A New York City native, O'Neill began playing guitar with a number of rock bands in high school and quickly graduated to folk guitar gigs at downtown clubs. O'Neill took his first serious musical steps in the mid 1970's when he took his first progressive rock band, "Slowburn" into Jimi Hendrix's famed Electric Lady Studios in New York City. It was there that he first met engineer Dave Wittman who had the uncannily ability to capture the sounds Paul was hearing in his head on tape. Though Paul eventually shelved the project because he wasn't happy with the end result, many of the songs and musical ideas started there would eventually show up on future albums.
Meanwhile he was fortunate enough to land a position at Leber-Krebs Inc., the management company that launched the careers of Aerosmith, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Ted Nugent, The New York Dolls, Scorpions and Michael Bolton among others. Specifically, he worked as the personal assistant of famed manager David Krebs. In the 1980s, O'Neill became one of the biggest rock promoters in Japan, promoting every tour of Madonna and Sting done in that decade, as well as some of the biggest rock festivals with such acts as Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and Ronnie James Dio.
In 1986, with encouragement from David Krebs, he turned to writing and producing full time. O'Neill's productions include Aerosmith's platinum Classics Live I and II, Savatage's critically acclaimed and first Progressive Metal albumHall of the Mountain King and Gutter Ballet, as well as the Badlands début album.
Soon however O'Neill began stretching the boundaries of the form, developing a unique style of rock opera. His first two were the highly praised Streets: A Rock Opera and Dead Winter Dead (the later after following the release of two Savatage albums), for Savatage, after he became the band's main songwriter and co-composer.
From there he created the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO), the result of the song Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) from the Dead Winter Dead album. The five rock operas (Christmas Eve and Other Stories, The Christmas Attic, Beethoven's Last Night, The Lost Christmas Eve, and Night Castle) created by the team of O'Neill, Robert Kinkel and Savatage's mastermind Jon Oliva under the name of TSO, quickly became some of Lava/Atlantic's top selling projects.
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