Misc. Questions and Facts
Q: Why did Steve use three bass drums? Did he actually play all three?
A: Steve worked on the philosophy that more is better, so if one bass drum is good, two are great, than three must be even better. During the POTN all three were used, the third one on the right used by a slave pedal. It proved to be overkill, so on all subsequent tours it was there for looks only. During the Gutter tour the inner head had a bullís eye drawn on it, for the purpose of testing aiming abilities when he was spitting. Steve was allotted a certain amount of points based on his accuracy.
Q: What music videos have Savatage made?
A: Savatage made videos for 24 Hours Ago, HOTMK, Gutter Ballet, When The Crowds Are Gone, Jesus Saves, Edge Of Thorns, Sleep, HOR, One Child and Christmas Eve Sarejevo/12-24. A video was made for New York City Donít Mean Nothing, however much like the Streets demos, it seems to have vanished into the same black hole that most of your left socks go to.
Q: Who were Criss Olivaís main influences?
A: Crissís favorite guitarist was Michael Schenker, of UFO and The Michael Schenker Group fame. Criss was also fond of Alex Lifeson of Rush, Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhodes.
Q: What types of Guitars did Criss use?
A: In the beginning Criss was using Fender Stratocasters. By the mid 1980s Criss played guitar by the now defunct Kramer Guitars. In the late 80ís Criss played guitars such as the Charvel Model 6 and other high line Charvel/Jacksons. Criss actually endorsed both Charvel and Laney Amps. The famous "gargoyle" guitar was actually an ESP that had the Charvel logo spray painted on the headstock. Criss also used a Les Paul in the studio.
Q: Did Criss have a song or solo he especially proud of?
A: Criss mentioned to several people that his solo on Summerís Rain off of GB was his favorite and what he considered his best playing.
Q: Why didn't you play much of the old stuff anymore?
A: (Jon Oliva, Minneapolis, MN 10/15/94): "Well you know, you have to realize that much of that stuff is 10 years old. We're trying to sell the new stuff." Producer Paul O'Neill is quick to add that with a dozen albums in their catalog, it's difficult to cover all the bases no matter what gets played.
Q: Why did Alex Skolnick only do one album with Savatage?
A: Alex's work with Savatage was only a project by project, tour by tour, leg-by-leg basis. Alex himself has said he enjoyed working with Savatage and that they are without a doubt "the coolest band he's ever worked with." Alex said of the Testament -> Savatage jump: "They didn't like what I was doing. So, I found someone that does." When someone said to him, "...you joined a better band anyway," Skolnick quickly replied: "Not BETTER, just different. I respect Testament for what they're doing. These guys respect me for what I'm doing."
Q: How is Dawn Oliva doing today? She was pretty badly hurt in the car crash that killed Criss Oliva.
A: Dawn is still undergoing reconstructive surgery to this very day and still is traumatized emotionally by the loss of her husband.
Q: What did Zachary Stevens do before joining Savatage?
A: Stevens sang for the Boston band Wicked Witch, which also featured current Savatage drummer Jeff Plate. He cites Geoff Tate of Queensryche as a reason for wanting to become a rock singer. He was a drummer for many years before becoming a singer, most recently in his days at the University of South Carolina (his home state) where he was in the marching band percussion section. His talents have been heard live on the TWoM tour, where he played the march percussion section during "I Am".
Q: What is Zachary Stevens real name?
A: Zachary Trussell.
Q: Do any of the band members have nicknames?
A: Yes. Jon Oliva is "Mountain King" (no surprise there), Chris Caffery is known as Biff, Biff Ranger, and Golf Ball (due to an unfortunate golfing accident), among others; Johnny Lee Middleton is "Gerb".
Q: Did any TV shows or other bands have tributes to Criss Oliva after his death?
A: Yes. Headbangers Ball Europe had the following news bite on their show: Criss Oliva, a founding member of Atlantic recording group SAVATAGE, was killed in a car accident on Sunday, October 17th.
Oliva, who had been attending the Livestock Festival in Tampa, Florida was involved in a head-on collision while on his way home to Clearwater. Ms. Dawn Oliva, his wife, was critically injured in the crash.
Founded in 1982 in Florida, Savatage have released 3 independent and six Atlantic albums, including their current release "Edge of Thorns".
Oliva is survived by his wife Dawn, his brother Jon who is a former and founding member of the band, his brother Tony, and his parents Mr and Mrs Anthony Oliva. The surviving members of the band are Zachary Stevens (vocals), Johnny Lee Middleton (bass) and Steve 'Doc' Wacholz (drums).
Overkill also paid tribute to Criss Oliva.
In 1994, on their W.F.O. album, Overkill decicated the song "R.I.P. (Undone)" to Criss Oliva. The song itself an instrumental, lasting about 1:45 and is all guitar, and almost all of it is acoustic. Rob Cannavino (guitar) plays the acoustic guitar, and at the end Merritt Gant (guitar) plays an electric lead over the acoustic guitar. To quote Overkill vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth: "This is a Rob Cannavino composition. It's a little instrumental for a friend of ours who died in a car accident down in Florida, Criss Oliva from Savatage. We became very close when touring Europe, and it was a shame to lose him."
Guitar World ran this blurb in their February 1994 issue (p. 17):
R.I.P.: Criss Oliva Savatage guitarist Criss Oliva was killed in a car accident near his Clearwater, Florida, home on October 17th, while returning home from the all-day Livestock Festival in Tampa. Founded in 1982, Savatage released 2 independent and six Atlantic albums, including their most recent, Edge Of Thorns. Oliva, who commanded a rabid cult following, drawn to his innovative, anthemic, highly technical playing, was 30 at the time of his death.
Vicious Rumors dedicated a tune to Criss Oliva.
Vicious Rumors dedicated "Thunder & Rain" on Word Of Mouth to Criss. Ironically (and sadly) Carl Alberts of Vicious Rumors was in a car accident and was put on life support, but did not pull through. He died 4/29/95.
Q: Who have Savatage toured with?
Savatage had to turn down the European leg of the Bon Jovi Keep the Faith tour in Fall 1993 because of their own US commitments and then Criss' death on top of that.
Johnny Lee said that their opening stint with Kiss in '92 was especially successful.