JON OLIVA Opens Up About Arrest For DUI, Cocaine Possession: 'They're Trying To F*** Me Because I'm A Supposed Rock Star'

April 21, 2023

In a new interview with Sakis Fragos of Rock Hard Greece, SAVATAGE frontman Jon Oliva, who is also well known for co-creating the classical music-meets-prog rock and pyro act TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA alongside the project's founder Paul O'Neill, spoke about his plans to eventually retire from recording music and touring. He said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I wanna do the [new] SAVA [studio] album and do one final tour and then I'm packing it in. I'm done with this whole shit. Everybody I know is dead. My wife died. My son died. My father died. I'm on probation. I can't drive. And they're trying to fuck me because I'm a supposed rock star. They keep trying to, like, catch me. And I'm, like, 'Dude, I'm not doing anything. I can't go anywhere. Leave me alone.'"

Regarding his son's passing, Jon said: "He died in January. He was actually my stepson, but I was more like a father to him than anybody. And I was very close with him. And he died. He O.D.ed on January, I think it was 23rd."

Oliva also opened up about his wife's death, saying: "Me and my son Nicholas, we knew it. We were just watching my wife. And I remember telling Nick, I said, 'Dude, I'm terrified. 'Cause I'm gonna come home one day from the studio, and she's gonna be dead on the floor.' And that's exactly what happened… My stepson dies, and then my wife dies, and then my father dies. It's, like, I'm looking up and heaven, going, 'Is that all you've got, motherfuckers?' It's, like, 'Come on, man. Enough already.'

"People don't realize what I have gone through on a personal [level]," Jon continued. "They don't know. It's hard. It's really hard. And I've had to deal with a lot of shit. 'Why aren't you making any music?' Well, fuck you. Why don't you try? Everybody I know is dead. And [people say], 'Why aren't you making any music?' Well, fuck you. You come and try."

Jon also talked about his September 2021 arrest on the west central coast of Florida for driving under the influence as well as possession of a controlled substance. Police charged Oliva with possession of cocaine, which is a felony, and DUI, which is a misdemeanor. Asked if his charges will make it difficult for him to travel and do tours, he said: "No, because when I went to court, before the TSO tour, and I went in front of this judge. And I found out she was a TSO fan. She had gone to, like, 10 [shows over the years]. And this has never happened before. She sat there and she goes. 'Wow. It looks like you have a good job. By the way, you're very talented. I love your music. And I'm gonna suspend your probation so you go out on tour.' And when I went to the probation office and I told the probation officer, I go, 'She suspended [my probation].' He goes, 'This is unheard of. This never happens.' I handed him the paper from the judge, and he goes, 'I have a problem with this.' I went, 'Why?' Because I had one mistake in 63 years. I didn't hurt anybody, except I wrecked my truck. Okay, yeah, perish the thought — I had drugs on me. You probably do more drugs than I did. It's, like, I didn't hurt anybody. So why don't you guys just get off of my back? And then I have this friend of mine that works for the probation department in Pasco County, Florida, and she goes, 'Oh, we've had meetings about you.' 'What do you mean meetings about me?' She goes, 'They're gonna try to make an example out of you. They're gonna try to trip you up and catch you and then put you in jail.' I'm, like, 'Thanks a lot for fucking telling me.' 'You're a celebrity, Jon Oliva.' I'm, like, 'I'm not a celebrity.' I'm not."

According to a Florida Highway Patrol arrest report, police and EMS responded to a single-vehicle crash on U.S. Hwy 41 (SR-45) shortly before 1:00 a.m. local time on September 30, 2021 in Pasco County, Florida. In his report, the responding officer wrote: "When I arrived on scene the driver of the vehicle was out and away from his pickup truck being checked by EMS. I observed a pickup truck with severe damage to the front right of the vehicle. The passenger side door had been ripped off the collision with the tree that the vehicle had struck. Mr. Oliva was the driver of the vehicle. On scene Mr. Oliva fainted and hit the ground while EMS was checking on him. Due to this reason Mr. Oliva was flown off the scene and taken to [the hospital]."

The responding officer later spoke to Oliva at the hospital and said that Jon "stated he did have a couple orange juice and vodkas" earlier that day. But when the officer told Oliva that he found a bag of white powder substance that tested positive for cocaine, Oliva claimed that someone gave him that for his birthday. Asked if he used cocaine, Oliva replied: "I dabble around with it." Meanwhile, Oliva stated to numerous nurses at the hospital that the cocaine was his, according to the police report, and the nurses at hospital listened as Oliva "yelled at his wife on the phone about the cocaine being in his car," the officer wrote. When the officer searched Oliva's property, another clear plastic bag containing residue of a white substance was found in a pack of cigarettes in Oliva's bag.

Back in 2016, Jon announced on social media that he suffered a stroke in April of that year. At the time, he said: "It was not as serious as it could have been, but it did leave me with some physical recovery challenges often associated with strokes."

Despite his health issues, Jon said that he didn't regret the way he had lived his life. He wrote: "I lived the rock 'n' roll lifestyle since I was 18. It's all I knew and I enjoyed the ride very much. But there comes a time in everyone's life where you have to step back and make some life-changing decisions... which I have."

Shortly after SAVATAGE's reunion performance at the 2015 Wacken Open Air festival in Wacken, Germany, Oliva claimed that he felt better than he had in 20 years because he had "stopped drinking and eating" in preparation for the concert. He explained: "It's my voice that's freaking me out, because, even when I was in my late 20s, early 30s, doing songs like '24 Hours Ago' were always really hard to do. And, of course, I didn't realize that it was all the drugs and alcohol I was doing. But, after doing that, getting my act together and stuff, singing '24 Hours Ago', it's actually easy now. [Laughs]"

In the past, Oliva has spoken openly about going a "little too far" during SAVATAGE's 1988 tour with MEGADETH and living the "rock 'n' roll life" that eventually forced him to seek treatment at a chemical rehabilitation center. As a result, SAVATAGE had to cancel a scheduled tour, including European dates.

In 2012, Oliva told Metal Blast about his early problems with drugs and alcohol: "We were crazy, but we were having so much fun. We were all in our prime, just loving to have a great time. Back then, you just got caught up in it; before you even realized you had a drug problem, it was already too late, because everywhere you went people were giving you pot, coke, a drink… I mean, I never went anywhere from 1984 to 2001 when someone hadn't tried to give me drugs or alcohol."

Oliva has reportedly remained involved in TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA's activities even after O'Neill's April 2017 death of an accidental drug overdose.

Jon's brother Criss, who was one of the founding members of SAVATAGE, was killed in October 1993 by a drunk driver when he and his wife Dawn were en route to the Livestock festival in Zephyrhills, Florida. The driver of the other car was found to have a drunk driving record of seven prior DUIs and having a blood alcohol content of .294 percent.

Booking photo courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office

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