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    Become fan 5 Rate 1 Like & Share
    Genre:Metal, Rock
    Rank: history »
    5.0/5 from 1 users

    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1Mentally Yours lyrics
    2The Whip lyrics
    3Sarajevo lyrics
    4You're Alive lyrics
    5Another Way lyrics
    6Shotgun Innocence lyrics
    7Edge of Thorns lyrics
    8Symmetry lyrics
    9Out on the Streets [Unplugged] lyrics
    10Damien lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    1Fight for the Rock [1986]
    2Edge of Thorns [1993]
    3The Dungeons are Calling [1985]
    4Power of the Night [1985]
    5Sirens [1983]
    6Hall of the Mountain King [1987]
    7Handful of Rain [1994]
    8Gutter Ballet [1989]
    9Dead Winter Dead [1995]
    10Streets, A Rock Opera [1991]


    Savatage was a hard rock/heavy metal band that was formed in Clearwater, Florida in 1979 by brothers Jon Oliva and Criss Oliva. The band achieved some commercial success during its tenure, but was significantly affected by the death of Criss Oliva in a car accident in 1993. The band was also responsible for the formation of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in 1995, which has achieved major commercial success in United States. The success of the Orchestra, often called TSO for short, has meant Savatage has not recorded a new album together since 2001, and not performed as a band since 2002.

    The first result of a combination between the two brothers was a band named Avatar in 1978, which was formed from the fallout of their previous bands. In 1980, the brothers met up with their future drummer, Steve Wacholz. The brothers then gave Wacholz a nickname that he would be recognized for in the rest of his career with the band – "Doctor Hardware Killdrums", often shortened to either "Doctor Killdrums" or simply, "Doc". The band played clubs in the Tampa and Clearwater area of Florida for many years, adding bass player Keith Collins in 1981. The band's big break came in 1983. After performing in a concert in the parking lot of a shopping mall, they were spotted by scouts from a local Florida label. The resulting album was their debut – Sirens, which was released in 1983. The Dungeons are Calling, the band's second release, was released as extended play record and these records gained the attention of Atlantic Records executives.

    Savatage was then signed up to the label, and began their contract with the release of Power of the Night in 1985, which was produced by (now-retired) Max Norman, the man responsible for the earlier output of Ozzy Osbourne, and would later help Megadeth to commercial success in the early 1990s. Power of the Night was a critical success, but this success did not translate into records sold. More disappointment would follow in 1986, when the band released the album that they frequently refer to as "Fight for the Nightmare". Jon Oliva was asked to write material for some more commercial artists on the Atlantic label. In a sudden change of heart, Atlantic asked the band to record the material themselves. In the band's youthful naïveté, they agreed and the result was Fight for the Rock. Quickly, the band found them destroyed by the music presses, and this was what initially started front man Jon Oliva's experimentation with drugs and alcohol. The only bright spot from the release of the album was the arrival of bass player Johnny Lee Middleton. Johnny then appeared on each Savatage record that followed, being the only consistent member of the band.

    Finally, the band would experience some good times. In 1987, the band worked with producer Paul O'Neill for the very first time and the result was Hall of the Mountain King. This album has consistently been rated as a classic heavy metal release in many polls taken from both within and outside the industry. The success of the album allowed the band to produce it's first ever music video, in an era where videos were becoming more popular to achieve higher success. The title track of the album would achieve significant rotations on MTV's hard rock/heavy metal program, Headbangers' Ball. Along with albums from bands Fates Warning and Queensrÿche, HOTMK was considered one of first album of a new genre: progressive metal – a style of music that linked the styling's of progressive music from the likes of Pink Floyd and Queen, with the distinct "evil" sound from the fore running heavy metal bands, such as Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden.

    The true fork in the road for the band came with the release of Gutter Ballet in 1989, which was inspired by Jon Oliva's viewing of a performance of The Phantom of the Opera in Toronto. The album title was actually the name of a Broadway play written by Paul O'Neill some ten years earlier, and was stumbled upon by Criss Oliva when searching for inspiration for the band's new album. Again, this album was a success, and Jon Oliva was invited, along with new rhythm guitarist Chris Caffery to appear on Headbangers' Ball for an interview with host, Riki Rachtman. Gutter Ballet would inspire what would be the band's most critically acclaimed work – 1991's Streets: A Rock Opera, although this is simply referred to by the band and the fans as Streets. The tale of a rock star named DT Jesus, who falls on hard times in New York City. The story of Streets was effectively that of the play written by O'Neill, but the band made some changes to the songs, and Atlantic did not like some of the ideas the band wanted to use. Originally, plans called for the record to be a double CD, but Atlantic wanted the band to bring it down to a single CD. This was around the time that the music industry was changing – metal, which was the flavor of the 80s, was being replaced by a new Seattle-led phenomenon called grunge.

    Jon Oliva left the band in 1992, and the official reason given was that Oliva was going to work on his Broadway-bound musical, but, many fans suspect that Oliva was burned out. His musical, "Romanov", has still not seen the stage, even as late as 2011. Jon hand picked his replacement, former Wicked Witch lead vocalist Mr. Zachary Stevens. Jon has since admitted in more recent interviews that had things turned out the way he planned, Stevens would take the lead vocals for the next record as an "introduction" and he would return for the follow-up and the two would have two lead vocalists. The band's first record with Stevens was released in 1993. Edge of Thorns saw every track written by both Olivas and Paul O'Neill, and Savatage finally began to enjoy some mainstream popularity, with "Edge of Thorns" being played on mainstream US rock stations. A world tour, the bands first as a headliner, was to follow, and saw the band extend into new territories.

    All the success was overshadowed with the tragic loss of Criss Oliva. On October 17, 1993, whilst driving back from a festival in Florida, a car driven by a drunk driver, careered across the median of the highway and killed Criss. He was only 30 years old. Criss's wife, Dawn, who traveled with him in his Mazda RX-7, suffered serious physical injuries, but made a recovery. The loss of her beloved husband, who was her high-school sweetheart, however still shook her. Dawn unfortunately herself passed away on January 10, 2005. Jon, still distraught over the loss of his brother, entered the studio and recorded a "tribute" to Criss, which was released as the band's following album, Handful of Rain, but Jon has admitted that since Criss's death, Savatage was not the same, going as far as calling the band's 2001 album Poets and Madmen "Poets and Sidemen". Alex Skolnick contributed guitar tracks in the place of Criss, but earned criticism from some fans for not honoring Criss's memory by playing the guitar solos of the original tracks. One noted critic at the time was Chris Caffery, who as it turns out would return to the band in 1995, partly as a result of this.

    Dead Winter Dead expanded on the style of Handful of Rain, which saw the band début counter point vocals in songs, a feature that would form part of the remainder of their work. As a result of pressure from Atlantic Records, Al Pitrelli was enlisted as a second guitar player, whilst Jon Oliva returned as a vocalist, allbeit not as the lead singer of the band. Jeff Plate would enter the fold as the band's new drummer (impressively, Plate's first record with the band, Japan Live '94 was recorded four weeks after his first gig). Initially, the record did not see much success, until a decision was made to release the track "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)" under the name Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Suddenly, more radio stations began to play the song, which was no different from the Savatage version. Atlantic then requested an album based around the song, which became TSO's Christmas Eve and Other Stories, released in 1996 to commercial fame. Privately, Jon Oliva began to question that the biggest barrier to the band's success was it's name and stigma as "that eighties heavy metal band".

    The Wake of Magellan followed in 1998 and the band achieved the headline slot at the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany for the first time. However, focus drifted to the more commercially successful TSO, which featured the Savatage members. In 2000, the band was hit with a double blow - Al Pitrelli was enlisted to replace Marty Friedman in the multi-platinum speed metal kings Megadeth, and Zachary Stevens left the band for family reasons. As a result, 2001's Poets and Madmen saw the long awaited return of Jon Oliva to lead vocals of the band. The band's first record as a four piece since 1993, Al Pitrelli was recognised with some contributions and the band embarked on another world tour, which was shortened after the attacks on September 11, 2001. Two musicians filled in on that particular tour - Daimond Jinya as lead vocalist and Jack Frost on guitars, although Frost was fired during the tour for reasons that remain unclear and Jeff Waters of Annihilator filled in during the band's 2002 dates.

    Since 2002, each member of the band has embarked on other differing projects, from solo work, collaborations with each other and continuing to work on the commercial behemoth that is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Despite there being many constant talk on message boards, Jon Oliva doesn't see a reunion of the band occurring at any point in the near future, at least under the name Savatage.

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