As It Happens

Fire-breathing dragon, garden gnome for sale at Black Sabbath frontman's auction

Fans of Ronnie James Dio could soon own some of the Black Sabbath singer's most prized possessions — 666 items to be exact.

The most metal possessions of Ronnie James Dio, who died in 2010, are going to auction

Wendy Dio and her late husband, Ronnie James Dio. Wendy has put 666 of her late husband's items up for auction. (Submitted by Wendy Dio)

Fans of Ronnie James Dio could soon own some of the Black Sabbath singer's most prized possessions  — 666 items to be exact.

Dio — who replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer of Black Sabbath in 1980 — died in 2010. Now his widow, Wendy Dio, is putting some of his most metal possessions went up for auction. Among them are a dragon head, Freddy Krueger bladed gloves and even a garden gnome. 

The items will go on the block at Julien's Auctions on Sept. 14 and 15, and online bidding is open now. 

Wendy Dio spoke with As It Happens guest host Helen Mann from Los Angeles about her late husband's rock and roll possessions.

Here is part of that conversation. 

Six-hundred and sixty-six items obviously sounds a bit sinister. What are we to make of that?

Well, Ronnie was in Black Sabbath.

So that was deliberate, obviously?

Oh yeah. 

Among the items up for auction are some that one would expect. His beloved guitar, some custom-made flared jeans. But there's also some pretty outlandish stuff, like the animatronic sphinx I'm seeing. Can you describe how that works?

Ah, those are part of our stage sets. So the sphinxes were in The Last In Line stage set done in 1984. 

An approximately 10 ft. animatronics sphinx that was used during the The Last in Line tour as part of the stage set. Wendy Dio said it used to shoot lasers out of its eyes. (Submitted by Julien's Auctions)

And there's also an animatronic dragon head. Was he especially fond of dragons?

This was our big set. We had this humongous stage set in 1986 for the Sacred Heart Tour and that was an 18 ft. fire breathing dragon which Ronnie killed with a laser sword.

We won No. 1 stage of the year over Michael Jackson in 1986 with that stage set.

A giant fire breathing dragon from the 1986 Sacred Heart Tour stage set. (Submitted by Julien's Auctions)

What was the inspiration for all of this? I mean, was it because of designers or was it out of Ronnie's imagination?

No, Ronnie's imagination.

Everything he wrote was always about dungeons and dragons and fantasy and … knights in shining armour.

He wanted everyone to dream and to think of positive things in life, and fighting good versus evil.

And in doing that fighting evil, he had these weapons ... there's this pair of bladed gloves. How did he get his hands on those?

Oh, OK, that was from…[Freddy Krueger] from [A Nightmare on Elm Street].

There's a photo of Freddy Krueger and Ronnie and he gave those those gloves to Ronnie with [A Nightmare on Elm Street] script as well.

Ronnie James Dio's Freddy Kreuger gloves, left, and a script of A Nightmare on Elm Street that was given to him. (Submitted by Julien's Auctions)

Now the auction has already gone up online and there's all these great big spectacular items. But one thing that's getting a lot of attention is a bit simpler sounding. It's a leather bracelet. What's so special about that?

Well, that was Ronnie's favourite bracelet.

He wasn't one to wear expensive jewlery or anything but we found this bracelet in the '80s, I think in San Francisco.

It was a leather bracelet with a black widow [spider], a real black widow, encased in it and he loved that bracelet for some reason. He wore it all the time.

Ronnie James Dio's favourite bracelet, with a real black widow spider inside. (Submitted by Julien's Auctions)

Wow. There's also a garden gnome. What's the story behind the garden gnome?

OK, so we have many garden gnomes in our garden, we still do.

I had been to a flea market and I had found this garden gnome.  

And I had brought it and left it at the office, and I was out of town when Ronnie came to the office and he picked it up and took it home and decided, instead of asking the gardener to place it somewhere, he would place it somewhere.

So he was placing it on the hillside and he tripped, as he did and he went rolling down the hill and so did the gnome...and cut his thumb off.

Which he picked up and drove himself to the hospital and they attached it.

Wendy Dio says her late husband temporarily lost his thumb after this garden gnome chopped it off. (Submitted by Julien's Auctions)

As you said this is so much stuff. But you've noted that the auction has to be bittersweet, right? I mean, there must be things that are hard to part with.

There's a lot of things that are very hard for me to part with. His bass and his amp from Elf days. That is very, very hard for me to part with.

What about the clothing?

A lot of the clothes, because it smells of Ronnie still.

The jeans that he had in Rainbow. He loved those jeans.  

I remember different places that we went to when he wore them, things like that. But what do I do with them? Do I just keep them in the closet or do I let someone enjoy them?

What's precious to you that you're hanging onto?

The Holy Diver album artwork, his trumpet, his teddy bear from his childhood, his little shoes. Things like that.

Written by Sarah Jackson. Produced by Jeanne Armstrong. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 


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