I began playing guitar at the age of 11. Back to my earliest
memories, I always wanted to be a guitarist. Music was just about all I wanted
to do since I was 5. My first performance was singing The Beatles song "Help",
for a show and tell in kindergarten! My favorite bands were the Beatles, Kiss,
Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Rush and many other classic metal bands. I had
many favorite guitarists; Ted Nugent, Rick Emmett, Ace Frehley, Randy Rhoads,
Michael Schenker, to name a few.
I took about 13 months of guitar lessons, I was bored of Mel
Bay and decided to teach myself. I had a band in Middle School called "Blitzkrieg",
we did a few shows, the first being at a bar in Ridgewood, New Jersey when I
was in 13. When I was 14 my brother and I formed a band called "Anti".
We found a bassist in "The Aquarian" now called "The East Coast
Rocker". His name was Darryl Sage, to this day his is one of my best friends.
We owned my infamous house in Ringwood, New Jersey together. Anti found a singer
named Blaze and we began to play out. We did half originals and covers. We opened
for many national acts when I was in High School, bands like Mountain, Metallica,
Overkill, Steppenwolf, and Blackfoot. I remember I would get an hour of sleep
and then go to school. I graduated High School at 16, and went straight into
being a professional musician. I taught about 30 students and played out at
We did well as a band, but had trouble with our vocalists,
never finding the right one. There were about four demo tapes floating around.
The first I did was at the age of 14. I did one at the age of 17 and it got
me my first national gig. I was hanging out in New York City in a club called
"Nirvana", it was right in the middle of Times Square, a very cool
place to hang out. I met the singer of the band "Heaven", his name
was Allan Fryar. I heard that they were looking for a guitarist and I asked
if I could get him a tape. The next week I did, and he called me and asked me
to join. I guess he liked it! It turns out that they needed a drummer too, and
my brother Phil, joined also. The band was managed by David Krebs and Paul O'Neill.
Paul produced as well. This is where I met Paul and began my relationship with
him and David, one that still lasts 16 years later! Paul is still wearing the
same thing as the day I met him! Heaven had a CD out called "Knockin' on
Heaven's Door", it was on Columbia Records and contained versions that
I believe was listened to by someone in Guns N Roses!!!!
Heaven was leaving Columbia Records. I did some shows with
them at the end of the tour and we went into the studio to record a new demo.
Allan actually sung on the tapes of some Anti songs, this inspired David to
get us into the studio. Opening for Heaven at the shows I did were Skidd Row
on the East Coast and Warrant on the West. Skidd Row did not have Sebastian
at the time and actually asked me to join, I turned it down, duh! Paul O'Neill
was then introduced to Savatage by Jason Flom at Atlantic Records. He flew to
Florida and began working with them. They agreed to have Paul produce Hall of
the Mountain King. Soon Savatage was in New York recording the CD. Paul invited
me to the studio and introduced me to the band. Heaven was not working with
David and Paul anymore, but David and Paul wanted to keep working with my brother
and myself. We started looking for singers again. One guy we turned onto was
Sebastian, oddly enough, we never got him to New York in time, and soon he was
in Skidd Row. Paul had mentioned to me that he wanted a second guitarist in
Savatage. Something that would take some time to settle in with the Oliva brothers.
I learned all of the Savatage songs and when Savatage was booked on the Dio/Megadeth
tour in '87-88, Paul asked if I would go with them.
The band hired a kid in Florida. I was very upset and asked
to fly myself down to audition. I was given the opportunity and played just
2 songs before the band stopped and hired me on the spot. We gelled musically,
instantly. I loved the music and Criss was very happy with how it sounded. We
went on the tour and it was very odd. I was kept on the side of the stage, eventually
I was hidden. It was too weird for the band. I was 20 and playing arenas, I
was happy but miserable. I left after the arena tour and went home dazed and
confused, but definitely a road dog!!!!
I became friendly with the metal department at Atlantic Records.
They asked if I would audition for a band they signed called Big Mouth. I got
the gig and and did the record. I wrote a song, played some lead and rhythm.
I was in a pretty silly video that was on MTV before I turned 21. Oddly enough
the band actually was ahead of its time, musically. Rock-n Rap hadn't even started
yet. We toured opening for the band The Dickies, it was fun but not for me.
The band was not getting along with the label, the metal department suggested
I try out for Dirty Looks. I got the gig... good trend to have!!!!!
We recorded demos for the second CD with Beau Hill producing.
Atlantic wanted to use him because of his success with Ratt and Warrant. The
singer, who was a strange cat, hated Beau. So, we used someone else and it was
not good. The label was not happy. I did not get along with the singer at all.
I loved the drummer, Gene. He was a great friend. The original drummer in Doctor
Butcher. The singer wanted me to play things his way, or no way. I left soon
after to re-join Savatage, officially.
I ran into the Oliva's while they were recording Gutter Ballet,
we missed each other a lot and they called me a few days later to come to the
city and talk. They asked me to join. I gladly accepted. Since the CD was just
about done, I figured it was useless to spend the time and money to record new
tracks. Criss did offer it to me. I never got credit on the Dirty Looks CD,
which I wrote 5 songs and played all the basic tracks. Oh well.. life goes on.
Savatage was on the road for a long time supporting Gutter Ballet. The road
took its toll on all of us. I was receiving a lot of pressure from my brother
to find a singer and quit. A decision I regret very much, I lost some very precious
time with Criss.
I called the band Witchdoctor. I recruited Hal Patino from
King Diamond on bass. We toured in Europe together. The keyboard player was
from Anti His name was Doug Kistner. He toured with the first TSO West!!!! Yes,
I got him the audition. My brother and I were not clicking musically, at all.
I had a few demos recorded. The first versions of the Butcher songs The Altar
and Born of the Board were on the tapes. It was a tug of war between rock and
metal and we eventually called it a day. It was then that I was contacted to
join Savatage on the Streets tour. Things did not materialize and the band pulled
off the road for personal reasons. I was upset, but had learned that Jon Oliva
had left the band. I called Jon and he asked me to come to Florida and hang
out with him. It was over about 10 bottles of Jack Daniels that Doctor Butcher
was born. We had so much fun with this band. We were still huge in the band's
home town of Tampa and lived in the local clubs at night. Writing Butcher songs
in between beer runs!!!!
Savatage replaced Jon with Zak Stevens, this was the only thing
that stopped Criss from actually being in Butcher! Jon worked with Criss on
Edge of Thorns We eventually did Butcher demos with Hal Patino and Gene Barnett.
We landed a deal with Atlantic Records and began pre-production for the CD.
Criss and Zak asked me to re-join Savatage but I was loyal to Jon and Butcher.
Unfortunately there was some bad press about Jon's health. This forced Atlantic
to decide between Butcher and Savatage. They went with Savatage. I was tired
I began working with a long time friend of mine, Ray Gillen,
in a project called Sun Red Sun. Later that year, Criss Oliva passed away. Savatage
was unsure if its future. Weeks later after that Ray Gillen passed away. It
was a mental disaster!!! I was asked to re-join Savatage, however I was not
really ready mentally or as a player to take over the band. Atlantic suggested
the band use Alex Skolnik, who I worked with now in TSO East. Butcher continued
to write and eventually landed a European deal. We recorded the Debut in 1994,
just before Jon left to do the Handful of Rain tour. We never toured the CD
due to Jon's commitment to the record the follow up Savatage CD.
It was by then that I decided to ask Jon about re-joining Savatage.
The spirit of Criss was not in the band live, and I felt the need to give it
a shot. I slept with my guitar for a year and was rehired during the recording
of Dead Winter Dead. A long time friend of mine, Al Pitrelli, was hired as my
partner and we had a steady line up for 6 years. The group took over the European
Metal scene. The Wake of Magellan tour and CD propelled us to the top of most
of the metal charts. A place we saw in the US in 1990.
During this time I recorded with Joe Lynn Turner, TM Stevens,
as well as produced and recorded the Metalium CD. I was on Tribute CD's for
Guns N Roses, Accept and Iron Maiden. The Maiden CD was with Jeff Plate and
my long time and newly re acquainted best friend, John West. We did a tour of
Europe called American Rock Live. It was a fun thing. The drummer was Mike Terrana
from Malmsteen. It was through this that I hooked up with Metalium. Savatage
was stalled a bit in the recording a follow up to Wake due to the tremendous
success of our then "Side Project" Trans Siberian Orchestra. An album
written and recorded around Savatage's song "Christmas Eve", it has
since gone platinum in America with a gold follow up, "The Christmas Attic".
" The tours are amazingly successful. Two simultaneous sold out tours at
Christmas each year. TSO East and West. I am kinda the onstage ring leader of
TSO East. It's a very fun gig. The band also recorded a non Christmas CD called
"Beethoven's Last Night". The tour for this album will take place
in 2003. We also recorded a song for The Grinch movie and soundtrack. Every
year TSO gets bigger and bigger, the 2002 tour moves to many arenas. Very impressive
for a band that started from a vision Paul O'Neill had of the Christmas Eve
song back at the time of Heaven!!!!
Al Pitrelli had left Savatage during the recording of Poets
and Madmen, shortly thereafter so did vocalist, Zak Stevens. Al joined Megadeth,
Zak needed some time with his family. Jon finished the vocals on Poets himself.
We kept a few of Al's solos on the CD. Poets and Madmen was release and I go
my opportunity to play sole lead guitarist on the tour. We hired rhythm guitarist,
Jack Frost who, oddly enough, replaced me in Metalium... big circles here!!!
We toured all over the world, highlighted by a dream tour for myself opening
for Judas Priest in Europe. This was the band I met at age 12. I was asked then
by guitarist KK Downing what I wanted to do when I grew up. I said... "I
wanted to be just like him!" The tour ended in February of 2002 after a
postponed European tour was finished. The attacks of September 11th caused us
all to be cautious in 2001.
When Megadeth disbanded in early 2002, Al Pitrelli and I were
speaking about a side project, instead I just decided it was the right time
for him to rejoin the band. Al and I had gotten very close in the years that
he left for Megadeth and we wanted to work together again. He was already back
in TSO and had never left the family anyway. Jack did a great job on the tour
and now works full time with his band, Seven Witches.
Savatage is working on a new CD that will feature Al and myself
on lead guitar. It will also feature the lead singing of Jon Oliva along with
our new Savatage vocalist, Damond Jiniya. I will be helping Zak Stevens on his
first solo CD. This should be out next in early 2003. Recently, John West recorded
his new solo CD called Earthmaker. I played guitars along with Mike Clasciak
from the band Halford. This will be released world wide in September. I am also
hoping to get a side project I have with Blitz from Overkill off the ground
this year, too. A post nuclear Black Sabbath!!!
So... there have been a whole lot of CD's, a bunch of world
tours covering all of Europe, North America, Japan and Brazil. I have made a
ton of good friends in the bands, the fans and the countless business people
that help make this crazy business go round. Yes, I am very busy... at the age
of 5 I wanted to be a rock star... I am living my dreams. I don't sleep much...
It has reached June of 2003 and I wanted to add a quick update
to my autobiography. We entered the arenas in force and did a total of 8 matinees.
It is still so unbelievable to watch this phenom grow. We are adding at least
an extra week to each tour in 2003!!!
Most of 2003 has been spent writing. Savatage, John West, TSO...
and so far 35 songs with myself on vocals. In the process of writing this past
year I had started to drop a few of my vocal melodies into my computer. I knew
it was not brilliant, however, there was a tone I really liked in my voice.
It was angry! I started to record finished songs. Little by little, month by
month, things started to develop. I have begun to turn even the most skeptical
into firm believers. As I write now I am very surprised with the progress of
my voice and hope to have a solo CD recorded and released sometime in the next
The project with Blitz has been put on hold as Overkill hits
the road again. I have been in the studio a few times writing and developing
John West's newest solo adventure. I was also privileged to play another guitar
solo on Joe Lynn Turner's latest CD. I believe it will be released this June.
The Circle II Circle CD featuring Zak Stevens was released
in April. It has been doing very well and includes three of my songs. I also
got to play the guitars on these numbers. They are the songs "Face To Face",
"Sea of White" and "Out of Reach".
In the middle of my personal writing mayhem...writing and recording
continues for both Savatage and TSO. New CD's from both will be showing up in
the stores in the near future.
The summer should be a very creative and productive period
for all involved in my life. I am going to seriously dive into a couple books
I have been planning to write. The first is a children's story.
In the meantime...I just wanted to add a little tag to this
story here and "I will be back!"
It is now September 26, 2004, I think it is about time to update
this autobiography! Oddly enough I read where I stopped and I am back... it
is a little over 12 months later and my solo CD "Faces" has just been
released. Not much longer after I last wrote here I was flown to Athens, Greece
to meet with Black Lotus Records. I signed my recording contract with them during
the 2003 TSO tour. That tour was extremely successful...
The tour was highlighted by an appearance on the Regis and
Kelly show. I spent most of the tour working on finalizing the songs for my
CD. I had about 65 written when I was ready to go in the studio. I had also
started taking vocal lessons with Don Lawrence, a very well known teacher in
New York City.
In January of 2004 I began pre-production for my very first
solo CD ever. Recording began in February. The studio diaries can be found on
here on this web-site.
Jeff Plate took care of the drumming duties, Dave Z the bass
and Paul Morris the keyboards and piano.
The CD was recorded at Spin Studios in Astoria, NYCity. I produced
the CD with co-producer/engineer Nik Chinboukas. The recording and mixing were
finished in May. Because of the abundance of material I decided to record 30
songs. There are 2 CD’s recorded. "Faces" and "God Damn
I had also entered the studio to play some guitars on the 4th
TSO studio CD. The CD is to be released on October 12th.
I flew to Athens, Greece to Master the CD at Athens Mastering
in June. Shortly thereafter I returned to Europe to begin my promotional tour.
The CD was to be a double release. "Faces" with 9 of the songs from
"God Damn War" as a free bonus CD.
The promotional tour led me through Greece, Germany, Holland, Austria, France,
Italy, Spain, Finland, Poland and Norway. To date I have done over 250 interviews
for the release!
In August I flew to Germany to be a special guest for Doro
Pesch at the 15th Anniversary of Wacken. The premier Heavy Metal Festival in
Europe. I played 3 songs with Doro and her Classic Metal Orchestra. The performance
was very memorable. The next night I also appeared as a special guest with Saxon.
I got to play "Denim and Leather" with the band. As a huge fan, this
was a great honor!
The first single for "Faces" was released on September
1st in Europe. It was called "The Mold". It contained 3 songs from
the release and 2 unreleased bonus tracks. To date I believe it has just about
sold out everywhere!
On September 11th I headed to Florida to rehearse for a WOMD/Savatage
appearance as the headliner of the Prog Power festival in Atlanta. The show
was to feature Jon Oliva, former Savatage vocalist Zak Stevens, original Savatage
drummer Steve Wacholz and myself. We were called "Weapons of Mass Destruction"
because although we were to play all Savatage material, it was not all of the
members of the current Savatage line-up.
Zak Stevens had a terrible accident the week prior to the show
and lost part of his right middle finger. He was unable to appear. The show
then featured the first lead vocal performance for myself ever. I sang "Edge
of Thorns" and "Power of the Night". The show was sold for months
and the whole weekend was a ton of fun!
I returned home for more interviews and as I type the release
of "Faces" in Europe happened 2 days ago. I just returned from the
QVC TV studios. TSO was debuting its new CD and selling them on TV. It is almost
time for rehearsals... In the next few weeks I will enter the studio to record
a few new songs for different releases of "Faces" and the final release
of "God Damn War".
JULY 14, 2006 - Wow... recently a fan had made me aware of
my outdated autobiography here! Much has happened since the release of "Faces".
There has been 2 TSO Tours. The last one we sold over 700,000 tickets! Both
tours included shows at Madison Square Garden. My local newspaper from where
I grew up did a story on me in 2004 because I had written about wanting to play
the Garden in my High School Year Book!
2004 unfortunately saw the passing of one of my best friends
and mentors. Daryl Pediford passed away just before the TSO tour. This put a
really strange vibe on the tour and my life that continues to this day.
I released a few more CD’'s... There was the "Music
Man" EP. This included a few holiday songs I wrote. The sample of the one
instrumental "What Child Is This" was downloaded over 350,000 times
here at CC.com! It is not available on I-Tunes along with all of my other stuff!
In January of 2005 I returned into the studio to finish the
God Damn War CD. The result was W.A.R.P.E.D.! Yes, I decided to change the name
of the full length war CD. This was for many reasons. Yes, religion, TSO and
the GD word was one. I was not asked to change it. I did it out of respect for
the audience that may be offended by the title.
The full length CD contained over 30 minutes of new music including
the song "Iraq Attack". This was originally written for the first
Butcher CD. So... Jon Oliva came in to sing the song! At the same time he sang
"Inspecter Highway" as a bonus track for the re-release of the classic
Doctor Butcher CD. Butcher and WARPED were released at different times all over
the world in Spring, Summer and Fall of 2005!
2005 also included my first solo shows! The live band consisted
of a few different configurations. The touring version hit Europe with Metal
Church and the US with Jon Oliva’s Pain and Beyond Fear Featuring Ripper
Owens from Judas Priest! This bad was myself on guitar and lead vocals. Jeff
Plate on drums, Paul LaPlaca on guitar and keys, Ira Black from Vicious Rumors
on guitar and Nick Douglas from Doro on bass. Many a Spinal Tap moment occurred,
but it was great to get out and play live! Jon was supporting his first solo
CD which I had a couple of song writing credits on. Great stuff!
After the 2005 TSO tour I took a few weeks off and headed back
into the studio to begin my newest solo adventure. Early in the year we saw
a re-design of CC.Com. The amazing job was done by Marc at ETW Design! We are
only beginning to make things happen here. The future should be a lot of fun
as we take full advantage of technology.
The recording of the CD was once again done by Nik Chinboukas.
Much of the actual tracking was done at Nik's studio this time. Several things
were still done at Spin studios, but we spent much more time writing and re-arranging
this stuff. As I type the CD is almost mixed. Unfortunately Black Lotus Records
saw their end in May. A product of the changing music industry. As I type I
am still looking for a home for the new CD. The title is "Pins and Needles"
as many of you already know!
The drums on this CD were handled by Yael. She is a friend
of Nik's. I think you will hear a huge change in the feel from her style! It
is so aggressive and marries the music perfectly! My brother Phil did the drum
track for the only ballad on the CD. I was so excited to have him play on the
song! The bass was handled by myself and Nick Douglas. The keys by Paul Morris,
Paul LaPlaca, Nik Chinboukas and Dave Eggar. Dave Eggar also handled the live
strings on the CD along with Lucia Micarelli from Jethro Tull! Marcus DeLoach
from TSO added a hand in back-up vocal land with an opera part on "The
Time". Alex Skolnick added a solo at the end of the song "Sad".
I am so proud of this CD and cannot wait for you all to hear it!
2006 saw the release of a new solo CD from John West. It is
called "Long Time No Sing". I wrote a couple of songs and played the
rhythm guitars, John had successfully recovered from throat cancer and I am
so happy for him that this CD is done and out!
I only did one show in 2006. this was the Lorca Rock Festival
in Spain. I was not planning on touring until after the release of Pins but
got the opportunity to play at Lorca and wanted to go and have some fun! Fun
we did! Nick Douglas, Paul LaPlaca and myself were joined onstage by none other
than Steve "Dr. Killdrums" Wacholz. For those of you who may not know,
Steve is the original drummer in Savatage and appeared on every CD from the
beginning til "Handful of Rain" in 1994. The show went extremely well.
Reviews and pics are up on the message boards and will be up here shortly. The
crowd was so enthusiastic. Made me want to do another hundred shows right away!
My... My Space page has exploded! As I type I have over 12,700
friends and 50,000 profile views! www.myspace.com/chriscaffery
It is really great to see all of the fans from all over the world and so flattering
to read all of the kind comments!
As I type the future is both certain and uncertain. Certain
that TSO will tour beginning in Nov. TSO East will do over 60 shows this year!
Certain that I will finish my CD and prepare it to be released. Certain that
I will be getting a new custon guitar from Jackson very soon! Certain that I
will do magazine adds for both Jackson Guitars and GHS Strings! Uncertain as
to exactly who will release it and when!!!!
Thanks for all of your support. CC.Com had its busiest year
ever the past 12 months. Over 600,000 visits! Keep an eye out here for updates,
song samples and the regular insanity and thanks for letting my life be a part
'Til I type again! Chris