by Mike Mettler

20 years ago today on May 21, 1996, Styx's triumphant Return to Paradise tour got underway at the Five Seasons Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with Kansas as the opening act. This special 70-plus date Grand Reopening reunion run celebrated Tommy Shaw's return to the band, following the successful 1995 studio sessions for "Lady '95," which had been recorded for inclusion on Styx's August 22, 1995 Greatest Hits release.

"We didn’t have any idea whether people would still care about us or not," Tommy recalls of the days and weeks leading up to the RTP tour. "But our then-new manager Charlie Brusco assured us that if you put tickets on sale, people are going to show up. And they did — and in amazing numbers too! Return to Paradise indeed."

That May 21 Cedar Rapids show also featured the live debut of drummer Todd Sucherman, who had been asked to take over for the ailing John Panozzo. "It was exhilarating," Todd says. "At the end of the show, I felt like we had just won the Super Bowl."

To commemorate the tour, a live CD and DVD, both also dubbed Return to Paradise, were recorded at the Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois — the very same venue where Todd first saw the band play live in March 1981, in fact — on the Autumnal Equinox on September 21, 1996.

More behind the scenes Return to Paradise commentary will be the focus of our next Styxology column, which will be made available to Styxworld Lounge members on Monday, May 23.To become a Styx Fan Club member, you can Join here.