Christopher Michael Oliva is a co-writer, the lead guitarist and co-founder of the rock music band “Savatage” born on April 3, 1963, Pompton Plains, NJ.

Criss Oliva one of the greatest guitar player and musical geniuses was killed by a car accident involving a drunk driver on October 17, 1993.

Criss found music when he was in California and continued his musical journey to Florida. Criss Oliva and his eldest brother Jon Oliva together formed the band “Avatar” in 1978. Criss and Jon met Steve Wacholz for the first time in 1980. They later on started practicing in a shack behind Oliva home. This made them name the shack "The Pit". Steve was given a nickname “Doctor Hardware Killdrums” that would follow him through out his career.

Criss Oliva - Savatage
Criss Oliva - Savatage

Keith Collins joined the band in 1981 to relieve Jon from his bass guitar duties and the band released Extended Play on Par Records. They renamed the band name as ‘Savatage’ in the year 1983 due to copyright issues. The albums ‘Sirens’ in 1983 and ‘The Dungeons Are Calling’ in 1985 are the first two albums released by Savatage on Par Records. Criss married his girlfriend Dawn Hoppert in 1984. They signed with ‘Atlantic Records’ in 1985 and released 6 albums. The Savatage band worked together with producer Paul O’Neill in 1987’s album ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ and this was considered the ‘Golden Age’ of Savatage.

Criss Oliva’s biggest dream was to achieve platinum grade for the album ‘Streets: A Rock Opera’ in 1991. Savatage’s ‘Streets’ was the biggest success and Criss enjoyed the bands success. He won many fans for his unique playing style, including Megadeth and Dave Mustaine, this record allowed new fans to their music.

Criss albums included ‘The Dungeons Are Calling” in 1985, ‘Power of The Night’ in 1985, ‘Gutter Ballet’ in 1990 and ‘Streets: A Rock Opera’ in 1991.