‘I loved the guy; I miss him’: Deep Purple’s Roger Glover remembers Ronnie James Dio’s softer side

Roger Glover has, over his storied career, worked with a number of legends — from Ritchie Blackmore and David Coverdale to Jon Lord and Ian Gillan. None perhaps touched him like Ronnie James Dio.

“I loved working with him,” Glover says, in this emotional clip. “I loved the guy, too. I miss him.”

Glover produced Dio’s early recordings with Elf, beginning with 1972′s self-titled debut through 1974′s L.A. 59 and then Trying to Burn the Sun in ’75. Dio also sang on Glover’s 1974 solo project The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast. Slowly but surely, Dio’s amazing voice and stirring stage presence were starting to become more widely recognized in music circles, even if none of Elf’s records had exactly flown off the shelves.

“It was before he was known,” Glover tells Pour Vigier Guitars. “I produced three albums with Elf, so I knew Ronnie very well. No one else did! But I thought he was just a fantastic singer. He had a great voice.”

By the mid-1970s, Dio was working with Rainbow, led by Ritchie Blackmore — Glover’s former Deep Purple bandmate. Glover would eventually join Rainbow, as well, in a stint that lasted from 1979–1984 — though, by then, Dio had departed for Black Sabbath and then a solo career.

Nevertheless, Glover’s friendship with Dio endured, through to the legend’s early passing from stomach cancer in 2010.

“He was a very caring guy,” Glover adds. “He was a hard-bitten, upstate New Yorker. He could be tough, and he could be cynical. He could be very funny. But his heart was pure. He loved what he did, and he always had respect for the fans. That means a lot to me.”

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As a bassist, songwriter and producer, Roger Glover helped shape the sound of Deep Purple, along with late-period Rainbow — making key contributions to a series of undeniably classic tracks from “Smoke on the Water” to “Woman from Tokyo” to today. Nick DeRiso surveys a handful of favorites …

“BLUDSUCKER,” (ABANDON, 1998): The bassist’s fleet fingers are showcased as part of a brilliant stop-start cadence on this Glover co-written Deep Purple track, even as recently added guitarist Steve Morse makes his own presence known. Along the way, they add a muscular neo-prog feel to a track that originally found a home on Deep Purple in Rock.

“MAYBE I’M A LEO,” (MACHINE HEAD, 1972): Glover gets down and dirty on this funky co-written album cut, refusing to give way even for Blackmore’s churlish guitar solo. Jon Lord’s easy-going keyboard aside then opens the door for a more assertive return to the tune’s principal groove — aided by Ian Paice’s active flourishes at the drums.

“WEIRDISTAN,” (NOW WHAT?!, 2013): Glover and Deep Purple, after some time away, once again masterfully blend the metal, progressive rock and R&B influences that gave Deep Purple its unique persona — even as they stir in new flourishes to keep things fresh. ‘Weirdistan,’ which features a simply murderous cadence, features a string of gnarly outbursts from Steve Morse before Don Airey unleashes a keyboard solo that lives up to the song’s name. Throughout, you’ll find Glover hitting bass notes that could bring down buildings.

“WOMAN FROM TOYKO,” (WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE, 1973): Blackmore’s iron-bending riff gives way to a rumbling group-composed paean to a certain exotic love interest (or was it touring in Japan for the first time?), even as Glover (and Gillan) make their last Deep Purple appearance until 1984′s ‘Perfect Strangers.’ After a dreamy middle-section interlude, Glover adds a taut bounce to this No. 60 hit’s closing section.

“SMOKE ON THE WATER,” (MACHINE HEAD, 1972): Blackmore’s iconic riff, Lord’s portent-filled retorts. It’s all been celebrated and studied to the point of distraction. So, this time, wait. Wait 35 seconds. That’s when, after all that you’ve air-guitared a million times happens, we find something new to explore on this No. 4 smash: Glover’s grease-popping lines. Two minutes later, same thing. He works in locomotive contrast to everything that came before, giving the song these endlessly intriguing new pockets of musical inspiration.

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