“Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45 a.m. 16th May,” his wife, Wendy Dio, said in a message on his official website.
Dio, 67, followed Ozzy Osbourne as Black Sabbath’s lead vocalist in 1979.
“Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away,” she wrote. “Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all.”
The rock community paid tribute to Dio in messages late Sunday.
“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,” KISS said. “We will miss him.”
Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian called Dio’s death a big loss.
“So many memories of Ronnie. Toured together many times. He always had a kind word and a smile, and he loved the Yankees,” Ian said.
Musician Slash summed up the loss in one sentence: “Ronnie died at 7:45 a.m., but his music will live for eternity.”
Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, who became friends with Dio while touring Europe, said the rocker will be missed.
“I still have this image of him standing on stage in front of 100,000 belting out ‘Man on the Silver Mountain’ and remember the shivers it sent up my spine,” Sixx said.
He called Dio “one of the kindest souls I have ever met and his talent was beyond inspirational to so many of us.”
“Those of us that had the opportunity to know Ronnie can tell you what a wonderful and passionate man he was,” Sixx said.
Dio most recently was touring with Heaven and Hell, a version of Black Sabbath renamed for legal reasons. All shows were canceled last March because of his illness.
His last public appearance was in April at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards when he accepted a vocalist of the year award for his work on last year’s Heaven and Hell album. Dio appeared frail, but he spoke while accepting his award.
Born Ronald James Padavona in 1942, Dio’s professional music career began as a high school student in the late 1950s.
His 1960s rock group The Electric Elves evolved into Elf by the early 1970s, when the group played heavy blues rock.
Dio’s rock became darker with his band Rainbow, which he left in 1979 to join Black Sabbath.
Black Sabbath released three albums with Dio, including “Heaven and Hell” in 1980, “Mob Rules” in 1981 and “Live Evil” in 1982.
Dio left that band in 1982, but he had a brief reunion with the group a decade later.
He formed the group Dio in 1982 and later Heaven and Hell.