Jeff Plate

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Jeff Plate
Born (1962-03-26) March 26, 1962 (age 52) [1][2]
Montour Falls, NY
Genres Heavy metal, progressive metal, power metal
Instruments Drums
Years active 1989-present
Associated acts Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Chris Caffery, Doctor Butcher, Metal Church, John West, Machines of Grace

Jeff Plate (born March 26, 1962, in Montour Falls, NY)[3] is a professional drummer and percussionist. He currently plays with the progressive rock group Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He also worked with thrash metal band Metal Church until their 2009 disbanding, although he is most remembered for his drumming for Savatage on their albums since Japan Live '94.

Life and career[edit]

Plate grew up near Elmira, New York with dreams of becoming a pitcher for the New York Yankees, but his hip popped out of a joint and he was advised to give up playing sports for two years, leaving his dreams behind.[1] However, he saw KISS perform on television when he was 13, which inspired him to become a musician. After moving to Boston, Massachusetts in 1986 (after living in Tampa, Florida in 1981 and returning home in 1982[2]), Jeff met Boston guitarist Matt Leff through a mutual friend, Leff had been playing in a band Wicked Witch, whose lead vocalist was Zak Stevens. Wicked Witch went through a few lineup changes and had broken up at the time Matt and Jeff started playing together. Zak was living in Hollywood but had decided to move to Boston to reform a 2nd version of Wicked Witch. On one night in late 1989, Zak flew in to meet Matt and Jeff. After picking him up at the airport the 3 of them decided to go to a downtown Boston club called The Channel. Oddly enough the band playing that night was Savatage.

Wicked Witch played the Boston music scene for 2 years opening for many national acts. In the fall of 1992, Jon Oliva announced he was leaving Savatage. Zak got the call to join them, with Wicked Witch at the crossroads. Zak accepted the call, and made his Savatage debut on 1993's Edge of Thorns. Wicked Witch folded soon after, as they couldn't get a replacement for Stevens. Jeff went back to New York at this point, and joined an alternative/country rock band called Voodoo Rodeo. They played around New York for about a year, but failed to gain any mainstream success.

After the death of Criss Oliva in 1993, Jeff heard that there was uncertainty about the band's future. The situation of Steve Wacholz was also uncertain. Wacholz recorded Edge of Thorns, but did not play on the resulting world tour. Zak told Jeff that he had recently spoken to Jon and Paul about him, and that Jeff might have a future with Savatage. Jeff sent the Savatage team a demo and some pictures, and began learning the Savatage catalog.

All went well, and in the spring of 1994, Plate flew out to Florida to do the photo shoot for the still-in-production Handful of Rain album. Some of these photos actually mistakenly appear on the European edition of the album. He did not do any drum tracks on that record, but was about to be formally offered the job as drummer when Steve Wacholz came back into the picture. Steve was wanting to phase out his role in Savatage, but apparently was getting second thoughts. Also, there was some political thinking behind the situation, for some thought that there should be a familiar face for the fans to see, following the death of Criss.

For the summer of 1994, Jeff had no idea what his future would be. Instead of sitting around, Plate worked hard on learning the Savatage songs, not wanting to get caught off guard if the phone rang. He did not have to wait long. In August of the same year, Steve decided that Savatage was not something that he wanted to pursue at that time. Jeff was called up by Zak, and offered the job. He received no formal audition[2] and was given two weeks notice that he'd be wanted in Florida. Four weeks after that, the U.S. tour in support of the album was scheduled to begin. Jeff completed the short tour with no problems, and "everything clicked quickly", especially with bass player, Johnny Lee Middleton.[1] Amazingly, only three months after he officially joined Savatage, Plate appeared on a live recording, Japan Live '94. Plate then appeared on all subsequent Savatage releases, including 1995's Dead Winter Dead, citing the subsequent tour in support of the album as a favourite.[1]

The success of the single "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)" from Dead Winter Dead lead to the formation of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO), who have, as of 2010, released five CDs starting with 1996's Christmas Eve and Other Stories.

In addition to his work with TSO, he has recently performed on the solo albums of fellow TSO member Chris Caffery. Plate has recently joined Metal Church and can be heard on their latest album, This Present Wasteland.

2009 found Metal Church calling it a day and disbanding. The bands breakup led to Jeff forming a new Heavy Metal group with fellow Savatage alumnus Zak Stevens (vocals), Matt Leff (guitars), and Chris Rapoza (bass) - the band's name is Machines of Grace. The band has an independent self-titled release.


Savatage albums[edit]

Trans Siberian Orchestra albums[edit]

Chris Caffery[edit]

Doctor Butcher[edit]

Metal Church[edit]

John West[edit]

Machines of Grace[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d "Jeff Plate biography". Retrieved 2007-05-24. 
  2. ^ a b c "Jeff Plate biography". Archived from the original on 2007-01-29. Retrieved 2007-05-24. 
  3. ^ Jeff's bio lists his place of birth as being Horseheads, New York. His official site however lists Montour Falls, NY.
  4. ^ ":: Welcome to". Retrieved 2011-10-24. 

External links[edit]