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Trans-Siberian Orchestra founder Paul O'Neill dead at 61



Paul O'Neill, the Tampa-based rock composer and mastermind of one of the biggest touring acts in the world, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, has died at age 61.

The band announced O'Neill's death from a "chronic illness" on its website.

"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."

2012 INTERVIEW: Paul O'Neill: Christmas music meets the '80s ... and flame-throwers

O’Neill was found dead Wednesday afternoon by staff at an Embassy Suites hotel near the University of South Florida in Tampa, said USF Police spokeswoman Renna Reddick. There are no obvious signs of foul play; police are awaiting an official cause of death from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office. The hotel, where O’Neill was staying as a guest, declined to comment.

Forged in the gritty Central Florida metal scene, Trans-Siberian Orchestra became best known for their PBS fundraisers and spectacular holiday tours, which sold hundreds of thousands of tickets each year across America. The thundering Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) remains one of the most popular heavy holiday songs around.

"If you have a great song, that's great," O'Neill said in 2015, "but if you have a great production where the lights and the lasers and the pyro and everything else is going off in time, off of one nervous system, it helps to take it to a whole other level."

PHOTOS: Trans-Siberian Orchestra fills Amalie Arena with Christmas pomp and pyro

For much more on the death of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Paul O'Neill, click here.

-- Jay Cridlin

[Last modified: Thursday, April 6, 2017 4:31pm]


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