Former Megadeth Bassist Remembers Late Savatage Guitarist

artist: savatage date: 02/23/2009 category: general music news
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Former Megadeth and current F5 bassist David Ellefson has posted the following message on his web site: "My friend Clay Marshall from Prosthetic Records contacted me a few months back to add my thoughts on a special feature story he was writing on one of my all-time favorite guitarists, Criss Oliva of Savatage. Criss had a very distinctive tone and style that left an indelible mark on my life. Sadly, he was killed in a car accident in 1993 but his inventive guitar work can be heard on many Savatage classics, one of my favorites being the 'Hall of the Mountain King' record. Criss and I became friends during the ensuing tour we did together with DIO a few months later. Check out the story in the new April 2009 issue of Guitar World magazine, on the newsstands now. It's a great trip down memory lane, reflecting on an amazing player and a true gentleman." This past October marked the 15th anniversary of the passing of Criss Oliva. To honor his memory, the Greek edition of Rock Hard magazine published a special five-page article featuring interviews with about Criss conducted exclusively for this story. A translated version of the article can now be found on the Savatage Legion (Greece) MySpace page. The following people were interviewed for the article:
  • Steve "Dr. Killdrums" Wacholz (original Savatage drummer)
  • Paul O'Neill (longtime Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra producer and co-writer)
  • Chris Caffery (guitars, Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
  • Johnny Lee Middletton (bass, Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
  • Zak Stevens (vocals, Savatage, Circle II Circle)
  • Alex Skolnick (guitars, Testament, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, replaced Criss Oliva on "Handful of Rain" album)
  • John Zahner (keyboards, Jon Oliva's Pain, also Savatage touring member for the "Streets" tour) For more information, visit www.myspace.com/rockhardgreece. In the early morning hours of October 17, 1993 Criss Oliva and his wife Dawn were en route to the Livestock Festival in Zephyrhills, Florida when tragedy struck. They were hit head-on by a drunk driver. Criss was killed and Dawn suffered severe injuries. The driver of the other car, Garth McNamee, was found to have a drunk driving record of seven prior DUIs and having a blood alcohol content of .294 percent (legal Florida limit is .10 percent) and sustained fractured left ribs, jaw, nose, right wrist, and both lower legs with lacerations to his face, legs and right hand, according to RealSavatage.com. The drunk driver was charged and convicted of DUI manslaughter, DUI serious injury, and vehicular homicide but served only 18 months jail time and had his driver's license revoked indefinitely. He was also ordered to write the Oliva family an apology letter and was said to be paying restitution of $100 a month to Dawn Oliva. Thanks for the report to Blabbermouth.net.
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