Criss Oliva: Age 30 | Cause Of Death: CAR CRASH


(April 3, 1963 – October 17, 1993)

Savatage formed in Florida in 1978 as Avatar, led by brothers Jon (vocals) and Criss (guitar) Oliva. They changed their name to Savatage in 1983, pursuing a strongly Judas Priest- and Iron Maiden- influenced style of metal. Their other members included Steve “Doc” Wacholz (drums) and Keith Collins (bass), who was later replaced by Johnny Lee Middleton. They meandered between basic metal and more commercial fare before adding second guitarist Chris Caffery and hitting their stride in 1990 with Gutter Ballet. The band showed a flair for intense, melodic hard rock, dramatic balladry, and elaborate, operatic concepts, which they pursued over their next few albums. Criss Oliva was  killed in an auto accident in 1993; he was replaced by former Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick, but  the new lineup was ill-received. Dead Winter Dead followed in 1995, and after a three-year  absence Savatage returned with The Wake of Magellan. The Final Bell appeared in 1999. —  Steve Huey, All-Music Guide October 17th, Criss and his wife Dawn were driving to Livestock Music festival in Florida when a drunk driver crossed the center line and hit Criss head on. Criss was killed instantly, Dawn narrowly surived the crash. Criss’ gravesite is located in Palm Harbor, Florida.~ Savatage site