Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Paul O’Neill dies aged 61

Paul O'Neill: 1956-2017
Paul O'Neill: 1956-2017

Trans-Siberian Orchestra founder Paul O’Neill has died at the age of 61.

The news was confirmed on the band’s Facebook page, saying his death was due to a “chronic illness.”

A statement reads: “The entire Trans-Siberian Orchestra family, past and present, is heartbroken to share the devastating news that Paul O’Neill has passed away from chronic illness.

“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.”

Composer, lyricist, producer and songwriter O’Neill formed Trans-Siberian Orchestra in 1996, bringing Savatage members Jon Oliva, Al Pitrelli and Robert Kinkel into the lineup.

They released Christmas Eve And Other Stories later that year – the first part of their ‘Christmas Trilogy’ rock opera which also featured 1998’s The Christmas Attic and 2004’s The Lost Christmas Eve.

Under O’Neill’s guidance, Trans-Siberian Orchestra have become one of the biggest touring acts in the world, known for their lavish stage productions and spectacular light shows. In 2009, Billboard ranked them as one of the Top 25 Touring Artists since 1999.

Prior to his work with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, O’Neill was a successful rock promoter in Japan and went on to become a producer with artists including Aerosmith, Metal Church and Savatage – the latter introducing him to Oliva and Pitrelli, paving the way to the formation of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The band’s last album was 2015’s Letters From The Labyrinth.

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Scott has spent more than 30 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.