Ronnie James Dio remembered in L.A.

A huge funeral for fiery frontman Ronnie James Dio in Los Angeles was more akin to a spirited rock concert than a dreary funeral.
The casket of heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio is displayed during a public memorial service in Los Angeles on Sunday. Dio died on May 2010 from stomach cancer. ((Jason Redmond/Associated Press))

A huge funeral for fiery frontman Ronnie James Dio in Los Angeles was more akin to a spirited rock concert than a dreary funeral.

With chants of "Dio, Dio, Dio," headbangers were loud and proud Sunday as they paid tribute to the late metal legend.

Dio — a vocalist from such bands as Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and the self-titled Dio — died from stomach cancer on May 16 at age 67.

More than 1,200 fans commemorated Dio inside Forest Lawn Memorial Park's Hall of Liberty and hundreds more gathered in the scorching heat outside to watch monitors of the proceedings.

The ceremony includes performances by some of Dio's rocker friends, including Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, Geoff Tate of Queensryche and Paul Shortino of Quiet Riot. 

Dio revealed last summer that he was suffering from stomach cancer shortly after wrapping up a tour in Atlantic City, N.J., with the latest incarnation of Black Sabbath under the name Heaven and Hell.

"He touched all of us with his music and his message and his magic," said David Feinstein, Dio's cousin and Elf bandmate. 

'Great appreciation for your loyalty'

"I know that Ronnie truly loved all of you. He had a great appreciation for your loyalty. I'm talking about all you out there, all the fans."

Many recalled Dio's continued support over the years of Children of the Night, the teenage prostitution rehabilitation organization where his wife, Wendy, serves as chairman.

Several musician friends of Dio celebrated the rocker by performing tunes that featured Dio's signature howl.

Scott Warren of Heaven and Hell began the memorial with an arrangement of Dio's This is Your Life on piano. John Payne of Asia crooned Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell. Joey Belladonna of Anthrax wailed Rainbow's Man On The Silver Mountain.

"He had that magic," remembered Willie Fyfe, Dio's longtime personal assistant.

"He always called it magic. Once he had a crowd in his hands, that's where they stayed until it was time to go, then he'd give them back, and walk off and do his thing. Bless him. He's still doing that now, and the guy is in a coffin."