At the end of
1992 the giant with the powerful voice retreated from the
stagelights: Mountain King Jon Oliva performed his last gig as
Savatages lead singer in "Rock-it" , Tampa. The local
hard rock radio station " 98 Rock " broadcasted all 24
songs of the farewell performance live.
The club itself was hopelessly overcrowded; about a thousand fans who had not been able to get tickets, were standing outside in the street during the concert.
Even Keith Collins showed up, to play 'Sirens' and 'Dungeons' together with Jon, Criss and Steve. Chris Caffery was also onstage for 18 songs: " It was extremely moving. Jon was crying on stage. A very emotional gig."
' Edge of Thorns ' was to be the first album since 'Sirens', for which the band recorded in Florida again. The premiere of the new line-up, with Jon's brilliant successor Zachary Stevens didn't leave a wish unfulfilled - and naturally took place in Morrisound. Criss Oliva was more than satisfied with the result. In his last interview with Rock Hard he emphasized, that 'Edge of Thorns' represented " the best I have ever accomplished on an album."
Jim Morris: " It was like this interval of years had never taken place. Most surprising to me was the fact, that Jon and Criss did not show any rockstar attitude. It was pure unadulterated fun. The guys were just as witty, original and honest as I remembered them."
The album was a
success, but the same could not be said of the tour, which mainly
was caused by the fact that Steve Wacholz gave his friends a
cancellation shortly before the start: " I had put a lot
of money in the opening of a business ( an indoor course for
remote control racing cars ) which I would have been forced
to leave on it's own for a couple of months two weeks later
And so it happened that the fans got to see a radically changed line-up with Zachary and short-term leased drummer Andy James. In Europe, the band also had to deal with the problem of having to open for Overkill with very bad sound and light circumstances.
A few days after
the end of the tour in the USA tragedy struck the Sava-family :
Criss Oliva was on the way home from a concert when his car was hit head-on by a drunk driver in Clearwater. Criss died immediately, his wife Dawn survived the crash severely injured.
At this time,
Paul and Jon were in New York, where they were working on new
Paul: " I got home that day and noticed that there were at least 80 messages on my answering machine. Something terrible must have happened. So I called Florida and found out what had happened to Criss. Jon wasn't there. He was on his way, went out to buy something. Somehow I managed to get hold of him, but did not want to tell him anything over the phone. So I told him I had fallen into a mirror and had cut open my arm. He had to come over immediately to take me to the hospital.
There he was, standing on my doorstep. A horrible moment, when I told him, what had happened. The whole day went by like in a bad dream. Jon immediately drove to the airport. And then we have buried Criss. "
chapel was way too small for the mourning community. "
At least a thousand people had come", Chris Caffery
Jim Morris had a " bittersweet feeling " at the funeral, " because so shortly before his death I had one more chance to work on an album with him, a chance to renew my acquaintance with him. I have been immensely impressed by the fact that this man was still standing with both feet firmly on the ground, in spite of all his talent."
Steve: " When Criss died, a part of me died along with him. If he'd been alive today, I would still be in the band, even though I'd have trouble with the thought of having to go onstage without Jon as lead singer. But touring under the name of Savatage without an Oliva was absolutely impossible for me from then on".
From RockHard Legends, Savatage
Translated by Ellen Bakvis