They also gave Steve a nickname that would follow him throughout his career: “Doctor Hardware Killdrums”, often shortened to just “Doc” or “Doc Killdrums”, which referred to Steve’s hard playing style.
Criss, Jon and Steve played Tampa (where they had moved with their family in the late 1970s) and Clearwater area clubs for many years.
In 1981 Keith Collins joined them to relieve Jon of bass guitar duties. In late 2006, footage was released onto the internet of an early performance by Avatar at a gig in a Clearwater, Florida parking lot and was prominent in featuring an early version of the song “Holocaust”, which would later be released on Savatage’s first album and a cover of Van Halen’s “Eruption” and VH’s version of “You Really Got Me”.
In 1982, Avatar took part in some heavy metal compilations, most notably “The YNF Pirate Tape”, a promotion by Tampa rock radio station 95ynf for local Florida bands. In 1983, “Avatar” was forced to change its name due to copyright issues. Combining the words “Savage” and “Avatar”, the band decided on Savatage.
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