How Dio Created the Metal Masterpiece ‘The Last in Line’
The title of Dio's second album could very well have referenced frontman Ronnie James Dio's lengthy wait for solo stardom after decades served as the ultimate team player.
The previous year's hit Holy Diver had been a debut album in name only. Between his recent exploits with Black Sabbath (whose career Dio helped save from oblivion), prior service with Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, the band Elf and countless, oft-forgotten groups dating all the way back to the late '50s, Ronald James Padavona had been preparing for his close up for a long, long time.
Dio again produced The Last in Line, which was recorded in the early months of 1984 at the same Caribou Ranch Studio made famous by Elton John's LP of that name. The band welcomed back the same core trio of musicians – guitarist Vivian Campbell, bassist Jimmy Bain and drummer Vinny Appice – that so competently backed up Ronnie on Holy Diver, contributing excellent song ideas, as well as their talents.
The addition of former Rough Cutt keyboard player Claude Schnell also gave new dimensions to their efforts, which arrived on July 2, 1984. The end results, as Dio himself might have put it, were magic.
Watch Dio's 'The Last in Line' Video
"We Rock" ensured that The Last in Line would storm out of the gates at full power and breakneck speed, thus paving the way for the anthemic title track and rockers like "Breathless," "One Night in the City" and "Eat Your Heart Out" that were as heavy as they were hook-filled. Sprinkled among these were further samples of pedal-to-the metal head-banging ("I Speed at Night," "Evil Eyes"), "Mystery" and an epic closer rife with mystery and grandeur in "Egypt (The Chains Are On)."
An instant success story around the world, The Last in Line hit No. 4 in the U.K. chart and No. 24 in the U.S., on the way to earning a gold certification within two months of its release. The Last in Line had powered through to platinum sales by the following year, becoming the first Dio LP to earn that distinction.
By then, the Dio band had become a touring machine, crisscrossing the U.S., U.K. and Europe between June and the end of 1984, before returning to America for a final leg that finished on Jan. 27, 1985. In all, they performed more than 100 shows with the likes of Whitesnake, Twisted Sister, Queensryche and Dokken as support acts.
The tour signified perhaps the height of the group's popularity, helping make The Last in Line first among Dio albums for many fans.
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