I’ll miss Paul O’Neill forever, starting when I first heard he passed on, until I breathe my last breath. The whole TSO success story was only a fraction of this unassuming genius. We had many long talks about things having nothing to do with music, like history, he was a scholar level expert in Russian and American history. In fact, part of Paul’s payment to Joan Jett for playing here on New Years Eve was an authentic letter hand written by Abraham Lincoln! Here’s his last time on stage in Cleveland.
His first child was born two months after my daughter some 20 years ago, and even though TSO was just breaking through then, our conversations centered around the uncertainties of our impending fatherhood. Seems like yesterday but the years have flown by.
His generosity was unsurpassed, most of it in ways you’ll never know, because that was his way. His $600k+ donations to local charities was matched in the other towns that TSO played. He got it. Not just music or showmanship, but he got life, He knew what was really important: faith, family, friends, & trying to make the world a better place.
In our last meeting on New Years Eve we talked mostly about my illness with him never mentioning his “chronic condition” that would soon end his life. As we reflected on our own mortality he said that when he’s not around anymore”I want TSO to continue on”. That is the legacy that needs to continue. Not just the music, smoke, lights and pyro , but his candlelit dreams of how we can all be better people if we continue to keep trying, and above all else, to believe.
If you want to see a professionally written piece on Paul check out this one from the New York Daily News, this guy really gets it.