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  • ronniediophotoSome of the biggest names in rock, from Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich to Slash and Ozzy Osbourne, are paying tribute to another heavy metal legend, Ronnie James Dio, who died Sunday (May 16) of stomach cancer.

    “This hasn’t really been a problem for me. Cancer? I’ll kick the hell out of you,” Dio, 67, said in March in an interview with KIAH-TV in Houston. “I refuse to be beaten in any shape or form so I’m going to beat you, too.”

    But the heavy metal legend, whose vocals powered Black Sabbath, lost his battle with stomach cancer, and he’s being remember today for the lives he touched.

    “Dear Ronnie, I just got off stage in Zagreb. I was met with the news that you’ve passed on. I’m kind of in shock, but I wanted you to know that you were one of the main reasons I made it onto that stage to begin with.” wrote Ulrich on Metallica’s Web site.

    “When I first saw you in Elf, opening for Deep Purple in 1975, I was completely blown away by the power in your voice, your presence on stage, your confidence, and the ease with which you seemed to connect to 6,000 Danish people and one starry-eyed 11 year old,” he added.

    “In the fall of 1976, when you played your first show in Copenh agen, I was literally in the front row and the couple of times we made ey e contact you made me feel like the most important person in the world…

    I made the pilgrimage to the Plaza Hotel to see if I could somehow grab a picture, an autograph, a moment, anything. A few hours later you came out and were so kind and caring… I was on top of the world, inspired and ready for anything.”

    Band members from KISS also released a statement: “We mourn the tragic passing of the great Ronnie James Dio.

    “In addition to his powerhouse vocal ability, Ronnie was a true gentleman who always emanated great warmth and friendship to us and everyone around him. We will miss him.”

    In a post on his Facebook page, Slash wrote: “Ronnie died at 7.45am th is morning, but his music will live for eternity,”

    Osbourne noted his passing on his Twitter.com page with a simple: “Rest in Peace Ronnie.”

    “Today my heart is broken. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away,” wife and a manger Wendy Dio wrote on the singer’s Web site.

    Dio grew up in Cortland a town in upstate New York and started on the road to rock fame as lead singer of the band Elf.

    He joined Rainbow, a group formed by Ritchie Blackmore, lead guitarist of Deep Purple and he recorded three albums with the group.

    But Dio is probably best remembered for replacing Osbourne in Black Sabbath.

    Dio went public with his stomach cancer last summer shortly after wrapping up a tour with Heaven And Hell, the new name for Black Sabbath.