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Back in the Day

Holy Diver! Ronnie James Dio's 1978 Close Encounter With a UFO in Connecticut

Posted by on October 14, 2019 at 1:28 pm

This interstellar story about Ronnie James Dio's account of seeing what he believed was a UFO from the window of his home in New Canaan, Connecticut back during his Rainbow days starts with a short history lesson.

In 1639, James Everell, an individual described by Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop as a "sober, discreet man" reported seeing a "great light" in the sky. Everell and a few other men were rowing a boat up the Muddy River when the object appeared, shifted in shape and maneuvered about the boat for several hours. When it disappeared, Everell and his perplexed pals were a mile from where they first saw the light, but had no idea how they got there. This event would mark the beginning of thousands of unexplained UFO sightings in and around New England, including Connecticut. In 2018 there were 100 documented UFO sightings in Dio's one-time home state; this year Connecticut's UFO sighting count is at 84, and it's only fucking September. As it pertains to extraterrestrial life truth-seekers, Connecticut is considered one of the best places to perhaps catch a glimpse of a UFO. And now that I've gone full Carl Sagan on your asses, let's get to Dio's UFO sighting, which likely occurred sometime in 1978.

Swedish journalist (and the founder of the Deep Purple Forever fan club in Sweden) Mike Eriksson met with Dio in Stockholm in April of 2001 where he was performing along with Alice Cooper and Ratt at the Johanneshvs Isstadion in support of his eighth studio record Magica. The incredible, in-depth interview with Dio (which has been republished several times since 2001), was filmed by photographer Michael Johansson who came along with Eriksson for his chat with the formidable vocalist. At the conclusion of the interview, Eriksson lobs the question at Dio inquiring if he is interested in the "UFO mystery," to which Dio responded with unbridled enthusiasm. Now, RJD didn't just believe in extraterrestrial life, he was into the idea of a UFO landing on the roof of the building where the interview was taking place saying he "wouldn't even care" if they "took him away." This leads Ericksson to ask Dio if he has actually seen a UFO himself with Dio quickly responding, "Yes I have."

Dio would share his own personal UFO story noting that it all went down in a house he and his former wife Wendy had just moved into in New Canaan. The rest of the members of Rainbow had also just relocated from Los Angeles to Connecticut as well, including Ritchie Blackmore (another UFO believer, we'll get to that in a minute) and his third wife, Amy Rothman. As Dio and Wendy were unpacking late one evening (RJD recalls it was around midnight), he caught sight of what he thought was a rather large looking moon shining brightly in the sky outside. Something seemed off about the moon that night, so Dio asked Wendy to take a look for him to be sure his eyes weren't playing tricks on him. Wendy was unphased by her husband's concerns about the giant moon and left the vocalist to his own devices. As RJD was quite the articulate cat, let's hear directly from him as to what happened next, which reads kind of like a creepy classic from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark:

"When I looked a few minutes later it was bigger, then it was bigger and bigger and coming closer and closer and closer. I thought, oh my god; this is it, the big one! I was so excited. As it got closer, we (he and Wendy) saw a car coming. Where we lived was kind of in a forested area, and there was this one lone car coming down the hill. As this car was coming down, it was just about to intersect with this light. I thought it's going to take this car away; this car is going to shoot up into whatever this thing may be. I had bated breath. The car got to this intersection point, and suddenly it went out. But it didn't go out as though you would take a flame and blow the flame out where there is an afterglow. It was as if someone had taken a black curtain and gone "woosh" and off it went. I thought now I know that was the presence of a UFO and we were blown away. The next day in the newspaper 20-45 people saw the same thing and then heard a large explosion with light after it. So it wasn't just me, and I KNOW it was that. I mean, I am absolutely positive that it was that."

While I know Tom DeLonge is nodding his head in an "I told you so" manner, I'm not going to be the one to ask for pictures, or it didn't happen. The ability to believe Dio's extraterrestrial experience is further supported by seeing Dio actually talking about it so damn seriously. Since playing heavy metal detective is one of my favorite games, I did a little digging around to see if I could find the newspaper article RJD mentioned in the interview. While I came up empty on that one, I did find an account of a round object spotted in the sky around Hartford, Connecticut (about an hour away from New Canaan) which notes over 60 calls were placed to police about the object starting at 11:00 pm on April 10th, 1978. Dio mentions he had just gotten off of a tour which would have been the grueling 4+ month tour in support of Rainbow's live album On Stage, which ended in Tokyo in March, making it reasonable to believe Dio was in the midst of moving in April. Without fear of turning this story into a heavy metal version of The X-Files, a couple of months after Ronnie's UFO sighting, Ritchie Blackmore gave a wild interview to Trouser Press where he strangely, but perhaps not so randomly, talks about his belief in UFO's:

“We’re just bordering on being invaded by UFO's, which I think certainly will come in the next five to 10 years. Which could coincide with the earth being taken over by Satan. But who knows? Let’s face it. The last 36 years we’ve had UFO sightings. They’re right here now, so it’s just about ready to happen, I think. They’re obviously watching us now.”

As with Dio, I am not going to be the one to throw a side-eye at Ritchie Blackmore's assertion that aliens were walking amongst us back in 1978, mostly because I've seen what he does to his guitars and I'm pretty sure he likes guitars. At any rate, this is Dio's story, and I'm sticking to it with him because if we can't believe in Ronnie James Dio, then what's the point?

Footage of Dio's interview concerning his UFO sighting is posted below.

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Ronnie James Dio talks about his UFO sighting back in the late 1970s. 

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