While late metal icon Ronnie James Dio was raised in upstate New York, he was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on July 10, 1942. Now, nearly six years after Dio’s death, one fan in the Granite State’s seacoast city is pushing to have a statue erected in the singer’s honor. A change.org petition directed at the Portsmouth City Council has garnered nearly 1,500 signatures, and this week has gotten press in outlets like hard rock website Loudwire and local New Hampshire newspaper site Seacoast Online. Yesterday, the official Ronnie James Dio Facebook page endorsed the petition.
Currently, we’re told there is only one official Dio statue in the world — located in Kavarna, Burlgaria, and unveiled a few months after the musician’s death in 2010. But Brian Kelly, who runs the “Keep Portsmouth Loud” Facebook page is leading a team that hopes Portsmouth adds a second.
“We would like to set the statue in Prescott Park, the heart of the arts in Portsmouth, honoring the legacy of this influential man. Preferably there would be a water feature on this memorialization considering our strong maritime tradition,” the petition states. “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.”
Kelly’s vision for the statue includes Dio, who he calls a paragon of Rock and Roll”, clutching a sword. “We would love to see 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,” Kelly writes. “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.”
As Loudwire notes, Kelly is getting some support not just from metalheads and rock and roll disciples, but from those involved with city affairs, as well. Portsmouth Music and Arts Center director Russ Grazier signed the petition, writing: “I’ve heard worse ideas. The thought of children climbing on the back of Ronnie James Dio next to the whale statue warms my metal heart. Make it so.”