According to the web site of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, legendary SAVATAGE singer John Nicholas «Jon» Oliva was arrested earlier this week on the west central coast of Florida for driving under the influence as well as possession of a controlled substance.
The Pasco County Jail web site shows the 62-year-old musician was arrested at 3:43 a.m. on Thursday (September 30) and was released on bail less than 24 hours later — at 12:34 a.m. on Friday (October 1).
Police charged Oliva with possession of cocaine, which is a felony, and DUI, which is a misdemeanor.
Oliva’s booking photo released by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office shows him apparently wearing a hospital gown and sporting what appear to be fresh scrapes on his nose and left cheek, suggesting he may have been injured in an auto accident before being arrested.
More information on Oliva’s arrest can be found on the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office web site (where he is listed under booking number: 254418).
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.»
In addition to his work with SAVATAGE, Oliva is 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. Oliva has reportedly remained involved in TSO’s activities even after O’Neill’s April 2017 death of an accidental drug overdose.
This past March, Oliva revealed to «80’s Glam Metalcast» that he battled COVID-19 for two months last year. «I had it for eight weeks, and I wouldn’t have wished it on my worst enemy in the world,» he said. «I would not have wished it on anybody. It was brutal — it really was. It sucked. But I’m okay now. And I’m gonna be getting my vaccination here in the next week or so. And that’s it. So I lived through it. [Laughs] They don’t want me in Heaven. Christ doesn’t me up there because the first thing I’m doing when I get to Heaven is I’m punching Paul O’Neill and Criss Oliva [late SAVATAGE guitarist and Jon’s brother] in the face.»
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