Passings: Paul O'Neill, Founder of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (1956 - 2017)

by VVN Music

Paul O'Neill, the record producer who founded the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, died on Wednesday from a "chronic illness". He was 61.

O'Neill was found unresponsive in his room at the Tampa Embassy Suites by hotel staff on Wednesday afternoon. According to authorities, there was no sign of foul play although a medical examiner is looking into the situation.

A spokesperson for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra issued a statement saying:

The entire Trans-Siberian Orchestra family, past and present, is heartbroken to share the devastating news that Paul O’Neill has passed away from chronic illness.

He was our friend and our leader -- a truly creative spirit and an altruistic soul. This is a profound and indescribable loss for us all.

We ask that you respect Paul’s family’s privacy now.

We will make additional announcements shortly.

O'Neill was born and raised in New York where he began playing in rock bands while still in high school. In the mid-70's, he took his progressive band, Slowburn, into the studio and, even though their album was never released, Paul said it was the best experience of his life where he learned the basics of the music business.

During the 80's, O'Neill was a promoter in Japan working on tours and festivals with Madonna, Bon Jovi, Sting, Whitesnake and many others. As a producer, he worked on Aerosmith's Classics Live I and II. In 1987, he began a long relationship with the metal band Savatage, producing a number of albums and changing the bands sound to progressive rock.

O'Neill crowning achievement came in the mid-90's with the formation of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. His concept was to meld together a wide range of genres into something new and enhance it with a giant stage show.  Paul originally planned to make "six rock operas, a trilogy about Christmas and, maybe, one or two regular albums" with the band.

Their first album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories, was a smash out of the gate and remains one of their biggest albums. The single from the album, Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24, has become a holiday classic heard every year during Christmas programming. Christmas Eve went on to sell over three million copies.

They've since released five more albums, the last two of which went to the Billboard top ten (Night Castle (2009 / #5) and Letter From the Labyrinth (2015 / #7)). A soundtrack album, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve (2016 / #9) was also a major hit as was the EP Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night) (2012 / #9).

Even with its success on recordings, the TSO really shines in concert where O'Neill took it as "over the top as we can make it".

"We have, two stages -- with pyro, light and lasers -- on both sides of the arena, as well as in the crowd and the best sound we can find...There's no second-class seats at a Trans-Siberian Orchestra show. I want people to walk out of our shows speechless and...still not believing what they have seen was possible."

O'Neill is survive by his wife and a daughter.

No comments

Powered by Blogger.