Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio both rose to prominence fronting the legendary heavy metal band Black Sabbath at different times. While both the singers are well regarded, who is the better singer: Dio or Ozzy?
Here’s what I think:
The late Ronnie James Dio is an overall better singer than Ozzy. He has a more powerful voice, a tremendous vocal range, and better technique. However, Ozzy will always be remembered as the true “voice of Black Sabbath.”
Most fans believe that Black Sabbath made the best music with Osbourne at the helm. At the same time, the band’s sonic appeal improved significantly during the Dio era.
In the heavy metal genre, vocals are everything.
On that note, Ozzy appears to take the lead. But I am more curious to learn what impact Ozzy’s exit had on the band. Was Black Sabbath better with Ozzy or Dio?
Let’s dig deeper!
Pick a team! Ozzy Osbourne or Ronnie James Dio?? pic.twitter.com/EVTRwSDnqo
— Rick Mayer (@RickMayer_Vinyl) June 10, 2020
What does Ozzy Osbourne think of Ronnie James Dio?
Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio shared a love/hate relationship, sometimes praising each other and sometimes being verbally aggressive to each other.
Given that Dio replaced Ozzy in 1979 due to the latter’s alcohol addiction, fans assumed there had to be some friction between the Prince of Darkness (Osbourne) and Dio.
Initially, Dio tried being gracious in describing that he could never replace Ozzy, but the later years experienced new dynamics growing in the band. The newly solo Ozzy ridiculed Dio for his music.
In response, Dio called Osbourne an ugly drug addict.
While this tension partly remained because of the differences in opinion and partly because of misunderstandings, Ronnie’s disease ended that.
Two weeks after Dio’s death, Ozzy sat down for an interview with Rolling Stones, where he lamented Ronnie’s passing and said:
“I first knew about Ronnie Dio’s sickness a few months back. I sent him a message, saying if there’s anything we can do to help, please don’t hesitate to call us. I wasn’t a huge friend of Ronnie Dio. I’ve met him a few times over the years. But he was a great, great singer. It’s a terrible loss.”
The two never reconciled while Dio lived.
But they had great respect for each other. Honestly, it’s unfortunate that most fans remember them as warm personalities, but professional rivalry and wrong words got in the way of a great bond they could have shared.
#OnThisDay, 78 years ago…
The late Ronnie James Dio was born. Known for his incredible vocal range, Dio worked with Elf, Rainbow and @BlackSabbath – later fronting his own band.
What’s your favourite Dio vocal performance? pic.twitter.com/cEs7IzFo6O
— Andertons Music Co. (@andertonsmusic) July 10, 2020
What was Ronnie James Dio’s vocal range?
Ronnie James Dio had a 4-octave vocal range (F1-)C♯2-G5(-A6), and he was a low tenor. His range and power came naturally to him, and he did not have formal vocal training.
According to Wikipedia, Ronnie largely attributed his singing ability to the use of breathing techniques he learned while playing the trumpet.
Here are some of Dio’s significant notes:
- C6: The Mob Rules.
- Bb5: Wild One.
- A5/ G5: Gypsy.
- F5: Neon Knights, Stand Up and Shout.
- E5: Black Sheep of the Family, Breathless, Evil Eyes, Great Balls of Fire, Gypsy, Hide in the Rainbow, I Speed at Night.
- Eb5: Bring Down the Rain, Caught in the Middle, Children of the Sea, Holy Driver, King of Rock and Roll.
- C#5: Ain’t It All Amusing, Caught in the Middle, Heaven and Hell, Mistreated.
- E3: Catch the Rainbow, Fear, Feed My Head, Great Balls of Fire I Told You So, Irresistible You, Love Pains.Lord of the Last Day.
- Eb3: After All The Dead, Atom and Evil, Blue Days, Blue Nights, Give Her the Gun, Heaven and Hell.
- D3: An Angel is Missing, Blanche, Catch the Rainbow, The Code, Rainbow Eyes.
- E2: Rock and Roll.
- C#3: Black Sabbath, The Code, Lord of the Last Day.
Ozzy Osbourne – ‘Scream’ (2010)#OzzyOsbourne‘s excellent album full of highly entertaining hard rock songs. Great guitar, exquisite keyboards (by Adam #Wakeman!) and #Ozzy‘s voice in fine form. @Albums2Hear pic.twitter.com/NXcD3FqETc
— Bas Langereis (@balangereis) June 19, 2019
What is Ozzy Osbourne’s vocal range?
Ozzy Osbourne had a vocal range that extended just beyond 3-octaves from E♭2-G5 (D♯2-G5) and was a low tenor.
Vocal range is basically determined by the size of your vocal folds. In simple terms, a musician’s highest and lowest can likewise shift in between singing.
As far as Ozzy’s range is concerned, his unique timbre makes his voice effortless. And even after 40 years of a successful career, many still question his singing abilities.
Ozzy’s voice doesn’t strike particularly on a broader range, but he had a powerful voice that suits his style well and gave Black Sabbath their distinctive sound. The band was credited mainly to exploring different tunings when Ozzy fronted the band.
Ozzy aside, Black Sabbath’s other distinctive trademark was tuning their guitars down.
In a recent article, I got into when they first did that, if they always did that, if they were the first band to do that, and WHY they did that.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
— BLABBERMOUTH.NET (@BLABBERMOUTHNET) April 4, 2021
Did Ozzy sing any Dio songs?
Ozzy Osbourne rejoined Black Sabbath 4 different times following Ronnie James Dio’s tenure in the band, but Ozzy never sang Dio-era songs on those tours. Many fans believed that Ozzy couldn’t do it because he lacked Dio’s range and technique.
But I’m guessing Ozzy’s ego was just as big of an issue with performing Dio songs. In a way, it’s not unlike Van Halen and their 2 primary singers:
David Lee Roth and Sammy Haggar.
While Haggar did sing DLR songs after replacing David Lee Roth, when Roth returned to the band in 2007, did he ever sing “Van Haggar”-era songs? I give you the answer to that, along with the 1 disastrous tour that both singers did simultaneously in a recent article.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
But with Black Sabbath, their material with Dio was totally different, and the band’s sound varies considerably from Ozzy and Dio.
I recall Ozzy’s era more driven towards satanic imagery, which mirrored the audience’s taste, but by the time Dio stepped up, Black Sabbath changed into a somewhat different group.
Zack Wylde says: “Dio and Black Sabbath made some great music, but it wasn’t like Black Sabbath.”
Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi also pointed out this difference in an interview.
And what’s more, thanks to Sharon Osbourne, Black Sabbath entered a contract according to which the band was obligated to only perform songs with Ozzy on the writing credits resonating the idea that without Ozzy, there would be no Black Sabbath- a fan noticed.
Want to know if Ozzy Osbourne is still religious?
Read my recent article to know if the Prince of Darkness is still into satanism (or if he ever was). After all, he pretty much created the gothic imagery. But is it true he’s a regular churchgoer?
Just click that link to read it on my site.
After leaving Black Sabbath in 1982, Ronnie James Dio formed his own namesake w/ Jimmy Bain, Vinny Appice & Vivian Campbell. Released 35 years ago today, Holy Diver served as Dio’s debut. pic.twitter.com/NPwOwrb4jr
— Aaron Conn (@Aaron_Conn) May 25, 2018
Why did Dio leave Sabbath?
Ronnie James Dio left Black Sabbath due to rising conflicts about the “Live Evil” album. During this time, Dio was accused of mixing records in such a way as to show off his vocals.
But did you know Dio left the band two more times after that? Like Ozzy, he came and went a few times. In total, Dio was in and out of the band three times.
Here are complete details:
1982-First exit- First time Dio left the band was in 1982. After The Mob Rules tour ended, the band had a few recordings they were supposed to compile into an album called Live Evil.
A team member accused Dio and drummer Vinny during the mixing sessions, and an argument followed. This resulted in Ronnie leaving the band.
1992-Second exit- Black Sabbath were touring for Dehumanizer with Ronnie, who had just rejoined. On this tour, Osbourne asked Black Sabbath to support his final shows. Ronnie was upset and decided not to join the two shows.
2010- Final exit- Dio finally said his farewell in 2010 when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and the world lost an incredible singer. But technically, from 2006-2010, the band was called Heaven & Hell to distinguish itself from the Ozzy version of Sabbath, which had occasionally reunited.
Heaven & Hell initially was all original Sabbath members except Dio in place of Ozzy.
But over time, drummer Bill Ward was replaced by Vinny Appice. The name comes from the first Sabbath album that Dio sang on, 1980’s Heaven and Hell.
Ronnie James Dio and Ozzy Osbourne’s names can never be separated from Black Sabbath. Both these musicians led this legendary band at one point and took it to critical success.
And while both these men had their contribution in making the band a pivotal component of the heavy metal genre, they significantly differed from each other.
Even though Ozzy and Ronnie never received any formal training, Dio emerged as an established artist in terms of technicality. He had a more extensive range.
However, Ozzy is usually seen as the true face of Black Sabbath.
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