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Styx Signed Its First Record Contract 45 Years Ago Today!

The band officially hit the big time when it sealed a contract with Wooden Nickel Records on February 22, 1972.

by Mike Mettler

One of the most important events in Styx history happened 45 years ago today, when Styx signed its first official record contract with Wooden Nickel Records on February 22, 1972.

Styx proceeded to make four albums with the Chicago-based independent label Wooden Nickel — Styx (1972), Styx II (1973), The Serpent Is Rising (1973), and Man of Miracles (1974) — before joining the vaunted A&M Records roster with 1975’s Equinox.

“Within 14 months of my joining the band, we had our first recording contract,” recalls co-founding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young. “And if we can make it that long, I’d like to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that event with a show on 2.22.22.”

And what a perfectly symmetrical date that is, BTW — one that instantly recalls the beauty of the 7.7.77 release date for The Grand Illusion, which itself will turn 40 later this summer. So, fingers crossed, y'all — we’ve only got 5 more years to go…

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the members of Styx at the time of the Wooden Nickel label signing, as seen in the above vintage of-era photo, were, from left to right: bassist Chuck Panozzo, drummer John Panozzo, guitarist/vocalist John “J.C.” Curulewski, keyboardist/vocalist Dennis DeYoung, and the aforementioned James “JY” Young.

Two other important Styx-related milestones also happened on this day:

    ** 34 years ago on February 22, 1983, Styx released Kilroy Was Here. The album spawned a large-scale concept-oriented tour, went platinum, and reached #3 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart.

    ** 27 years ago on February 22, 1990, Damn Yankees released its self-titled debut on Warner Bros. Records, which was certified double platinum and reached #13 on the album charts. This supergroup consisted of guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw, Night Ranger bassist/vocalist Jack Blades, guitarist Ted Nugent, and drummer Michael Cartellone.

    Two of that album’s songs, “Coming of Age” and “High Enough,” were re-recorded by the current Styx lineup and appear on 2011’s Regeneration: Volume II. “High Enough” has also appeared in numerous Styx set lists over the years. On occasion, you just might catch Tommy singing a good bit of Damn Yankees’ FM radio hit “Come Again” before going into “Crystal Ball.” And for his recent solo show with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra (CYO) in Cleveland on May 27, 2016, Tommy performed both “High Enough” and “Come Again” acoustically in full alongside longtime Styx collaborator, guitarist/vocalist/production wiz Will Evankovich. We'll be posting an exclusive interview with Will here fairly soon, so stay tuned!