By Gerry Galipault DIO Ronnie James Dio would like to take a moment here to personally apo

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By Gerry Galipault DIO Ronnie James Dio would like to take a moment here to personally apologize to any wolves who might be within howling distance. He likes wolves. Really, he does. Dio's thundering new "Lock Up the Wolves" album (Reprise Records), his band's first studio effort in three years, might give the impression he's singling out the wild, doglike creatures. But, look it up in the dictionary (go ahead, look it up), and you'll find that a wolf is also described as a "cruel or greedy person." Those are the wolves he's referring to. "There are a lot of wolves," Dio says in an interview from his Los Angeles home. "To me, these are not just the wolves of war. These are the wolves of homelessness, the wolves of abuse, the wolves of hunger. It's all the horrible things rolled into one. "I use the analogy of the wolf, and it's probably not very fair to the wolf, because the wolf is a wonderful animal that unfortunately has been weeded out. It's a great animal that loves its family. I didn't mean to take something so wonderful and stick this horrible tag on it. "We've all been brought up with things like, 'the Big Bad Wolf' or 'the wolf is at the door' or 'the wolf always looks lean and is ready to eat you.' But it's better than 'Lock Up the Weasels' or 'Woodchucks.' It works ... I just would like to apologize to the poor wolves. I feel for them. ... I thought it was a fair analogy only because of the way we perceive the wolf. Because of all those terrible things, it makes it easier for the wolf to jump in and prey on someone." If it seems that Dio is passionate about life and trying to help the less fortunate, you can believe it's genuine. One organization he holds especially close to his heart, Children of the Night, involves runaway and homeless children. "I know most of them personally," Dio says of the torn and tattered kids. "Every Christmas, I go to their party here. I'm their honored guest every year. They're just wonderful kids who have been badly, badly abused. Most of them come from dysfunctional families. "The great thing about Children of the Night, it's not a government organization subsidized by the government. What that, in effect, does is take away all the bureaucratic nonsense and rules that go along with it. Such as, if this was a government organization and the child goes to that agency as an abused child or for prostitution or drug use, that child is returned to its guardian, and that's the parent. That's wrong. What we're really doing is sending that kid back to hell, back for more abuse. "Children of the Night is so important to me because most of these kids come to Hollywood with dreams of being a rock star, an actor, an actress, a model. And they come here and they find nothing but nothing." In Dio's case, he grew up in Cortland, N.Y., a small college town about 50 miles south of Syracuse. He began playing the trumpet at age 5, but when he saw a rock band play at the local YMCA, it changed his life. By age 10, he took up the bass and started his first group. "I listened to everything," he says. "Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Elvis Presley and especially the Beatles. After that, I went for the harder side of it ... Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple were my favorite bands. Just hearing something with a beat behind it turned my head around." In the early '70s, Dio formed the band Elf and they wound up opening for one of his favorites, Deep Purple. He became friends with Deep Purple's guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore, and they later created Rainbow in '75. Dio left three years later and replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer of another heavy metal giant, Black Sabbath. He stayed for three albums, including the gold-selling "Heaven and Hell" in 1980, before striking out on his own. Known as Dio, the group has had one platinum ("The Last in Line") and two gold albums, "Holy Diver" and "Sacred Heart." Dio's lineup has had several changes over the years, but he's particularly excited about his current crew, which includes an 18-year-old British guitar whiz named Rowan Robertson and former AC/DC drummer Simon Wright. Keyboardist Jens Johansson, who worked with Yngwie Malmsteen, and bassist Teddy Cook round out the group. The band just finished a European tour with Metallica and begins its U.S. trek on Aug. 1 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. They'll also play Sept. 1 in Mannheim, West Germany, at the Super Rock Festival, formerly known as the Monsters of Rock. Though he's firmly fixed in the rock world and the Southern California lifestyle, Dio says he has never lost touch with his small-town roots. "I don't think anyone should have their values changed," he says. "I think there's such a great lack of it in this world, especially for young people who don't have a whole lot of role models today. I'm proud of my values and try to interweave them into the music. "I'm very fortunate to do a lot of interviews and that people listen to what I have to say, so I feel a great amount of responsibility. With the kind of upbringing I had, I'm a good representative of the music business. There are too few of us, really." (For information about the Children of the Night organization, write to: Children of the Night, 6277 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, CA 91601.) 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