Paul O’Neill, producer and founder of TSO, dead at 61


Jessica Bonacci, News Editor

Founder of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) Paul O’Neill has died at 61 years old.

In a statement released on April 5 by TSO, the band confirmed that composer, lyricist and producer Paul O’ Neill has “passed away from chronic illness.”

O’Neill formed TSO in 1996, first recruiting Savatage collaborators Robert Kinkel and Jon Oliva to join the band’s writing team.

The band’s website includes statements from O’Neill explaining the idea behind TSO:

“The original concept of Trans-Siberian Orchestra was how to make music have the most emotional impact. We always try to write melodies that are so infectious they don’t need lyrics and lyrics so poetic that they don’t need a melody, but when you combine the two together they create an alloy where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Once those songs are woven together into a tapestry they create a story which gives each song a third dimension.”

Before creating TSO, O’ Neill had worked as a guitarist, a promoter and had produced a number of albums, including Aerosmith’s platinum “Classics Live, Volumes 1 & 2,” Savatage’s critically acclaimed “Hall of the Mountain King,” “Gutter Ballet,” the rock operas “Streets,” “Dead Winter Dead,” as well as the “Badlands” debut album.

Many of O’Neill’s collaborators shared their condolences.

One of the messages from collaborators included a Facebook post from TSO and Savatage guitarist Chris Caffrey, who shared that “[a]ll Paul ever wanted to do was change the world through his music…”

TSO vocalist Kayla Reeves shared that “I would go as far as to say he was truly the greatest person I’ve ever known” in a Facebook post detailing her experiences with O’Neill.

Contact the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @JBonacciTWW