WENDY DIO Details RONNIE JAMES DIO's Final Days: 'I Didn't Think He Was Gonna Die'

March 29, 2021

Ronnie James Dio's former wife and longtime manager Wendy Dio has reflected on the legendary heavy metal singer's passing, saying she thought he was going to beat cancer.

Ronnie lost his life to stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, in May 2010. The disease often does not cause symptoms until its later stages. Usually, by the time stomach cancer is diagnosed, the prognosis is poor.

The musician, who was suffering from abdominal discomfort saw a doctor in the winter of 2009, and after a series of tests, he was diagnosed with cancer.

"We were told it was stage four cancer, but we didn't believe that Ronnie wouldn't make it, because Ronnie was a very strong person," Wendy told U.K.'s Planet Rock digital radio station in a new interview (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "And we went to Houston to MD Anderson [Cancer Center] for his chemo treatment, and we would say, 'We're killing the dragon.' We called it the 'dragon,' and we said, 'We're killing the dragon.' Ronnie didn't suffer a lot. He did his chemo treatments. And I didn't think he was gonna die. I [thought] he was gonna beat it.

"When I realized it was too late was on the Friday [May 14, 2010]. He got up and said he didn't feel well at all," she continued. "And so I called his doctor over, and we went to the hospital. He was in extreme pain — agony — and so they gave him a bunch of morphine, and Ronnie actually went into a coma. And we stayed in the hospital there until Sunday morning when he passed away."

According to Wendy, a number of Ronnie's closest friends and associates got to see him one final time before he died on May 16, 2010.

"[BLACK SABBATH bassist] Geezer and [his wife and manager] Gloria Butler were amazing; they were there with me the entire time," she said. "They just couldn't do enough for me. And it was really nice.

"With Ronnie coming back with SABBATH this last time [as HEAVEN & HELL], all the problems everybody had had before all disappeared," Wendy added. "They were all the best of friends. They were doing amazing, playing amazing. The friendship was unbelievable. And Terry [Geezer] and Ronnie were planning to [take] a trip to Egypt together.

"There was about 30 people [who] came — close friends of Ronnie's — and we were in the hospital with him. And he passed away Sunday morning."

Asked if she was in denial at the time about Ronnie's health, Wendy said: "[I was in] denial. Total denial. Especially when three weeks before he passed away, he was accepting the [Revolver] Golden Gods award [in Los Angeles], and he was doing fine. And we all thought, 'He's gonna make it.'"

Ronnie passed away less than six months after announcing he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer.

In 2006, BLACK SABBATH's "Heaven And Hell"-era incarnation reunited as HEAVEN & HELL. Dio, Butler, guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Vinny Appice recorded the acclaimed 2009 album "The Devil You Know", and toured on and off for the next few years.

Ronnie James Dio's long-awaited autobiography, titled "Rainbow In The Dark: The Autobiography", will be released on July 27 via Permuted Press. The book was partially written before the singer's death and was originally scheduled to be published several years ago via MTV Books. Also in the works is a career-spanning documentary on the life and times of the legendary rock icon. It is the first documentary about Dio to be fully authorized by the artist's estate. BMG is both financier and executive producer of the film.

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