After Ronnie James Dio died in May 2010, Judas Priest‘s Rob Halford, Black Sabbath‘s Geezer Butler and other members of the hard rock/heavy metal community were quick to express their appreciation in public for the powerful, pint-size singer.

A belated Dio tribute came from a rather unlikely source on Feb. 17 when alt-country star Ryan Adams busted out a solo acoustic cover of ‘Holy Diver’ during his concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

In a clip now available on the Internet, Adams – holding a red, white and blue acoustic guitar – jokes with the audience about his show running overtime. Quickly changing gears, he says, “I mean this from the bottom of my heart. This man who wrote this song … is just a genius and like a blindingly good person.”

The crowd remains quiet at first as Adams starts the song on his guitar, but once he sings the tune’s title (and opening words), there’s a smattering of applause. At first, Adams alternates from single-note picking and chord strumming, then shifts to full-on strumming as he picks up the tempo.

In the latter part of the performance, Adams prompts a few laughs when he says, “If Warren DeMartini was going to come out, this would be the perfect part right here.” Metal aficionados know it was longtime Def Leppard member Vivian Campbell — not DeMartini, who found fame with Ratt — who played on ‘Holy Diver,’ but Adams can be forgiven for taking liberties with his choice of renowned metal guitarists.

Hey, here’s a thought: If there’s room (and still time), why not have Adams contribute to the forthcoming star-studded Dio tribute album?

Watch Ryan Adams Perform Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’


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