Mark McGee :

Mark, Criss and a fan.

Criss and I first met in Salt Lake City, Utah 1990 . A great show that was Savatage and Vicious Rumors. Both bands kicked ass and a mutual respect was very apparent. Little did I know that in the fall of 1991 Savatage and V.R. would conquer Europe together. It was one of my most memorable tours.

It's rare in one's life to become such close friends so quickly. Criss and I hung out alot together that tour. I don't know how to describe it but it's like we had been friends for years. I respected him greatly as a musician and a friend. He was a class act. Very witty and honest. I'll always think of Criss like a brother.

When Criss had his accident I completely freaked out. Never before had I felt such sadness and loss. I cherish the memories of the times we shared and am proud to have known this amazing human being. Criss will live on forever in the hearts of his loved ones, friends, fans and music!
Thank you for celebrating the memory of this wonderful man, Criss Oliva!!!

 

Larry Howe :

Do I remember Criss? OH BABY!!!!!!!! I dont know where to begin. You know, when our tour van crashed, those great guys took us in, to their bus! I dont know how familiar you may be with rock stars but that is rare!

I'm sorry that I can't seem to locate the shots I took on that tour. I remember I gave the one good shot I took of Criss to Mark Mcgee, it was a shot of the two of them doing this thing that Criss was fond of doing - "The Monster" Criss would make himself into a hunchback, then raise his hands in the air like big claws and go...GGRRRAAARRRRRRR!! It really caught on and by the end of the tour, everybody was doin' it!

Mark and Criss really hit it off together, I remember hangin out on the bus with them,watching the two of them playing air guitar together to U.F.O. They both highly admired Schenker and you could bet that they could each actually play what they were faking! That was a sight to remember!

Jon and Larry backstage.
Malmö, Sweden '91

All the guys in the band were great to us, I would always get in trouble for takin' Jon aside to smoke some hash! He loved to, but Dr. Killdrums, who pretty much played the mother hen of the group, would get real mad (he always had a hard time keeping those boys in control) he said I was screwing' up his voice, oops! sorry! We were just having fun and the people didn't mind if Jon missed a note, they were just happy to see a bunch of fun loving Americans rock!
And I cant forget the keyboard player, those guys constantly made fun of him, they called him "Zoner" I felt sorry for the guy that they basically had as "hired help" but he was an important part of their sound at that time.

When Criss died, all of us in Vicious Rumors at that time were extremely saddened, Mark proceeded to write a song dedicated to him called "Thunder And Rain" one of the lines was -"you've taken my brother,youve taken my friend"...Little did we know that as Carl sang those words for him, so would we too, soon be singing those words for our brother and friend, as Carl died in a car accident a few years later. Its not fair, these guys traveled the world in planes, trains, buses, and taxi's from hell, then-by some sick twist of fate, they lose it all when at home in their own cars.

That tour was a very exciting time in my life, and the friendliness of Savatage and Criss and their giving spirit is something I'll never forget!

 

Dave Starr :

When I look back on the 9 years that I spent with Vicious Rumors, I can think of many fond memories. One of the greatest times of all for VR was when we toured with Savatage in Europe 1991! This was a great time for both bands, and for the Metal fans in Europe. I remember at one show in Germany, a fan came up to me and said: "How lucky we are to have 2 great bands to see at the show tonight! Savatage and VR at one concert is such a treat for the power-metal fans here in Germany"! I will never forget that fans comments...

I remember a quote from Gene Simmons when he was talking about songs, he said: " Songs are not really songs in so much they are really a time capsule of your life...when you hear a song, you think of where you were when you first heard it, who you were with, and what you were doing...." That is so true for me....When I hear Savatage (specially the Streets cd) I think back to that time we all spent together in 1991, and how great we all got along day after day - even though we hardly knew them when the tour started! We all just seemed to click instantly from the first night!

<< Dave, Criss and Johnny - London UK '91

I can remember vividly a scene that involved Criss and Mark McGee. We were in Berlin, and they were talking backstage before the show about their favorite guitar players and the impact that they had on them. During the Savatage set, Criss decided to see if Mark was paying attention and he started to insert classic out-takes from famous solos from Marks guitar hero's!! Mark and I were standing on the side of the stage and we noticed that Chris was changing small parts of his solos and throwing in licks by Ace Frehley, Schenker, and others!! He kept this up all night! We were busting up! I don't know if any one else in Savatage knew what was going on, or anyone in the crowd either, but it kept the three of us laughing all night!

It is sad when people die for any reason, but more so when they are young, talented, and have made a living bringing joy to others...."the light that burns twice as bright-burns half as long"..... and the life and light that
was Criss Oliva burned very bright indeed..............

 

Geoff Thorpe :

In 1991, I had the pleasure of meeting and touring with Criss Oliva and Savatage.
As we beame friends about half way through the tour, we got into a bus accident and our part of the tour was over. Savatage took us on their bus, which was way over crowded already, and we finished the tour together. This act of brotherhood in the music industry is rare! It made me want to know Criss and in a short time we became great friends.

I was already a fan!! Savatage and VR was a perfect mix, I'll never forget Criss Oliva. Carl Albert, Mark McGee and I wrote a song for him, called "Thunder and Rain - Pt.1&2", on our "Word of Mouth" cd.
Sometimes I wonder if Criss and Carl have reconnected in the spirit world?...

Geoff and Criss >>

 

 

Sept. 1999
© Ellen Bakvis