Dean Artist: Chris Caffery

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 night.

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!!!! [ more ]

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