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PAUL O'NEILL,
1956-2017

Trans-Siberian Orchestra founder Paul O’Neill, who forged a previously untapped holiday touring market in the 1990s, has died from a chronic illness. He was 61.

His death was announced on the band’s Facebook page with a note reading “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.”

His body was found in a Tampa, Fla., hotel room on Wednesday afternoon.

Known as a hard rock and heavy metal producer who worked with AerosmithMichael Schenker and Omen, O’Neill’s start in the music business was as a personal assistant to manager David Krebs. He promoted concerts in Japan in the 1980s.

He worked with Savatage on several concept albums and recruited its members to create a hard rock opera focused on Christmas that would be released under the title of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Their first release, 1996’s Christmas Eve and Other Stories, would go on to be certified 3X platinum despite never reaching the Top 40. It contained their most popular track, “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” which would receive airplay and chart multiple times for more than a dozen years.

More importantly, the album launched Trans-Siberian Orchestra as an annual holiday touring staple, one that would become a Top 10 ticket seller throughout the 2000s. The band’s popularity reached the point where it was able to to send two editions of the band on the road to meet the demands at theaters and arenas.

In 2009, for example, Pollstar reported that they grossed $43.7m for the year, putting them at #14 between Miley Cyrus and The Eagles. A year later, after they added a spring tour, they rose to #7 on a gross of $52.4m.

Their eighth and final album,  Letters From the Labyrinth, was released on Decca/Lava/Republic in 2015. It was one of only two of their records to hit the Top 10; four of their other albums were certified platinum.

 

 

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