Metallica lead the tributes to legendary singer

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Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Dio singer Ronnie James Dio has passed away after losing his battle with stomach cancer.

Dio, aged 67, had died on Sunday (May 16), after being diagnosed with the condition last November.

His wife and manager Wendy Dio posted a statement on his official site Ronniejamesdio.com which read: “Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us.”

She added: “Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.”

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich also paid tribute, writing an open letter on Metallica.com, where he explained that he has been a lifelong fan of the singer.

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

The drummer added: “When we finally got a chance to play together in Austria in 2007, even though I may not have let on, I was literally transformed back to that little snot-nosed kid who you met and inspired 31 years earlier.”

Dio, who replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath in 1979, fronted Heaven & Hell and Dio before his death.

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