Styx drummer Todd Sucherman shares his fondest memories of his longtime drum tech Paul Carrizzo, who passed away last week at age 68.
By Mike Mettler, resident Styxologist
Photos courtesy Todd Sucherman and Styx
Styx drummer Todd Sucherman’s longtime drum tech of 20 years, Paul Carrizzo, passed away peacefully at the way-too-young age of 68 on March 16, 2022. (You can read our original News section post about Paul’s passing right here.) Not only did Styx honor Paulie’s memory onstage after their triumphant Mission show at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on that quite emotionally draining night of March 16 (as well as both during and after their ensuing performances in the days that have followed), but each bandmember and crewmember have since paid tribute to Paulie in their own individual ways.
On Saturday, March 19, Todd himself shared some deeply personal thoughts and loving memories about the time he spent with Paulie, his brother in arms over those two full decades. Today, with Todd’s direct permission, we here at Styxworld are sharing his feelings about Paulie verbatim from that post.
(Incidentally, if you’d like to read more about Paulie and his amazing life in his own words, all Styx Lounge members can now access a deep-dive interview I had the honor of conducting with him that’s now posted over in the Lounge area of our site, under the Styxology banner.)
And now, Todd has the floor, sharing stories only he can tell us about his forever favorite drum tech and ours, Paul “Paulie” Carrizzo.
Todd Sucherman: I wish to wholeheartedly thank everyone who expressed their condolences on the loss of our Styx family member, Paul Carrizzo. All the kind notes, remembrances, calls, texts, emails, and expressions of sympathy are deeply appreciated by all of us in the Styx Family, as well as those in the extended the Carrizzo family.
Paulie loved and adored his wife, Maxine, since they first met. They spoke multiple times a day when he was on the road. They were a perfect pair. Paulie simply made everyone feel special, just with a “hello” or a wave or a smile.
It has been comforting to read so many messages about how Paulie made those he came into contact with feel he was truly a kind soul. Maxine told me that he knew everyone’s name at their grocery store — every single person. He’d ask someone’s name if they were new, and introduce himself. “Hey, these folks take care of us, we should know them.” That’s the kind of guy he was. So many messages were left from local stagehands, local crewmembers, and various people who may have had one simple interaction with him, no matter how small or brief, who remembered his kindness. He made an impression, and you did not forget him.
I first met Paulie on the Styx/Bad Company/Billy Squier tour in 2001. He was working with Nir Z, who was playing drums with Billy Squier. We became fast friends, and it didn’t take long to see how well he was doing his gig. He was teaching everyone around him tricks of the trade, and helping others endlessly. When my tech decided to pursue other interests later that year, I called our then-production manager, Keith Marks, and asked him to call Paulie to see if he would like to come onboard with us. I was thrilled when he accepted the position.
Our first gig together was February 11th, 2002. When I came in that day, not only was the kit perfectly built and tuned, but he had fixed three issues I had with the kit in ways I never would have thought of — I was knocked out from day one, and that feeling never stopped.
I just had a text conversation with drummer Ron Wikso, and he had Paulie as a tech when he was playing with Foreigner in the ’90s. He told me, “Paulie was the only tech I’ve had in my entire career where I never had to check the drums before a show. Everything was always perfect, spotless, and sounding amazing, with 100% consistency.” I replied, “I had that for twenty years.”
It’s true. I never had to check anything, ever. He never had to come onstage to fix anything drum-related during a show. (Microphones are the audio dept.) Other than blowing out the bottom snare head or blowing out the snare wires during a show (or blowing confetti off the drums with a leaf blower in “Renegade”), he never had to come out for something that had to do with the drums. Everything was perfect — always. 100% perfection every night, without fail. Truly astounding. Paulie Carrizzo batted 1000.
I always referred to our setup as “our drums” because he was the custodian of, well, a very expensive custom drum kit. He looked after four main custom Pearl Masterworks kits in his twenty years (B-rig kits not included in that equation). They all remain in exquisite shape.
Outside of his talents with drums, he was also a skilled guitar tech, a true master chef, a general culinary connoisseur, a walking encyclopedia of music from the ’60s and ’70s, and a true friend that always had your back. An Italian Bronx boy with a heart of gold. His love of friends and family can’t even be described. He was a big softie, a sweetheart, yet he did not suffer fools gladly. He did have a gruff side, but you always knew where his heart was. We never got into an argument in twenty years. Disagreements, perhaps — but we never had a moment where we were locking horns and hollering at each other. He knew I loved him and I know that he loved me, and we said it to each other freely and often.
Just ten years ago, we celebrated our “tenth anniversary” by finding an old school Italian restaurant on the road on a day off, and then we enjoyed a bottle of Cristal Champagne as a nightcap.
Right after our twentieth anniversary, he died. I can’t get my head around it yet.
This will take a while to process, and a while to heal. He was a central figure in my life for so long. As our mutual friend, Ronn Dunnett, said in his tribute to Paulie, “Drum techs are a very special breed, and their job descriptions extend far beyond setup and tear down. Brother, friend, fan, confidant, confessor, guidance counsellor, bodyguard, wing man, physician, chauffeur, comedian, secretary, nurse. . . . to artists like Todd Sucherman and Styx — and everyone he ever worked with — Paulie was all of these.” These words are so true, and Paulie had a long and illustrious career before we ever met. Oh, the stories.
My heart hurts for Maxine. They should be spending their golden years together on a beach, enjoying each other’s company into the sunset. My heart hurts for his whole extended family and old friends that knew him much longer than I did. My heart hurts for the friends that were just beginning to know him and didn’t get to spend enough time with him. My heart hurts for our dear Styx crew, who are, without a doubt, a true family.
Ultimately, we must move on feeling grateful and thankful that we had this special person in our lives for so long. He has enriched my life professionally and personally in profound ways I could never measure or describe in words.
Forgive me for not labeling each photo you see here with a location, date, who the other people are in the photo, or the photographer’s names. It’s just a “Paulie-Palooza” of photos as a tribute, and hopefully they will make you smile whether you knew him or not. Maybe you can see what a special soul he was just by looking at him smiling back at you, or seeing the pride he took in his work.
My partner on the road, my beautiful dear friend, I will love and miss you forever. Thank you.