It’s never easy when a long-running band replaces a well-known member with a new one. But sometimes it must be done, and as Styx has shown with the transition from co-founding keyboardist/vocalist/songwriter Dennis DeYoung to Lawrence Gowan, both the band and its fans can benefit from such changes.

Since Gowan joined Styx in 1999, the band has recorded an acclaimed studio album, Cyclorama (2003); and a popular album of cover songs, Big Bang Theory (2005), which featured Gowan’s vocal on a hit cover of The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus“—as well as a plethora of live albums. The band has worked steadily on stages around the world, and Gowan’s showmanship—including his rotating keyboard—has been a highlight in the band’s shows. As a live act, Styx is as viable and popular as it’s ever been (perhaps more so), and the change from DeYoung to Gowan has gone over quite well with generations of Styx fans.

When I spoke with Gowan, he was—guess what?—on the road with Styx, beginning a series of headlining shows for the band that would find it digging deep into its treasure trove of classic albums. We discussed the origins of his spinning keyboard, the charity efforts that are a part of every recent Styx show, his entry into the band, a tour bus fire that made the headlines, and his future recording plans—both with Styx and as a solo artist.

Howard Whitman: It’s good to speak with you, Lawrence. I was at the July 3rd Soundtrack of Summer show in Camden, New Jersey.

Lawrence Gowan: Ooh, that makes it so much better. It’s good to talk to someone who’s seen the show.

Whitman: I’ve seen you with Styx three times now—a couple of times during the Cyclorama era when Glen Burtnik was in the band. This was my first show in a while.

Gowan: Yeah, that’s your first show in about 10 years—wow.

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