Paul O'Neill: Magician, poet, visionary.

Paul O'Neill grew up in a workmen's quarter of New York City . He was the second of ten children of an American Worldwar II veteran of Irish descent , who worked in the telephone network construction, attended college in the evening hours and later made it to professor of history.
" I was surrounded by books when I was a kid", the obsessed workaholic and perfectionist " Whose fuel consists of a gallon of Diet Coke a day" ( note from Chris Caffery ) describes his weak spot for histories and history, which eventually led to the concept of "Dead Winter Dead".
His pretension: "Even if it may sound a bit high-flown - I'm convinced of the fact that art has a certain responsability of initiating a humane life".
One of the many examples for Paul's lyrics is the background story of the "Handful of Rain" - song "Chance"

"Sampa Zukihara was the Japanese ambassador in Moskow in the 30's. A small, weak-looking man with thick glasses. At these times there also were actions against the Jews in Russia, and he has given out thousands of visa for Jewish refugees, so they were able to leave the USSR through Japan. After the warning from Japan to stop doing this he then did not quit, but instead multiplied his efforts to help these people. He was discharged from his post and he passed the rest of his life in bitter poverty as a boat-builder in a small Japanese coast town. In the early 80's survivors tracked him down and offered him money. He refused. In 1986 he died, unnoticed by his neighbors, who only found out who he had been when at his funeral 20.000 people from all over the world attended."

Paul's credo: " Many times in your life you get the chance to do something, to change something in a positive manner - and then you have to grab it."
Jon Oliva has the most effective way of expressing just how much Savatage profits from Paul O'Neill's creative input: " Paul and I often fight like two big children in the studio. Crazy, but it works, 'cause it's extremely productive. We simply have the right formula, regarding the typical Savatage sound. He hears minuscule details when I'm jamming something, makes me stop and says: " Hey, that was cool, work on this idea a bit more". He's simply as quick as lightning at hearing and picking out stuff. These are the moments in which our songs are born.
"

 

Multitalent Paul

Entered the music business at age 16 as guitarist of the ensembles of "Hair" and "Jesus Christ Superstar". The autodidact, who writes some of his songs on the piano, also was on the road with a coverband for a couple years. He worked as a live soundman for bands like Humble Pie, was a sound technician in the New York Electric Ladyland -Studio for a while, switched to management and promotion and within a few years made it to vice president of the -at that time- biggest management company Leber/Krebs Communications.
- Altogether wrote over 80 songs for bands with major contracts.
- Directed several video productions.
- Worked out the concept, organized and promoted the first Rock Festivals in Japan in '84 and '85, also took care of the touring of Whitesnake, Foreigner, Scorpions, Bon Jovi, Sting and Madonna over there; thereby established sales records of over 200 million dollars, many of the partaking acts earned the largest wages of their careers performing in Japan.
- Since 1985 produced ( amongst others) Aerosmith ( "Classics Live! I and II" ) and the Badlands debut "Badlands".
- Worked as a songwriter for example for Omen ( "Escape to Nowhere" ) and Metal Church ( "Hanging in the Balance" )

- Has taken part in the songwriting ( text, concepts and music ) of all the Savatage albums since 1986/87 ( "Hall of the Mountain King" ) and is exclusively occupied as manager / producer for Savatage since early 1995.

 

From RockHard Legends: Savatage
Translated by Ellen Bakvis.