Boy Live!,” in which Sykes covered a number of the greatest hits from all of his bands and solo material. None of Sykes' solo releases enjoyed a great amount of commercial success, though critics lauded his work.
In 1996, Sykes would reform Thin Lizzy with Scott Gorham, Brian Downey and Darren Wahrton. In addition to handling guitar duty, Sykes also handled the vocals as the band's singer Phil Lynott passed away years earlier. The band has toured off and on ever since, releasing a live album called “One Night Only” in 2000. In July 2009, Sykes left Thin Lizzy, saying he wanted to get back to playing his own music.
Born July 15th, 1956 in Westbury, New York, Joseph “Joe” Satriani is an Italian American rock guitarist who has been nominated for Grammy Awards throughout his career, though he has never won. Before achieving success as a recording artist, Satriani worked as a guitar instructor, helping to develop the styles of a number of guitarists who would go on to achieve success.
Gary Wayne Holt was born May 4th, 1964 in Richmond California. While not a founding member, Holt is the lone musician who has appeared on every one of the thirteen albums released by the San Francisco thrash band Exodus. In 2011, Holt was asked by fellow Bay Area thrashers Slayer to fill in at guitar for Jeff Hanemann, and performed with the band during its five-date Australian Soundwave Festival tour as well as the band's set at the Big 4 Concert in Indio, California on April 23rd.
Richard Hugh Blackmore, known as Ritchie throughout his professional career, is an English rock guitarist born April 14th, 1945 in Weston-super-Mare, England. Blackmore is known for his work in Deep Purple, as well as founding Rainbow, and is considered among the most influential rock guitarists of all time. Blackmore's family moved to Heston, Middlesex, England shortly after he was born. His father gave him his first guitar when he was eleven, stipulating that Ritchie take classical guitar lessons, which he did for about a year.
Kenneth Keith “K.K.” Downing is a guitarist and founding member of the legendary heavy metal band, Judas Priest. Born October 27th, 1951 in West Bromwich, England, Downing dropped out of high school at the age of 15 and, showing very little ambition, was kicked out of his parents' home about a year later. It was shortly after this that, inspired by guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, K.K. bought his first guitar. Downing never received much support for his career path from his parents, even after Judas Priest achieved global success.
Vivian Patrick Campbell is an Irish rock guitarist who is currently a member of the band Def Leppard, and as of may, 2010, also a member of the reunited Thin Lizzy. Campbell has also been a part of Whitesnake, Sweet Savage, Trinity, Riverdogs, and Shadow King after first rising to prominence as the original guitarist for Dio. He also played lead guitar for the second solo album from Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm.
Michael Schenker is a German rock guitarist best known for his tenure in UFO, along with a long career performing with his solo band. He first rose to prominence as a founding member, along with his brother Rudolph, of the hugely successful band, The Scorpions. He then founded the band UFO in the mid 70s before going on to lead the Michael Schenker Group in a number of different incarnations. Schenker is considered by many a legendary figure in the history of heavy metal guitar.
Buckethead, real name Brian Carroll, was born May 13th, 1969. He is a very accomplished guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and recording artist. As 2010 Buckethead had released 29 solo albums, 4 special releases, and an EP. In addition, he has performed on more than 50 albums by other artists including Iggy Pop, Primus' Les Claypool, Serj Tankian, Faith No More's Mike Patton, and Bootsy Collins. He was also a member of the popular hard rock band, Guns N' Roses from 2000 to 2004, playing on their album, “Chinese Democracy.” Buckethead's persona represents a character who was "raised by chickens" and has made it his "mission in life to alert the world to the ongoing chicken holocaust in fast-food joints around the globe."
Geoffrey Arnold "Jeff" Beck is a English rock guitarist, and one of three noted guitarists, along with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, to have played with the band The Yardbirds. Beck also formed the Jeff Beck Group, Beck, Bogert, & Appice, and has had a successful solo career.