Among the musical elite, Styx stand out as torch bearers for American Midwest rock and roll. Along with their fellow Illinois brethren in REO Speedwagon and Cheap Trick, they set the standard and paved the road for so much of the classic rock music still enjoyed on the radio today. This summer, the legendary quintet are torching the tour circuit with fellow rock icons Foreigner and Don Felder as part of the Soundtrack of Summer tour.
The earliest roots of Styx were born outside of Chicago in 1961 by the Panozzo brothers, Chuck (bass) and John (drums). The group began recording albums under its now famous moniker 40 years ago as a progressive rock band. Guitarist James “J.Y.” Young has been with Styx for every album, and he was joined in 1975 by fellow guitarist Tommy Shaw. It was at this point the band began to define a less progressive, more accessible sound which led to a series of multi-platinum records and turned them into arena staples.
Styx owned the 70s and early 80s with a string of multi-platinum successes in the form of The Grand Illusion (1976) Pieces of Eight (1978), Cornerstone (1979) and Paradise Theatre (1981). The albums landed hits with “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)”, “Come Sail Away”, “Renegade”, “Blue Collar Man”, “Babe”, “Rockin’ the Paradise”, “Too Much Time on My Hands” and “The Best of Times”. However it was the deeper cuts on these landmark albums that hooked fans.
Four decades later, Young and Shaw continue the Styx legacy. John Panozzo would succumb to liver complications in 1996, and Chuck Panozzo plays only a minor role in the band these days due to health issues, but there spirit remains with the band. Todd Sucherman has carried on for John since 1995, and Ricky Phillips (The Babys, Bad English) has been handling bass duties for Chuck since 2003. Canadian vocalist/keyboardist Lawrence Gowan replaced original vocalist Dennis DeYoung in 1999 due to estrangement with the other band members and chronic fatigue syndrome.Styx
The members of Styx are relentless road warriors. Between the constant touring, their families, and side projects it has been a good decade since the band released new music. Vocalist Lawrence Gowan tells AXS.com that the idea of recording a new album is a difficult conundrum for the band. He admitted they would love to take six months off to record a new record, but their non-stop touring schedule gives them scant free time to get in the studio to do it.
“We spend a lot of time in the dressing room and we bring up all kinds of new material, and play through things. And we go ‘oh this is gonna be great.’ We sock it away and we have the material ready to go, it just needs the time commitment and the fortitude after playing over 100 shows a year to see it through. What I think is most likely is that we’re going to record songs one at a time now.”
A Styx concert is always a fun and energetic event, and there is no such thing as a poor performance. If they are playing anywhere near you, make sure you get your tickets to see what Adam Sandler called, “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.”