"Horns at half mast," laments Anthrax's Scott Ian, speaking of the death of Heavy Metal Icon Ronnie James Dio, who passed away Sunday after a battle with stomach cancer. The metal world mourns the legend of diminutive stature and megalithic voice and so, too, do I.
Roughly 11 years ago (give or take), I was coming home from a friend's house after a night of beer drinking and hell raising. I shouldn't have been driving, undoubtedly, but I was young and stupid. What was I at that point? 26, I guess. Time flies...
Anyway, I had recently purchased an engagement ring for my girlfriend at the time, but I hadn't yet proposed. I was driving home in my 1997 Chevy Cavalier to our cramped, one bedroom apartment that was barely big enough for one of us, much less both of us. I don't know how we managed, but somehow we made due.
I was tired and I was listening to the radio to stay awake. I had it tuned to 94.1 JJO -- a Madison, Wisconsin radio station that had adopted a metal format in the past year. The DJ said it was time to play a classic from the Sunset Superman and suddenly "Rainbow in the Dark" was coming out of the speakers.
I cranked the radio and banged my head, holding a cigarette in one hand and making devil horns with the other. I was suddenly wide awake and flush with adrenaline. I was psyched up by the power of metal and I was glad to be alive!
Suddenly, it hit me. The time was right. I needed to go home and propose...right fucking now. "Rainbow in the Dark" had inspired me to charge forward with my life!
Here I was, coming home at some obscene hour - drunk - down on one knee. I asked my girlfriend to marry me. I don't know why she said yes, but she did. Probably to get me to shut the fuck up and go to sleep so she could get up and work in a few hours. =)
That wasn't the first time Ronnie James Dio had inspired me with his music to feel alive and do something bold or crazy with my life. And now, despite his passing, I can assure you it won't be the last.
Rest in peace, my metal friend. Your legend is forever!