From Academic Kids

Savatage is a progressive metal band founded by the brothers Jon and Criss Oliva in 1979. The band is known for recording many concept albums.



Jon and Criss Oliva formed the band in Florida with the name Metropolis, but changed the name shortly thereafter to Avatar. Under this name, the band released an EP called City Beneath a Surface in 1982 and took part in some heavy metal compilations.

However, the band had to be renamed once more (due to another band having the same name) and so Savatage (a mixture of Avatar and Savage) was born. Jon Oliva became the lead singer; Criss Oliva became the guitarist; Steve Wacholz became the band's drummer; and Keith Collins became the bass guitar player, but was soon replaced by Johnny Lee Middleton.

The first works by Savatage were strongly influenced by famous metal bands such as Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. Their first two albums, Sirens and The Dungeons Are Calling, were released on an independent label. In 1985, they signed a contract with Atlantic Recording Corporation and released their third album, Power of the Night.

In 1986, after the release of their fourth album, Fight for the Rock, a failed attempt at a commercial approach imposed by the record company, Savatage toured with Metallica, KISS and Motörhead.

In 1987, Savatage released their first commercially successful album - The Hall of the Mountain King - which was the base for the band's fame all over the world. This album introduced a new style - featuring symphonic instrumentals strongly influenced by their new producer, Paul O'Neill - that would shape the band's future. O'Neill would contribute most of the lyrics for the rest of their career, and gave them a more operatic, conceptual edge starting with their next album, Gutter Ballet.

Chris Caffery, who had been playing with Savatage on their 1987 tour as a second rhythm player, was introduced as a new band member 1988.

In 1991, the band created their first rock opera, Streets. However, after their tour, Jon Oliva was forced to step down from his position of lead vocalist citing increasing vocal problems. Zak Stevens took over the position, and the band recorded their next album, Edge of Thorns. For the first time, Savatage began to enjoy the fruits of mainstream success and recognition, including increased radio play and a world tour. However, tragedy struck when Criss Oliva was killed by a drunk driver in a car accident. The loss of their lead guitarist shook the band, but they decided to persevere and continue his memory.

Alex Skolnick temporarily joined Savatage for the release of their ninth album, Handful of Rain, written by Jon Oliva and Paul O'Neill. Criss Oliva was commemorated in a number of the songs including the personal tribute "Alone You Breathe". After the tour, Skolnick left and Chris Caffery and Al Pitrelli joined the band.

In 1995, Savatage released their second rock opera, Dead Winter Dead, an even more ambitious undertaking than its predecessor. "Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24" garnered heavy radio rotation during the Christmas season. While they toured Europe and Japan, the group forwent an American tour to work on their new project, Christmas Eve and Other Stories, recorded by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, comprising Savatage and a large orchestra.

Their eleventh album, The Wake of Magellan, was released in 1998, and dealt with such concepts as the worth of a life, suicide and drug abuse, drawing on real-life events such as the Maersk Dubai and the murder of Veronica Guerin.

Savatage continued to focus on their Trans-Siberian Orchestra project for a while, releasing The Christmas Attic, but the release of Poets and Madmen in 2001 highlighted Jon Oliva's return as lead vocalist.


Former members

  • Criss Oliva - Guitar, died in a car accident in October 17, 1993
  • Steve Wacholz - Drums, left in 1993
  • Keith Collins - Bass, was asked to leave in 1985
  • Zachary Stevens - left in 2000
  • Jack Frost - Guitar


External links

  • Official website (
  • Art and Faith Online ( a review of the religious themes of three Savatage rock operas



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