The music world was rocked on Wednesday night, as we learned that the irreplaceable Paul O’Neill passed away due to a chronic illness. Chris Caffery could only post the word “Shattered” at the time the news broke, but now the legendary guitarist has shared a wonderful, and powerful tribute to his fallen friend.
Here’s what he had to say on his Facebook page: “When I was a teenager I used to hang out in the rock ‘n’ roll club scene of New York City. There was a club called L’Amour East that used to have a lot of national acts and I would pretty much go see every one! There was always this one guy there. I didn’t know who he was but he was always there. He had long hair and would wander around in a leather jacket with a white shirt. He seemed pretty important, he wasn’t in the bands but he was always with the bands. Later in the year when I was 17 I was hanging out at a club called Nirvana in New York City. I had met a couple different people that were managed by a company called Contemporary Communications. This company was formerly known as Leber & Krebs.They had managed just about every major rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet at the time. One of the people I ran into was the late great Allan Fryer from the band Heaven. I wound up getting an audition with the band and eventually got the gig. I remember walking into the offices of Contemporary Communications for the first time. All of a sudden I see that guy from the club! It was Mr. Paul Oneill. Paul managed and produced Heaven and my very first professional paycheck came from him when I was a 17-year-old kid. 33 years later I look back on my career and think of how lucky I am. How lucky I was to live just about every single dream I ever had as a kid about being a rock ‘n’ roll musician and a rockstar. The man who created that magic has passed away from us and the emptiness that I’m feeling cannot be described in words. They always say they are moments in your life in which from that moment on things will never be the same. Meeting Paul was one of those moments and losing Paul is definitely one of those moments as well. There are 1 million different things that I want to say right now. I can’t really put them into words. I’m praying for his family, his daughter especially. Im praying for all of us in the TSO and Savatage family we lost our big brother, a mentor…our hero…our leader. All Paul ever wanted to do was change the world through his music he did that and so much more. Rest In Peace Paul. It’s time to catch up on that sleep you have been missing for the past 20 years. I love you and I’m gonna miss u. – Chris.”