Remembering the late Thin White Duke, whom Styx opened for on his very first U.S. tour in 1972.

by Mike Mettler

Bowie photo by Vernon Dewhurst (1969)

Ground control to Major Tom: Legendary rock visionary David Bowie passed away on January 10, 2016, after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief,” read a statement posted on Bowie’s official social media accounts.

Styx has a special relationship with the once and forever Thin White Duke, having opened for David Bowie early on in their career on his first American tour, which was dubbed the Ziggy Stardust Tour, at Performance Hall in Kansas City on October 15, 1972. In a Styxworld exclusive, the band remembers Bowie’s ongoing influence and impact. Rest in peace, our hero of sound and vision.

Chuck Panozzo (co-founding original bassist): We learned the art of theater from David Bowie. We opened for him on his first American tour at Performance Hall in Kansas City [on October 15, 1972]. When he entered the stage, it was such a mind-blowing experience. That taught us so much about stage presence. Bowie put us in the mindset that you can be more than just a player. You can create an atmosphere that feels so real, one with true highs and lows that will draw people in like ancient theater. It’s the live embodiment of a good book that will make you smile, laugh, and listen.

James “JY” Young (co-founding guitarist/vocalist): Chuck said it better than I could regarding Bowie in KC, MO in 1972. Maybe a half-full house, it was. My favorite Bowie song is still “Putting Out Fire (With Gasoline),” from the Kinski/McDowell vampire [werecat] movie (Cat People, 1982). Although, when I introduce “Miss America” these days, I do tip my hat to the “fleeting nature of... FAME.” Tarantino used “Putting Out Fire” in his Nazi WWII movie Inglourious Basterds (2009) in a very powerful way as well.

Tommy Shaw (guitarist/vocalist): I was shocked and saddened to read the news of Bowie’s passing. His fearless, peerless creativity was a priceless gift to us all.

Lawrence Gowan (keyboardist/vocalist): So very sad to hear about our loss of David Bowie. He made his life and art a captivating, entertaining, and fun adventure for over six decades. He personified everything that’s great about rock music, and gave us all the thrill of enjoying the ride till the end. The spirit of David Bowie will live on.

Todd Sucherman (drummer): Bowie was a true visionary and a true artist, and I couldn’t compliment any kind of artist with better words than that. He was creating and changing all the way to the end. A loss, and one of a kind.

Ricky Phillips (bassist/vocalist): This is quite sad. He was a huge influence on me as a young performer. He covered the full spectrum, crossing the line from accomplished musicianship to full-frontal entertainment. His vocal style, saxophone, and piano compositions were all immediately identifiable, and I spent hours learning them, starting with Hunky Dory (1971). I’ll forever be grateful for his incredible influence on me.