By Jazz Monroe.
Paul O’Neill, who founded and led Trans-Siberian Orchestra, has died, TMZ reports. He was 61 years old. According to a post on the group’s Facebook, O’Neill died “from chronic illness.” Composer-producer O’Neill formed Trans-Siberian Orchestra from members of heavy-metal band Savatage. The surprise success of a song called “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24),” in 1995, spurred a pivot from dark metal operas to symphonic rock Christmas songs. They renamed the group, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra released their debut, Christmas Eve and Other Stories, in 1996.
TSO became internationally popular for their theatrical shows, largely involving heavy-metal takes on holiday songs. As a touring band, they were among the most prolific and highest-grossing of the early 21st century, performing to more than 5 million people between 2000 and 2009. Their policy of donating $1 per ticket to charity raised at least $11 million for good causes, according to the band’s website. In a statement, the band wrote, “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.” Read it in full below.
This story originally appeared on Pitchfork.
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