SAVATAGE legend JON OLIVA arrested for DUI, cocaine possession
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.
According to a Florida Highway Patrol arrest report, police and EMS responded to a single-vehicle crash on U.S. Hwy 41 (SR-45) shortly before 1:00 a.m. local time on Thursday, September 30 in Pasco County, Florida. In his report, the responding officer wrote: “When I arrived on scene the driver of the vehicle was out and away from his pickup truck being checked by EMS. I observed a pickup truck with severe damage to the front right of the vehicle. The passenger side door had been ripped off the collision with the tree that the vehicle had struck. Mr. Oliva was the driver of the vehicle. On scene Mr. Oliva fainted and hit the ground while EMS was checking on him. Due to this reason Mr. Oliva was flown off the scene and taken to [the hospital].
“On scene I Conducted an inventory of the vehicle,” the officer continued. “In the vehicle I located two empty bottles of vodka. I also found a small clear bag with an unknown white substance. The unknown substance would be field tested and would show a positive hit for cocaine. The clear plastic bag with the unknown white substance was located right on the floor outside the driver’s side door. I then spoke to a witness via telephone. The first witness I spoke with told me that he was driving northbound on U.S. Hwy 41 (opposite way of Mr. Oliva) and watched as the vehicle drove into his lane and then off the roadway and heard a loud bang. [The witness] told me he then turned his car around and went to check on the driver of the vehicle. [He] witnessed Mr. Oliva at the driver’s wheel. I then spoke to another witness who lives directly across the street from where the accident happened. [The second witness] told me he was working outside when he heard the accident happen right across the street. [The second witness] told me he went over to where the crash happened and watched as the vehicle was smoking and the driver was in the driver’s seat. [The second witness] told me that he tried to get the driver of the vehicle away from the vehicle due to it smoking. [The second witness] told me that there was another empty bottle of vodka in the driver’s side door that he told the driver to throw away because it doesn’t look good. [The second witness] told me that the driver was frantically looking his phone.
“At this time, I went to the hospital to speak with Mr. Oliva,” the officer added in his report. “At approximately 9:46 PM I advised Mr. Oliva that I had finished my crash investigation and would be conducting a criminal investigation for Driving under the influence. Miranda warnings were read at this time. Mr. Oliva told me he understands what his rights are and that he is ok with speaking with me. I asked Mr. Oliva if he was the driver of the vehicle during the accident. Mr. Oliva told me he was the driver. I asked Mr. Oliva if anyone else was in the vehicle. Mr. Oliva stated he was the only occupant of the vehicle. I asked Mr. Oliva if he had taken or drank anything after the crash occurred. Mr. Oliva stated he did not take anything after the crash happened. I asked Mr. Oliva if he had any medical conditions. Mr. Oliva stated he has high blood pressure and diabetes. Nurses on staff advised me that he was perfectly fine in regard to his blood sugar and blood pressure levels. I asked Mr. Oliva if he had been drinking today. Mr. Oliva stated he did have a couple orange juice and vodkas. I then told Mr. Oliva that I found a bag of white powder substance that tested positive for cocaine. Mr. Oliva then stated, ‘someone gave me that for my birthday.’ I asked Mr. Oliva if he uses cocaine and he stated, ‘I dabble around with it.’ Mr. Oliva stated to numerous nurses at hospital that the cocaine was his. The nurses at hospital listened as Mr. Oliva yelled at his wife on the phone about the cocaine being in his car. I then asked Mr. Oliva if he would be willing to sign a form that would allow me to have access to his medical blood records to see his blood alcohol content. I told Mr. Oliva that this is 100% voluntary. Mr. Oliva told me that he had no problem with signing over his medical records. Mr. Oliva had a blood alcohol content of .138 G/210L.
“Mr. Oliva would end up being admitted into the hospital due to his injuries. Mr. Oliva was placed under arrest at approximately 12:13 PM on 09/30/2021.
“Mr. Olivas property was searched. I found another clear plastic bag containing residue of a white substance. The bag with the residue was in a pack of cigarettes in Mr. Olivas bag. Mr. Oliva had his wallet and personal belongings in the bag. Mr. Oliva told me that the bag was his that contained the clear bag with a white substance.”
Oliva’s booking photo released by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office shows him wearing a hospital gown and sporting what appear to be fresh scrapes on his nose and left cheek.
More information on Oliva’s arrest can be found using the Florida online court records search.
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 (hear audio below). “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