"Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away," wife and manager Wendy Dio wrote in a statement on the heavy metal star's official site. "Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. ... Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever."
Dio, who revealed he was suffering from stomach cancer last year, became the first lead singer of heavy metal band Rainbow, which was formed by Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. After recording three albums with the group, Dio left the band and joined Black Sabbath following Ozzy Osbourne's departure in 1980. The singer and the band then created the extremely popular Heaven And Hell album. In between his stints with Black Sabbath (1980-82, 1992, and 2007-09), Dio went the solo route with his self-titled band, with hits including "Rainbow In The Dark," "The Last In Line" and "Holy Diver."
The rocker, who grew up in upstate New York, also was known for popularizing the devil horns hand gesture in heavy metal culture during his time with Black Sabbath — a gesture that he said his grandmother used to ward off the evil eye. Dio even managed to flash the devil horns symbol as he lay in his hospital bed, according to The Associated Press.
His last album, The Devil You Know, was released in April 2009 and was a collaboration with Black Sabbath members under the band name Heaven & Hell.
Dio is survived by his wife Wendy, son Daniel, grandchildren Julie and Joey and father Pat.