Hands of gold, heart of gold.
The man can simply do anything, When Chris sang "Power of the Night" on the Gutter Ballet tour, lefthander Jon overtook master Caffery's righthanded guitar.
"The narrowest line imaginable between Genius and Madness is drawn between the right and left brain halves of Jon Oliva".
Jon Oliva is a phenomena in many respects. Apart from the fact that the born comedian went into HM history as one of the most charismatic singers, the man also plays the piano, guitar, bass, and drums without ever having had tuition in his entire life.
"I'm sure Jon is one of the most talented musicians this planet has ever set eyes upon,"confirms Steve Wacholz. The chain-smoker (Paul:" Jon's cigarette consumption is costing him astronomical amounts of money!") easily manages to set himself down behind a grand piano for an entire evening and play Beatles songs in a John Lennon way, like he did in a Californian hotel during the "Streets" tour, when after a Savatage show he gave a private performance in front of many enthousiastic hotel guests 'till the early morning hours. Jim Morris is convinced of the fact that apart from Jon there's no HM singer, who is able to manage such a thing. Especially not with this perfection.
Paul:" It was impossible to let anyone else but Jon Oliva play the piano parts of "Alone you Breathe" at the "Handful of Rain" sessions. I have ordered in an excellent pianist from a school of music, but even after eight hours he wasn't able to carry out a feeling comparable to Jon's." Also as a songwriter the repertoire of the family-father (two boys, seven and thirteen years old) seems to be inexhaustable. He manages to write a song that sounds just right within six or seven minutes Big Dave, friend, neighbor and traveling companion for many years describes the abilities of the "Mountain King". "Within a quarter of an hour he'd gathered several ideas, that I recognized a year later on "Edge of Thorns". I have already asked him a hundred times, why he doesn't make use of this talent to at least now and then write a song that'll roll up the Billboard-singlecharts backwards. But he always says, "I can't write that junk, because that's not who I am. I don't like superficial stuff like that". The man could've been a millionaire for years... "
On the contrary he belongs to those kind of people that would give away their last shirt if anyone would ask them for a favor. There is nobody near him who doesn't continually emphasize what a modest, friendly and generous fellow-man Jon Oliva is. The certified "Madman" surely isn't a saint, but, to put it in Big Dave's words, "He's the biggest contrary of an asshole one can imagine. Like his brother he belongs to those kind of people that would never look down upon anybody. "
Paul: I have seen Jon after shows, after he which he was fully exhausted, He went outside, ran into 200 kids there and each and every one of them got his autograph, even if it took two hours. Jon simply has a heart of gold. In Japan he once completely dis appeared after a show. I looked for him everywhere and found him in an empty hall where he was taking care of the cleaning shift, that existed of older men and women mostly, with beer and sandwiches. In his early childhood Jon was inspired by his father, who for many years besides his job as a sales manager of a syntetic factory played piano in hotel and dinner clubs." We've always had a grand piano in the house and right from the beginning my parents have supported Criss and me when they saw how much music meant to us, although my father, who had a classical education, deeply regretted the fact that neither of us ever took one hour of tuition and have followed our own noses across the field. But we were teenagers that wanted to play Black Sabbath songs. "
From: RockHard Legends, Savatage
Translated by Ellen Bakvis