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Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Jon Oliva shares 10 albums that changed his life

With his first solo LP “Raise the Curtain,” Jon Oliva debuts progressive songs in the vein of ELP, Yes and Kansas. Here are 10 albums that inspired him.

By Patrick Prince

Vocalist Jon Oliva started the band Savatage 30 years ago with his brother, guitarist Criss Oliva. Savatage released 11 studio albums since its formation; Jon Oliva also has ventured into other projects.

Jon Oliva Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Jon Oliva's resume includes time with Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Publicity photo.

In 1993, he became the vocalist for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra; the progressive music outfit has sold more than 9 million concert tickets and more than 8 million albums. In 2003, he formed Jon Oliva’s Pain.

With his first official solo album, “Raise the Curtain,” Jon Oliva has composed progressive songs in the vein of ELP, Yes and Kansas.

He found cassette tapes that his brother, Criss, had recorded guitar riffs on years ago (Criss was killed in a car accident in 1993), and from those tapes, he launched the songwriting of “Raise the Curtain.” The album is a tribute to Oliva’s brother, as much as to his own musical talent.

So what music inspired this talented artist? Here are his 10 vital albums.

The Beatles Revolver

The Beatles, Revolver

“Revolver,” just because it was the first album I ever bought. And [John] Lennon and [Paul] McCartney, their voices are untouchable, especially when they harmonized together.

The Bealtes White Album

The Beatles, The Beatles

(aka The White Album)
See No. 1.

UFO Obsession

UFO, Obsession

It was an album that Criss [Oliva] and I used to practice guitar to constantly. He played that album five times a day. I think we actually bought that album, like, four times, because Criss wore it out. I always liked the songs on that. That was their best work by far. The song “Lookin’ Out for No. 1” is a masterpiece. And there were good harmonies. I always loved that.

Scorpions Taken By Force

Scorpions, Taken By Force

Love that. Uli [Roth]’s guitar playing on that was phenomenal, and Klaus [Meine]’s voice was phenomenal, and the song “The Sails of Charon” is still one of the best hard-rock songs ever recorded or written.

Emerson Lake and Palmer Brain Salad Surgery

Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery

I like the fact that Greg Lake sounded like Greg Lake, and no one else can sound like him. Greg’s voice is very, very unique. I thought some of the stuff that he did — trying to sing to all that crazy keyboard stuff going on — was quite impressive.

Queen Sheer Heart Attack

Queen, Sheer Heart Attack

I was always into great singing and backup vocals, and that’s Queen: “Sheer Heart Attack.”

Yes Fragile

Yes, Fragile

Jon’s [Anderson] worked with us with TSO, and I’ve gotten to meet him, and he’s a very lovely guy. But actually, for me, Yes was more Chris Squire’s bass playing. And I love their backup singing, too.

Deep Purple Machine Head

Deep Purple, Machine Head

I love Ian Gillan.

Deep Purple In Rock

Deep Purple, In Rock

See above.

Black Sabbath Black Sabbath album

Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath

It was because of Tony Iommi, because he was left-handed and I’m left-handed. And that was the first concert I ever saw in my life. After that, that changed my life forever and ever and ever. 

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