Back in 2010 I wrote a piece for the Portsmouth Herald arguing the picturesque New Hampshire seacoast town should consider honoring its most famous fallen heavy metal son:
I live in Philadelphia where the Betsy Ross House — in which Ross, who probably didn’t sew the first American flag, may not have actually lived — is considered a national landmark, yet my former home of Portsmouth boasts not so much as a plaque trumpeting it as the irrefutable birthplace of Ronnie James Dio, the Black Sabbath/Rainbow/Dio frontman who not only penned such timeless anthems as “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Neon Knights,” but also popularized the iconic “devil’s horns” as heavy metaldom’s official salute.
Dio’s death Sunday at 67, from stomach cancer, offers a perfect opportunity to rectify the embarrassing oversight. I note Cortland, N.Y., where Dio — then Ronald James Padavona — attended high school, christened a Dio Way in 1988, and ask: Does the Port City really want to be shown up by some upstate town?
Nearly six years later the local arts advocacy group Keep Portsmouth Loud bellows back a resounding “No!” via a petition to build a crowd-sourced Dio statue in the town’s beautiful Prescott Park. And the tribute they’re planning sounds absolutely fucking amazing…
Preferably there would be a water feature on this memorialization considering our strong maritime tradition. We believe it should be constructed of metal (naturally). We would defer to the artists for all decisions, of course, and we are open to discussion.
We would love to see him him to be depicted as he was in the video for “Holy Diver,” sword in hand, ready to fight for the Arts and what is right. We understand this might not coincide with the wishes of all, so we will of course work with the estate of Mr. Dio to determine how they would like him depicted.
Please consider signing. Throw up some horns with your other hand when you do.
The group plans to deliver the petition to City Hall when it reaches 5000 signatures. Currently it is just a hair under 4000. Go here to help actualize a long overdue recognition of perhaps the greatest heavy metal vocalist of all time.