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Remembering Savatage’s Criss Oliva; Gone Twenty Years Today (10/17/93-10/17/13)

It was twenty years ago today that the Metal world lost Savatage guitarist and co-founder Criss Oliva to a drunk driver and the fans of his music still miss him as strongly as when this first happened. He was only 30 years old when at the time and was growing in popularity by leaps and bounds based on his incendiary skills on the lead guitar. Born Christopher Michael Oliva in 1963, he is the brother of Savatage’s own Jon Oliva (the legendary Mountain King) and together they formed Avatar which eventually took new musical shape and life as Savatage in 1983. Metal was about to get a dose of something different care of these guys and the ride was an exciting one to me as a new fan.

Photo - Criss Oliva

I was first turned on to the music of Savatage by my friend Rizzo who I eventually worked in a band with together for a few years and I guess that the time of this Metal referral was around when “Power Of The Night” was already released. I was a drummer and I loved the power of the riffs over the title track and used to rehearse against that tune regularly. I became more of a diehard to the band’s output with “Hall Of The Mountain King” and honestly who didn’t love almost all of that one in the Metal circles of the time. To continue to speak personally on this, our band Machine was floored when the legendary L’Amour’s in Brooklyn booked us to be the opener for the Savatage and Trouble show that was going to take place. The band had just released “Gutter Ballet” and I ran over to The Record Factory to buy a copy on this new CD medium that everyone was beginning to talk about a lot more. I liked that they had cool booklets and inside this one were individual pages with the members of the group.
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