During an appearance on The Eddie Trunk Podcast, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi looked back on Ronnie James Dio joining the band back in 1979 as a replacement for Ozzy Osbourne.
“Well, it was. We took on some of it before we believed in it, and we just went ahead against all the, ‘Oh, you’re never gonna do it,’ and we just played because we enjoyed what we did.
“And when we did that album [‘Heaven and Hell’], we knew we had a good album, a great album, and it was really exciting again to be able to do stuff in a different way, just write with a different person.
“Ronnie was great to work with, to sit down and write; it was a different way compared to working with Ozzy because Ozzy had his way of singing, and we didn’t want to bring somebody else in after Ozzy that sounded like Ozzy.
“We had a couple of people who could do that, who claimed they sounded like Ozzy. I mean, Ozzy’s Ozzy, and that’s it – there’s only one Ozzy.
“Ronnie had such a different vocal, and also he was a musician as well, so you could sort of say, ‘Yeah, we could change that bit,’ and it worked. We showed him stuff and he showed us stuff, it was just a nice combination.
“I remember when we did ‘Die Young,’ I mean, Sabbath was always doing time changes and stuff like that. I remember when we did ‘Die Young’ together and I dropped down to this point when he goes *sings* ‘Die young!’, and he goes, ‘You can’t do that.’
“‘Yeah, you can,’ I said. ‘We’ve done it many times. We do the quiet bit, and then the loud bit.’ And at the end of it, ‘Bloody hell, I really like it.’ And he got into the way we wrote, and we sort of helped each other, you know? It was a good package.”
On meeting Ronnie, he said:
“No. I met Ronnie at a party. We were talking, and it was a funny time for me because I was getting disgruntled with everything because things weren’t happening so well with Oz, and the band was coming through a funny stage in our lives.
“I actually thought of doing something myself, and when I talked to Ronnie, the idea was at first: maybe we can do something together, and then when it came to it, Ozzy went, I called Ronnie and I said, ‘Look, Ozzy’s no longer with us, would you be interested?’
“He said, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ He came over, we sort of did an audition, and we were really happy. We were all happy, it worked really well, and it was a challenge for us because we didn’t know how the fans will accept it, but it was something that we felt was right.
“And I know when we went to Don’s apartment [Don Arden, Sharon Osbourne’s father, and former Black Sabbath manager], ‘Well, about Ronnie…’ And Don’s coming, ‘You can’t have a midget singing in Black Sabbath.’
“I said, ‘Don, it’s just that voice.’ And the way Ronnie sang, he just added another dimension to it that we haven’t had before because with Ozzy, it was great the Ozzy sang to what we were doing then, but when Ronnie came in, we changed the way of writing.
“Oz could sing on riffs, Ronnie didn’t think he would sing on a riff, he would sing on chords. So it was a different way for us too. It was a challenge, but it worked.”