So I’m really into Styx and always have been. Luckily I was able to score an interview with vocalist Lawrence Gowan in preparation for their upcoming show at The Joint at the Hard Rock Casino. Gowan joined the band in 1999 to serve as vocalist and keyboards.
You had a pretty successful career in Canada prior to Styx.
Gowan: Yeah, I know it still comes as a surprise to a lot of people in the states because my records weren’t released here. I had a deal with Columbia Records, where it seemed like it didn’t matter how many records I sold or multi-platinum records or how many number ones I had, I just couldn’t get a release here. It’s the way the music industry was then … just because there was an act that was huge in England, it din’t mean that they would necessarily come out in America. Some did and some didn’t, and I fell into that category.
But at the same time, I had a great 14-year career playing my solo stuff and going back and forth across Canada. … But it never went on a national thing. … You have to look at it as a little bit of a blessing in disguise, that it was probably … due to the fact that I had a long career that they became aware of, because they were incredibly popular there. And when when we did shows together, they saw firsthand … how I could fit in and be part of Styx.
You had a very successful career already and were still enjoying different facets of your career when the Styx thing happened. So you were like here’s this really established band and what do I want to do here.
Funny thing. It wasn’t the slam decision that some people might think. It just so happens, the way things were unfolding in the late 90s, I was going to England a lot and was playing there and I’d just come back from a tour (opening for a band called the Stranglers). … About halfway through the tour, I would go up onstage during their encore and play guitar or something along with the encore song. And my publicist there mentioned to me, “You know, what’s likely to happen with your career, internationally speaking, is that some band is going to need a lead singer.” She mentioned the fact that she was doing a tour with Brian May in the fall and she was like, “If I get you on that tour, who knows, who knows … you never know what that could lead to.”
So she started putting that idea in my head and, at the time, I didn’t think it made much sense because, as you say, I had a long established tour as a solo artist. But my mind opened up to it and, when I got the call from James Young and Tommy Shaw, I just thought the world was trying to say something. And I listened to Styx and I really enjoyed their show and the shows that we did together. I just thought I could see myself fitting into this band. So on the one hand, I thought seriously about it and, on the other hand, I was like “Who the hell would say no to this?”
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By: Tim Hudson
Photo By: Jason Powell