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.
Turns out, the story of Murray is infinitely more complicated than anyone imagined. Fans that purchased a Dream Evil tour book were met with a surprise. Inside, an eye opening essay outlined the origins of Dio’s famous mascot in painstaking detail.
Lengthy and complicated, the story traced the roots of Murray, whose real name is Murralsee, back to the origins of Earth. After learning of his father’s plot to kill him, Murralsee ran away from home. Taking refuge in a cave, he consumed a potion that caused him to sleep for a trillion years. Murralsee awoke in a new era where he befriended Ronnie James Dio.
Having misheard his name, Ronnie mistakenly called his new pal Murray. Often, Dio would return to the cave to hear stories of the olden days. These tales of ancient times served as source material for many DIO songs. As a tribute, Murray was subsequently featured on many of Dio’s biggest albums.
Even as new images appeared on album covers, Murray lived on. Over 30 years have passed since the release of Holy Diver and the mascot can still be found on t-shirts, patches and compilation albums. Just like the spirit of Dio himself, the legend of Murray will forever remain in the hearts and minds of true metal fans!