Jon Oliva On His Failed Attempt To Be The Black Sabbath Frontman

In a recent interview with Greece’s Rock Hard magazine, Jon Oliva revealed how he almost became the frontman for the rock band Black Sabbath. He also discussed how an outside influence ultimately put a halt to his ambitious plan.

The musician recounted that while his band, Savatage, was on the verge of disbanding, he considered auditioning for Black Sabbath. However, his plans were disrupted when his group’s producer, Paul O’Neill, intervened. The producer convinced the members to stay together by offering them a good deal, which they accepted.

Despite remaining with his team, Oliva admitted that he had been eager to join Sabbath as their vocalist. He felt confident about his skills and chances, as he was already familiar with all the songs in the setlist sent to him. However, due to O’Neill’s involvement, he lost the opportunity to Ray Gillen.

During the interview, the singer also recalled an interaction with the producer following the missed chance. He shared being told that he wouldn’t have made money with Sabbath, to which Oliva replied that he wouldn’t have minded because it was ‘Black f–cking Sabbath.’

The vocalist explained the memory by saying:

“I would have loved to sing for Black Sabbath. I mean, I know… I’ll tell you right now I would have been the best singer for Black Sabbath besides Ozzy. And I had a demo sent to me of [Black Sabbath’s] ‘Eternal Idol’ album — the song ‘The Shining’ was one, and ‘Ancient Warrior’ was another one. And then I got a list of classics, like ‘War Pigs,’ ‘N.I.B.’ And I knew all those songs anyway.

I’m, like, ‘Oh, man. I’m gonna tear them up.’ I was so confident. And then when Paul stopped us from doing that because he gave us all this money. He was gonna keep us together and redo our contract with Atlantic. And then I find out that Ray Gillen flies out there to California in my place and gets the goddamn gig.”

Then, he proceeded as follows:

“You know what O’Neill said to me? He was, like, ‘Jon, I know you would have gotten the gig, but you were never gonna make any money with them.’ I’m, like, ‘Well, I haven’t made any money in 20 years. It’s Black f-cking Sabbath.‘”

As for the future of Savatage, the band is currently working on their new album. According to Oliva, this will possibly be their final album, and if all goes well, it is expected to be released next April.