If Ronnie James Dio had simply been the singer of Rainbow and Black Sabbath, his name would have been firmly etched in the annals of rock and roll. With Holy Diver, Dio escaped the shadow of his past and forged an identity that was truly his own. A carefully assembled band helped create the music. The image, however, can be attributed to a monstrous mascot named Murray.
An evil creature with blood red eyes, our first glimpse of Murray shows this beast choking a drowning priest with iron chains. The potent scene was more than enough to satisfy the dark requirements of eighties metal. It was precisely the kind of image that captures the attention of young fans while simultaneously offending parents.
Few doubt the malevolent intentions of Murray. Still, there is an inherent complexity woven into the aesthetic of Dio’s mascot. Ronnie has always been quick to suggest that Holy Diver could depict a priest killing a devil. It’s a complex painting that reminds us not to jump to conclusions.
The Last in Line further implicates Murray of infernal connections. Standing above a sea of hell-fire, the demonic mascot watches over his dominion. Perhaps Murray was killing a priest after all.
Just as it seemed that Murray would be an omnipresent fixture in the Dio universe, he was gone. No trace of the devilish one could be found on the Sacred Heart sleeve. Instead, a dragon by the name of Denzil graced the cover.
The absence of Murray was part of a larger plan. Each night during the Sacred Heart tour, Denzil came to life on stage. With an arena of fans cheering him on, Dio extended his magic sword and triumphantly slayed the dragon.
Murray was promptly resurrected with the release of Dream Evil. Beneath a full moon, Murray peered through a window as he watched a young girl sleep. Blissfully unaware of assorted night creatures lurking beneath her bed, evil threatened the very personification of innocence.
It’s easy to assume ill intent on the part of Murray, but as Dio pointed out before, one should not be too quick to judge. It’s just as likely that Murray keeps watch over the child, ready to protect her from the ominous goblin that stands at the foot of her bed.