by: Daniel Durchholz

photo by: Owen Sweeney

Typically when Styx tours these days, it’s on a co-headlining bill with bands such as Foreigner, Boston, Yes, Journey, Kansas, Def Leppard and R.E.O. Speedwagon. Styx and R.E.O., in fact, shared a St. Louis stage for a show that resulted in the 2000 collaborative live album/DVD “Arch Allies: Live at Riverport” (as St. Louis’ Hollywood Casino Amphitheater was called back then).

“We’re musicians,” says Styx guitarist James “JY” Young, who is on the phone from his home in Chicago, adding with a laugh, “We like to date other bands.”

Not this time around, however. Sunday’s performance at the Peabody Opera House is advertised as “An Evening With Styx,” which means no shortened, hits-only set.

“The way we’ve been doing things lately is, we’ll do two one-hour sets,” Young says. “We get a chance to get into some of the songs that people haven’t heard in a long time. We get to dig much more deeply.”

In Styx parlance — echoing Charles Dickens, of course — these are the best of times, even as its late-’70s/early-’80s heyday recedes further and further into the past. Back then, the group released five consecutive platinum-plus albums, including “The Grand Illusion” and “Pieces of Eight.” Styx has retained enough of its audience from that era that its fans still eagerly show up for concerts, sometimes with younger generations in tow.

Read more at!

by Joe Malan

photo by Jason Powell

For Styx keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, it was two nights that changed his entire career.

“In 1997, I happened to be touring entirely solo because I had a new solo live record,” said the Scottish-born Canadian musician, who will perform with Styx in Enid on April 1. “Even at that point, I had several platinum records, gold albums. But I had never released anything in the U.S.”

It was then that Styx called Gowan’s manager, wanting him to open for the group.

“My tour manager said, ‘You can’t do that! You haven’t opened for anyone in (about 12) years.’ I told him no. First of all, I had never seen Styx, and I wanted to see them. Second of all, it was the new Montreal Forum, and I wanted to play the new place.”

After Gowan’s impressive performance, several members of Styx greeted him after his act.

“They said, ‘I hope we get a chance to work together in the future.’”

That time began two years later, with a call from James “J.Y.” Young.

“He said the band had decided to move on (from former band member Dennis DeYoung), and we need a new keyboard player, and we want it to be you,” Gowan said. “Can you come to Los Angeles?”

So he went down to sing with the band, and they must’ve liked what they heard, because the very next morning, Styx’s tour manager invited him to breakfast, and that’s when he received their offer.

Read more at!

Tommy Shaw’s heartfelt solo bluegrass album was released 5 years ago today on March 22, 2011.

by Mike Mettler

The Great Divide, Tommy Shaw’s fifth solo studio album and his first foray into bluegrass, was released on CD and LP by Pazzo Music/Fontana 5 years ago today on March 22, 2011.

Co-produced by Shaw, Brad Davis, and Will Evankovich and recorded at Sound Emporium in Nashville and The Shop in Los Angeles, The Great Divide showcases Tommy’s downhome roots like never before, as the Montgomery, Alabama native enlisted the likes of Alison Krauss and Dwight Yoakam (background vocals), Sam Bush (mandolin), Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes (dobro), Byron House (bass), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Scott Vestal (banjo), Chris Brown (drums), and the aforementioned Davis and Evankovich (guitar) to help get across his singular vision.

From the opening can’t-go-wrong stomp of “The Next Best Thing” to the press-on fortitude of “Umpteen Miles” to the acoustic-driven historical tale of a certain piano playin’ president in “Give ’Em Hell Harry” (your Styxologist’s personal favorite track on the album), The Great Divide is perhaps the best realization of the indelible DNA that’s essentially been at the core of every song Shaw has ever written.

In a Styxworld exclusive, Tommy recalls the origins of this most special, personal work in his recorded canon to date. Give ’em hell, Tommy.

Tommy Shaw: The Great Divide ended up being my mother’s favorite record that I ever made. It really was an act of love. It was me paying tribute to the music that I heard when I was little. I used to be able to hear the Grand Old Opry at night on the radio. And we’d see Porter Wagoner and other artists on a local TV show called The Country Boy Eddie Show. They played that kind of music.

Not only that, but a bandmate of mine, Ricky Parsons — who we all called Jabbo — had an uncle, Billy Byrd, who played in one of Hank Williams’ bands, and he knew all of that music. Whenever he would come over, Jabbo would call me up and say, “Uncle Billy’s coming!” So I’d get in the car and run over there, and we’d all sit around and play Hank Williams tunes. I mean, it just goes on and on. It was part of my upbringing.

So to finally have a chance to put together those songs that were bouncing around in my head and give voice to them on The Great Divide — I haven’t been the same since, to be honest with you. That voice has been awakened in me, and there are more songs being written. I don’t know when I’ll get around to putting them all on an album again, but they’re out there, and they’re in here! (chuckles heartily)

So, yeah, I’m really glad I made that record. I got to work with some of the greatest Americana and bluegrass musicians in town, and it really did just open up a new door that I’m certainly not interested in closing anytime soon.

by Jordan Liffengren

Todd Sucherman, best known as Styx's drummer for the past 20 years, speaks and writes eloquently about taking his job seriously and appreciating what he does for a living. Not only is he an award-winning, best-selling musician and clinician, but he has recorded more than 1,000 radio and TV spots and worked with artists as diverse as Peter Cetera, Brian Culbertson, Spinal Tap, Michael Bolton, The Falling Wallendas, Eric Marienthal, and Brian Wilson.

In this Q&A, we caught up with Todd before the Styx show this March in San Jose, located just a few blocks from DRUM! Magazine headquarters. He told us what fans should expect from the upcoming Styx shows, and taught us how to be successful in the music industry with hard work and integrity.

DRUM!: It's been 20 years since you joined Styx this year. What was your expectation when you started?
SUCHERMAN: My expectation was that it was just going to be 72 shows and that was it. Well, I had nothing else better to do in the summer of 1996, and it sounded like an exciting proposition to do a big-scale tour. I was from Chicago, and they were a Chicago band on the radio all the time (they were hometown darlings as it were), and I grew up with their music and had Styx records. They were part of my DNA, so to speak. I did a couple of recording sessions for them in 1995 and 1996 when they were doing the extra tracks on their Greatest Hits record. It was about two days after that first session that James Young had asked me what I was doing that summer, and if I would be interested in doing this. At that point, if [founding drummer] John Panozzo got better, the gig would still be his and I said, "Of course." That summer during that first tour is when John Panozzo ultimately passed away, and I've sort of stuck around ever since. But when we finished that very first tour, I said goodbye to everybody feeling that I might never see any of these people again. But I got a call in Spring of 1997 and it was like, "Hey, we need you again for a couple of months, would you be able to do it?" And I said, "Sure. That was fun the first time, let's do it again!" And once you get that train rolling, it's kind of hard to stop. Suddenly 20 years have flown by.


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The Styx family collectively mourns the passing of the legendary Beatles producer, a man whose work was way beyond compare.

by Mike Mettler

Sir George Martin passed away at the age of 90 in Wiltshire, England on March 8, 2016. Best known for his indelible, enduring, and daringly innovative studio work with The Beatles from 1962–70, Martin also produced a wide swath of artists including Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, America, Jeff Beck, and Cheap Trick.

Styx paid tribute to Martin and The Beatles with a masterful cover of “I Am the Walrus” on 2005’s Big Bang Theory, and the song continues to appear in many of the band’s live sets. “It was probably back in ’99 when I first heard Lawrence [Gowan] singing it during a soundcheck,” recalls Styx cofounding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young. “It jumped into my brain as we were driving to a gig where we were going to rehearse, so I said to him, ‘You know “Walrus.” Why don’t we work up a Styx version of that?’ And we did an incredible version — Lawrence sounds just like John Lennon on it.”

To a man, Styx has deep respect for Martin’s overall legacy as a producer and studio visionary. “Seeing the news of George Martin’s passing literally took my breath away,” admits guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw. “His absence feels like a personal loss. His masterful guidance, experience, and discipline took The Beatles and their incredible contributions to heights that will more than likely be unattainable by any other mere mortals for generations to come. Thank you, Sir George, for being there to shepherd their raw talent through the lens of your great musical mind in their most creative, sea-changing days. On behalf of everyone on the planet and from the bottom of my heart, thank you, sir. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Drummer Todd Sucherman, who had the honor of speaking with both Sir George and his son Giles Martin, also a noted producer, at a UK Hall of Fame event a few years ago for the induction of Brian Wilson, acknowledges, “He was a man who exemplified dignity, style, and grace while changing the world forever for the better.” Adds original bassist Chuck Panozzo, “He was an incredibly talented man, from his work with The Beatles to many other musicians, plus what he did for the lovers of music. Thank you, sir.”

Keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan, a long-acknowledged Beatles aficionado and singer of the aforementioned “Walrus” cover, observes, “George Martin made such a tremendous contribution to the music of our lives. Although his name is intrinsically tied to The Beatles’ music, it is equally notable to recognize that he followed his own musical path to the fullest. It is a beautiful coincidence of fate that his path ran parallel to theirs, but he enriched the entire palette of rock music with his characteristically strident approach to orchestration. Martin expanded great songs into even greater sound experiences. I love his own compositions, particularly the ‘The Pepperland Suite,’ from the [1968] Yellow Submarine soundtrack.” (For those who may not be all that familiar with “The Pepperland Suite,” Lawrence has included a YouTube link to it on his Facebook page.)

“The versatility he showed depending on whose songs he was giving the ‘Martin’ treatment is incredible,” Lawrence continues. “There's such a vast expanse of styles from which to choose, but to narrow the focus, consider his sweeping range between the Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper (1967) records. Listen to how used a string section to lift the pathos of [Revolver’s] ‘Eleanor Rigby’ with Paul McCartney as compared to the mystic flavor he evokes from another string section on [Sgt. Pepper’s] ‘Within You Without You’ with George Harrison. They’re entirely different, and yet both bear the unmistakable Martin stamp. Then there’s the John Lennon masterpieces of daring arrangement and sonic experimentation he helped bring to life on [Sgt. Pepper’s] ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite’ and [Revolver’s] ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.’ The list goes on and on, and to each he gave his unique and amazing touch.”

Lawrence concludes by extending “a deep thank you to George Martin for sharing his musical spirit with the world for the past 90 years.”

Finally, as bassist/vocalist Ricky Phillips notes, “Although they're my favorite band, truth be told, The Beatles would not have had the legs of such a storied career without George Martin. He recognized amazing young talent and nurtured it to a place that will never be equaled. What he did with Jeff Beck on the Blow by Blow album (1975) was beyond amazing, and it will always be my favorite instrumental record. He had a gift, and it made all those around him shine. Thank you, Sir George, for all you have given us.”

Amen and fare thee well, Sir George. Good night, sleep tight. Now the sun turns out its light. Dream sweet dreams for me.

By Bob Doerschuk - Keyboard Magazine

Photo: Jason Powell

One With Everything

Lawrence Gowan talks about his solo career, joining Styx, and what it takes to be a world-class keyboardist.

For about 15 years now, Lawrence Gowan has been “the new guy in Styx.” That seems unfair, but on the other hand it’s understandable, since that venerable band runs on fuel recycled from the days when Dennis De Young was doing much of the writing and singing and all of the keyboard playing.

You’d never know it if you’ve only recently become aware of the band, in which case Gowan seems only embedded into their musical identity. More than that, he is the pivot on which their concerts balance. Take it from the top, one recent night at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena: A few beats after their logo fills the gigantic screen behind the stage, cuing thunderous cheers and screams, the guys rush out and blast into “The Grand Illusion” as if they were playing it for the first time.

Gowan is the first one to sprint into view. He rushes to his place on the left side of the stage. For the rest of the show, that’s his home base; he stands behind his controller, which sits on a pedestal that allows him to spin it around. He plays it behind his back, even working the portamento while soloing and occasionally breaking into a jig, never missing a note on “Angry Young Man.” Now and then he kicks the thing, lays his leg across the keys and, for the finale on “Come Sail Away,” jumps up and stands on it, beckoning to the crowd to sing along.

None of this was in the curriculum at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, where Gowan earned an ARCT (Associate of the Royal Conservatory) degree in performance back in 1976. Styx had been together more than a decade by then, founded as the Tradewinds by three original members including De Young. And it had been four years since they embraced the name by which the world knows them now.

Gowan was already a star in his home country Canada when he opened one night for Styx back in 1997 and, two years after that, came onboard as a full-time member. He had issued several solo albums, charted with some hit singles (one of which, “Moonlight Desires,” featured the iconic Jon Anderson on backup vocals), recorded with Peter Gabriel’s rhythm section at Ringo Starr’s house and performed with the London Symphony Orchestra. His projects have straddled large-scale prog rock and intimate solo gigs.

Then came Styx and Gowan’s life changed forever. His efforts are now split between exploring his own creative inclinations and evoking past glories. (We’re not just talking Styx either; their concerts also feature covers of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay” and a solo, piano-and-voice rendition by Gowan of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”)

Like marriages and leftovers, this story leads to a critical question …

Keyboard: Lawrence, how do keep this music fresh?
Lawrence Gowan: Good one! First of all, some of the biggest Styx records were made in the late Seventies and their classic sound is one of the biggest musical statements of the last half of the twentieth century. I’m very reluctant to try to move away from what those original sounds are, so I really do try to replicate them as closely as I can. We’ve beefed up some of them a little bit, only because in the live context they sound better. So, for example, in the middle of “Come Sail Away,” the original is a little softer and flutier, and I use something that’s a little brassier. It just fits the bravado of the live arena a little bit more. But it’s a very fine line, where I try to stick as close to those parts and arrangements as possible because that's what people respond to.


By Darren Paltrowitz - Downtown Magazine NYC

Wildly-popular for decades, Styx is in rare company as one of the world’s top rock bands. In addition to their 16 U.S. Top 40 hit singles, the Illinois band released five consecutive multi-platinum albums between 1977 and 1981. Hits continued into the 1980s and 1990s – including the often-licensed “Mr. Roboto,” power ballad “Don’t Let It End,” and the Gulf War anthem “Show Me The Way” – even though Styx only released five studio albums over the past 30-odd years.

Fast-forwarding to 2016, “classic” era members Tommy Shaw and James “J.Y.” Young continue to lead Styx, while founding bassist Chuck Panozzo still tours on a part-time basis; Ricky Phillips, formerly of The Babys and Bad English, handles bass duties otherwise. Rounding out the Styx lineup are vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Lawrence Gowan and drummer Todd Sucherman, who both co-wrote most of the songs on 2003’s Cyclorama. These days, Styx still seems to be on the road more often than not.

When I spoke to Lawrence, the group had just launched another leg of its arena tour with Def Leppard and Tesla. Unfortunately a week or so before their Barclays Center show — scheduled for Feb. 16 — Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliott was saddled with laryngitis, which postponed the Brooklyn appearance, among other dates. Fortunately that New York date has not yet been rescheduled; Def Leppard is set for Jul. 11 at Jones Beach, however.

Lawrence — who is almost into his 19th year as a member of Styx — turned out to be one of the most pleasant interview subjects I have encountered. He is not only willing to answer anything asked of him, often doing so in a humorous way, but he also asks questions back to you. He is also full of anecdotes and references, briefly discussing Better Call Saul and the keyboard-playing of Rick Wakeman during our chat. For those who haven’t seen Lawrence’s “spinning keyboard” setup, it deserves your attention.

Arguably more interesting than the theatrics of Lawrence’s keyboard, however, is that he had a major solo career prior to his joining Styx. Lawrence won two Junos – which are essentially Canadian Grammys – in the 1980s, in addition to the National Achievement Award from the Society Of Composers, Authors, And Music Publishers Of Canada in 1998. His songs have been covered and/or sampled by an interesting array of artists, Akon among them.

For more information on Styx, click on over here, while Lawrence can be followed here.

I’m very aware of your massive solo career prior to joining Styx. Had you played in New York prior to joining Styx?

Lawrence Gowan: I did a full tour of America, I opened for Tears For Fears in 1985. I do recall playing somewhere in the surrounding area of New York City, but we never played in New York City. I think we played in New Jersey, I remember being disappointed, I thought for sure we’d get to play at Madison Square Garden. (laughs)


by Musician Photo Journal

photo by Nadine Swiger

The Palace Theatre was more like the Paradise Theatre for fans in attendance at the Styx concert in downtown Albany NY, as the dynamite Classic Rock band performed a solid double set of classic rock anthems!

They rocked the house with hits like “Grand illusion,” “Too Much Time on My Hands,” “Fooling Yourself,” “Blue Collar Man,” Lorelei,” “Come Sail Away,” “Lady,” “Crystal Ball” and many others. The crowd was on their feet from start to finish. I don’t think there was a single soul not dancing the night away! They threw in a few surprise tunes as well when they paid homage to the late David Bowie – playing “Space Oddity” and a rendition of “Life on Mars/ Changes.” They even did their version of the Beetle’s tune, “I Am the Walrus” before ending the night with an encore of “Rockin’ the Paradise” and “Renegade.”

One can’t help but take notice of Styx’s extreme talent. From Lawrence Gowan’s piano solo to the ripping guitar riffs of James “J.Y.” Young and Tommy Shaw, their spot on vocals and harmonies, with great rhythm of the bass and drums Ricky Phillips and Todd Sucherman – it’s no wonder why this band has stood the test of time! There are no tracks playing in the background; it just five musicians (and sometimes six when original bassist – Chuck Panozzo, joins them on stage) playing their instruments the way a live show should be – solid, tight and spot on!

Read more about the show in Albany at!

The band hit the big time when they sealed their contract with Wooden Nickel Records on February 22, 1972.

by Mike Mettler

One of the most important events in Styx history happened 44 years ago today, when Styx signed its first official record contract with Wooden Nickel Records on February 22, 1972.

Styx proceeded to make four albums with Wooden Nickel — Styx (1972), Styx II (1973), The Serpent Is Rising (1973), and Man of Miracles (1974) — before joining the A&M Records roster with 1975’s Equinox.

“Within 14 months of my joining the band, we had our first recording contract,” recalls cofounding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young. “And if we can make it that long, I’d like to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that event with a show on 2.22.22.” (And what a perfectly symmetrical date that is — one that instantly recalls the 7.7.77 release date for The Grand Illusion!) Fingers crossed, everybody — we’ve only got 6 more years to go…

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the members of Styx at the time of that label signing, as seen in the above vintage of-era photo, were, from left to right: bassist Chuck Panozzo, drummer John Panozzo, guitarist/vocalist John “J.C.” Curulewski, keyboardist/vocalist Dennis DeYoung, and JY.

Two other notable Styx-related milestones also happened on this day:

  • On February 22, 1983, Styx released Kilroy Was Here. The album spawned a large-scale concept-oriented tour, went platinum, and reached #3 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart.
  • On February 22, 1990, Damn Yankees released its self-titled debut, which was certified double platinum and reached #13 on the album charts. The supergroup consisted of guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw, Night Ranger bassist/vocalist Jack Blades, guitarist Ted Nugent, and drummer Michael Cartellone.

Two of that album’s songs, “Coming of Age” and “High Enough,” were re-recorded by the current Styx lineup and appear on 2011’s Regeneration: Volume II. “High Enough” has also appeared on numerous Styx set lists over the years. And, on occasion, Shaw will sing a good bit of Damn Yankees’ FM radio hit “Come Again” before going into “Crystal Ball.”

Celebrating the resonance of Styx’s most recent full-length studio album, which was released on February 18, 2003.

by Mike Mettler

Styx’s last full-length studio album of all-original material, Cyclorama, was released 13 years ago today on February 18, 2003 by Sanctuary/CMC International. The album was produced by Tommy Shaw, James Young, and Gary Loizzo, and it contains such enduring tracks like “One With Everything,” “Yes I Can,” “Killing the Thing That You Love,” “More Love for the Money,” and “Fields of the Brave.”Cyclorama (which also saw a wonderfully enveloping 5.1 surround-sound mix done by Loizzo for both the DVD-Audio and DualDisc formats, via Silverline) reached #127 on The Billboard 200 Albums chart.

In a Styxworld exclusive, guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw recalls the unique location for recording some of the album’s vocal tracks, the initial and wisely discarded title for “One With Everything,” and the ongoing poignancy of “Genki Desu Ka.”

Tommy Shaw: Cyclorama was a fun record to make. It was a real “California experience” type of record. We recorded some of the vocals standing outside. That was in my home studio up in Beachwood Canyon in Los Angeles, where I lived for quite a few years before moving to Nashville. After we released the album, we went on a great tour with Journey and REO Speedwagon, and sold out arenas all across the country [from May to August 2003].

Lawrence [Gowan, keyboardist/vocalist] had been in the band for 3 years at that point, and it was our first album with him. We didn’t realize it at the time, but Glen [Burtnik, bassist/guitarist/vocalist] would be leaving that year around my birthday in September, and that was when [bassist/background vocalist] Ricky Phillips came into the picture. [Glen’s last show with the band was September 14, 2003 at the Los Angeles County Fair, and Ricky’s first gig as a member of Styx was October 24, 2003 at the Grand Casino in Tunica, Mississippi.]

I remember both Lawrence and me standing underneath a palm tree, getting this great vocal sound outside. It’s something we learned from [Damn Yankees producer/engineer] Ron Nevison, who had told us about recording Paul Rodgers outside singing the song “Bad Company.” So we tried it, and we loved it.

[In an interview conducted on June 9, 2014, Paul Rodgers told me about that very recording of the song “Bad Company,” where he was indeed standing outside Headley Grange in England while cutting the song live in November 1973: “When I came to do this vocal, I thought it would be nice to get some atmosphere. We were in an old mansion and we had a mobile unit outside — Ronnie Lane’s Mobile Studio, actually. We stretched the mike leads waaaay across and into the fields out there. I waited until midnight and the full moon, and then I sang it. It was very atmospheric. To me, that’s what music is — creating a mood, and taking the listener to the place that you’re going.”]

We had a great time jamming on those songs. “One With Everything” was this amazing song that went through all sorts of changes. It had a different name at first — something crazy, like “My Beautiful Pompeii.” That was one of those songs where my wife Jeanne would come over and I’d say, “Listen to this song!” We’d start playing it and she’d go, “What the hell — ‘Pompeii’? WHAT???” (laughs heartily)

We realized at that point in our enthusiastic joy of creating this great piece of music that we hadn’t really thought about what we were singing! (laughs again) So there was a quick rewrite to “One With Everything” — which actually had a great deal of meaning. And now we play “One With Everything” every chance we get. It’s one of our favorite things, especially because of the great prog middle section in there.

“Yes I Can” was another one of those California-based songs. The imagery is the California scene.

And we still use the song “Genki Desu Ka” as our walk-off music. “Genki Desu Ka” is Japanese — a very polite way of saying, “Do you feel good?”

And speaking of California, our friend Billy Bob Thornton makes an appearance [doing lead vocals on “Bourgeois Pig”], and Tenacious D is in there somewhere too! [Jack Black and Kyle Gass — a.k.a. Tenacious D — appear on the hidden track “The Chosen One,” which follows directly after “Genki Desu Ka.”]

And Cyclorama also had this great Storm Thorgerson album cover, our final Storm album cover. He did Pieces of Eight (1978) as well. We were proud to be associated with him and his great, iconic album covers. [Thorgerson, who passed away on April 18, 2013, is perhaps best known for designing album covers and related artwork for the likes of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin with partner Aubrey Powell in the graphic design firm Hipgnosis.]

Cyclorama was kind of an experimental record, just to see where we were as a band after having reformed in 1999. We were stretching our legs in the studio, and there was a lot of growth and moving forward. That’s how I look at that album. Whenever I think of Cyclorama, it puts a smile on my face.

by: South Florida Insider

On Friday night fans were time warped back into the 80’s as Tesla, Styx and headliner Def Leppard performed an array of hits, although they did so with Def Leppard’s frontman Joe Elliot noticeably sick…but hey the SHOW MUST GO ON. Nonetheless, the crowd wasn’t swayed in the slightest and just had this eager energy to them all night.

To start the night’s festivities, Tesla with their driving rhythm and harmonic melodies set the tone for what was about to be blasted on our senses. Leading that charge were Jeff Keith’s screams and Troy Luccketta’s pounding drums. You couldn’t help, but feel nostalgic as big hair and leather pants were set to grow on your flesh once again.

However, the illusion was set as STYX graced the stage and began their set withGrand Illusion. With rotating pianos and theatrical lighting, their entire show was really entertaining and a glorious treat for all to see. Lawrence Gowan kept the energy alive with an over-the-top wardrobe and moves on stage that would make Justin Timberlake take a second look. But, if the age of true music wasn’t enough, we had the great opportunity to watch the legend and South Florida resident bassist Chuck Panozzo go off during Light It Up. It was pretty funny seeing a twist to modern time where cell phone lights lit up the arena instead of lighters. Still, even as the world has changed, the same harmonious venture seemed to resonate with the crowd all the same.

Later, as a tribute to the late David Bowie the band performed Life on Mars/Changes. Yet, even then the theatrics were far from over as the crowd erupted with what was believed to be the show’s closer, fan-favorite Come Sail Away. But, as any good band does, there’s always room for an encore and STYX provided that with two songs, Rockin’ in Paradise and Renegade before their journey was over.


DEF LEPPARD has postponed the remaining dates on their Winter 2016 tour due to illness. All shows from Feb. 2 (San Antonio, TX through Feb. 17 (Allentown, PA) will be rescheduled including the previously postponed dates in Greensboro, NC (Jan. 27) and Orlando, FL (Jan. 30).

"We love and respect Def Leppard, and we were all sad to see this magical
tour get postponed before it really began," said Styx guitarist/vocalist
Tommy Shaw. "But we'll all be back out there soon! Live to fight another

Details on new dates will be announced soon. Tickets will be honored on the rescheduled dates. Please stay tuned to for the latest news on the postponed tour dates.

February 02, 2016 – San Antonio, TX (AT&T Center)
February 03, 2016 – Lafayette, LA (Lafayette Cajundome)
February 05, 2016 – Corpus Christi, TX (American Bank Center Arena)
February 06, 2016 – Hidalgo, TX (State Farm Arena)
February 09, 2016 – Little Rock, AR (Verizon Arena)
February 10, 2016 – Bossier City, LA (CenturyLink Center)
February 13, 2016 – Uncasville, CT (Mohegan Sun Arena)
February 14, 2016 – Atlantic City, NJ (Boardwalk Hall)
February 16, 2016 – Brooklyn, NY (Barclays Center)
February 17, 2016 – Allentown, PA (PPL Center)

The DEF LEPPARD concert scheduled to take place tonight at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL has been postponed due to illness. A new date will be announced soon.

Please continue to hold on to your tickets as tickets purchased for the January 30th concert will be honored on the new date.

The Def Leppard concert with STYX scheduled to take place at the Greensboro Coliseum on Wednesday January 27 has been postponed due to illness. A new date will be announced soon.

Please continue to hold on to your tickets as tickets purchased for the January concert will be honored on the new date – no exchange necessary.

Styx celebrates the impact and influence of their longtime producer and live sound engineer, who passed away on January 16.

by Mike Mettler

photo by Jason Powell

“I feel blessed to have worked with Gary for so many years, and to call him my friend. He was a good man, and a straight shooter whose opinions I respected and always took to heart.” — Tommy Shaw

Longtime Styx producer and live engineer Gary Loizzo passed away in Chicago on January 16, 2016, surrounded by his family. He was 70.

Prior to his stellar production career, Gary was the lead vocalist/guitarist of The American Breed who sang the band’s 1968 Top 5 hit single, “Bend Me, Shape Me.” He also got to sing “Bend Me, Shape Me” with Styx as his backing band at the Hollywood Casino Ampitheatre in Tinley Park, Illinois on September 5, 2015, bringing everything full circle — and also created a YouTube favorite in the process. Long as you love me, it’s all right…

“Gary started a band called Gary and the Knight Lites in Chicago before they became known as The American Breed, and they played around a lot and got a lot of local publicity,” recalls Styx cofounding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young. “And my band at the time even opened for them at one point. I did get to sit down with him and reminisce a bit in December. He was one of a kind.”

“What really stands out the most is the person Gary was — a man who led by example,” says guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw. “All of us crazy people out here on the road — he was the guy you looked up to as the most calm and straightforward guy, and the one you could count on at all times to be that person. In fact, he got the name ‘Dad’ from a lot of the younger crew members.”

Adds original bassist Chuck Panozzo, “I loved working with Gary. As a musician himself, he understood exactly how to mix us live and how to get the best out of us when we were in the studio.”

“Gary was extremely dedicated, and extremely meticulous in everything he did,” observes keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan. “He would never let anything just slide. He was always very helpful to me in making sure the keyboards sounded exactly like they were on the records — and there were a lot of keyboards. And I also loved to hear him laugh. I’ll miss that.”

Notes drummer Todd Sucherman, “Gary was a dream mixer, because I knew he could pull out what are called the soft, ghost notes of the snare drum. All the nuances would be heard, no matter what was happening musically. And the feedback I got from my guests over 20 years — the people who would tell me the truth, not just “yeah, yeah, it sounded great” — was that you could hear everything. For 20 years, that’s been the unsolicited feedback I received with that man at the helm.”

“I worked really hard to learn the set when I first joined the band,” recalled bassist Ricky Phillips. “We ran through the set top to bottom nonstop, right through the third encore. Gary came into the room and went, ‘This just might work.’ (laughs) I’m also going to miss being able to get out on the golf course with him. We planned days off around doing that. Sometimes I would stay back an extra day with the crew just so Gary and I could golf together on our day off.”

(Longer remembrances of Gary from each member of Styx will post here on Styxworld soon, so stay tuned.)

Gary had what’s known in the music business as golden ears. He became an integral member of the Styx production team when he first began working with the band as an engineer on their 1974 album Man of Miracles. He garnered a pair of Grammy nominations for Best Engineered Album of the Year for his work on 1979’s multiplatinum-selling Cornerstone and 1983’s Kilroy Was Here, both of which were recorded in Oak Lawn, Illinois at his own Pumpkin Studios, as was 1981’s Paradise Theater, which reached #1 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts. Ultimately, he graduated to the role of the band’s co-producer on albums like 2003’s Cyclorama and 2005’s Big Bang Theory. “Gary understood our music from a live, front-of-house perspective as well as from the console in the recording studio with us. He was a world-class engineer with great ears,” agrees Tommy Shaw. “I feel blessed to have worked with him for so many years, and to call him my friend. He was a good man, and a straight shooter whose opinions I respected and always took to heart.”

So, what was Gary’s secret? He had an inherent knack for knowing exactly how to listen to his artists’ needs and bring them to life in the studio, as well as how to translate those sounds live as a front of house (FOH) mixing engineer. As Gary himself told me this past summer, “I learned that you can get good sound and good performances, but you just have to take a lot of time, and have a lot of care and a lot of patience — and the artist has to cooperate. When I mix in the studio, I mix it as a beautiful collage, so that you can listen ten times and go, ‘Oh, that’s there! Oh, that’s over here!” Each time you listen, it’s always there.’”

Gary was uniquely adept at getting great live sound for the band no matter the venue challenges he faced night after night on the road. All told, he mixed no fewer than 1,500 shows for Styx. (Yes, you read that number right.) “When I mix live, I hit you in the face with it!” he observed. “If I miss it, youmiss it — and you’ll never hear it again in that song. So I mix live as a caricature. I’m pushing things out at people all the time. If I don’t see an audience reaction where there is normally one, I missed it. So that’s the difference between studio mixing and live mixing — one’s a collage, and one’s a caricature. And once I found that out, I became comfortable with mixing live.”

The Styx mixmaster had a very specific philosophy for what he wanted people to hear when he produced live performances for home audio and video releases: “It needs to make you feel like you’re in the seats, watching a concert. You shouldn’t put the people on the stage with the band; that just doesn’t feel right. Early on, I found that’s what I wanted to do, so I brought the music 20 percent more into the house so it was still clear and represented, but I sat the people where I was mixing, so I still felt like it was live in front of me.”

Gary felt his role as producer was to capture the absolute essence of the band. “My job is strictly to record them in their fullest. That’s what I consider my job to be. They have the talent. I just have to make sure it gets recorded properly. I can reel all of that in. I wish I was 100 percent responsible, but I ain’t. Those guys are great directors, and I listen, because I know they’re good. And it always seems to work. It’s a good team.”

Everyone in the Styx “backing band” was quite impressed with Gary’s energetic, rousing performance of “Bend Me, Shape Me” last September. “That was fun to see,” marveled JY immediately following the show. Added Lawrence, “Outstanding! I loved it. I’ve loved that song since I first heard it when I was a kid.” Tommy concurred: “It was a hit single, and the whole audience was singing along with it. Man, it was a really good show! An American Breed apart.”

And that’s Gary Loizzo for you in a nutshell, everyone: He was a rare breed indeed, the likes of whom we will not see again. Enjoy your time behind that great mixing board in the sky, my friend. Your golden ears were a gift to us all.

Gary’s funeral service is being held today in Orland Park, Illinois. You can read his full obituary here:

Styx joins the world in mourning the passing of the Eagles cofounding guitarist/vocalist.

by Mike Mettler

There’s a hole in the world tonight: Eagles cofounding guitarist/vocalist Glenn Frey passed away on January 18 after complications following intestinal surgery. He was 67.

After a stint backing up Linda Ronstadt on her summer 1971 tour, Frey and his partner in songwriting, drummer Don Henley, along with bassist Randy Meisner and guitarist Bernie Leadon, founded the Eagles, a band that blended rock and country styles into a sound that literally defined the ’70s. Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) (1976; 29 million) and Hotel California (1976; 16 million) are two of the best-selling albums of all time.

Glenn’s knack for melody and harmony defined some of the Eagles’ best known and best loved songs — “Take It Easy,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “New Kid in Town,” “Heartache Tonight,” and “Get Over It,” plus solo hits like “Smuggler’s Blues,” “The Heat Is On,” and “You Belong to the City.” Collectively, the Eagles perfected a unique vocal blend that’s best represented on “Seven Bridges Road,” a master class in dynamic range and drama mostly achieved with the human voice (and just a little acoustic guitar).

Styx guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw said, “Glenn Frey and his partner Don Henley created a new genre of music that has become a national treasure, and he will be sorely missed. I would venture to say there’s hardly a person on this planet who doesn’t know more than one Eagles song and has loved them as much as the rest of us do.

“I was shocked and saddened to hear about Glenn Frey’s untimely death. It’s a shame. There was surely still a lot of good music yet to be written. Thank you, Glenn Frey. Rest in peace now, and get busy with that great rock ’n’ roll band in heaven.”

Today’s the day Paradise Theater made history when it was released 35 years ago on January 19, 1981.

by Mike Mettler

Is it any wonder that Paradise Theater made such a lasting impression when it was released 35 years ago today on January 19, 1981? Paradise Theater (or Theatre, depending on which part of the album sleeve you’re viewing) was Styx’s first album to reach #1, which it did for three non-consecutive weeks on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. It ultimately sold over 3 million copies, making it Styx’s fourth multiplatinum album in a row — the first time any rock band in history had ever achieved that sales feat.

Paradise Theater was recorded, engineered, and mixed in 1980 at Pumpkin Studios in Oak Lawn, Illinois with the late, great Gary Loizzo at the helm. (Loizzo passed away on January 16. Look for the entire band’s heartfelt tributes to the man’s indelible legacy soon here on Styxworld.)

The album’s tone was set by the wistful bookends “A.D. 1928” and “A.D. 1958” — and, of course, the album’s final 27 seconds, the Vaudevillian piano outro “State Street Sadie” — all serving to frame a concept album that chronicled the glorious opening and eventual glum closing of a fictional Chicago theater. “I know exactly physically what building I was in when I wrote that riff for ‘Rockin’ the Paradise,’” says cofounding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young. “I still drive by it sometimes in the south suburbs of Chicago, where we were rehearsing at the time. Tommy [Shaw] came up with the verse and Dennis [DeYoung] came up with the lyrics, and there it was.”

Adds original bassist Chuck Panozzo, “Paradise Theater really captured us at our best, when everyone was working towards achieving a common goal. And now I like that we’re able to recreate that feeling of rocking the paradise onstage every night with the people we have in the band.”

Two huge singles emerged from the record. “The Best of Times” made it all the way to #3, and “Too Much Time on My Hands” reached #9. “Too Much Time” remains a crowd favorite and appears in the early part of every night’s live set. “It was kind of like the song was playing in my head,” recalls vocalist/guitarist Tommy Shaw of writing “Time” on the literal last day of recording. “I heard that riff in my head, but I didn’t have anything to record it on as I was driving to the studio. When I got to the parking lot, I turned the car off, ran inside, got everybody together, and said, ‘Chuck, play this riff, and then this.’ It was like it came together in a package and all the pieces were assembled right then and there.”

Other Paradise classic cuts continue to be performed live today, including the aforementioned “Rockin’ the Paradise” — a song that also has the fine distinction of being the tenth video ever shown on MTV when the music channel debuted on August 1, 1981 — and “Snowblind,” which just returned to the live set for the first time in a few years at the show that was the kickoff to the band’s 2016 tour slate in the Saban Theatre in Hollywood on January 14.

Adding to the Paradise coolness factor was the laser-etching of the band’s name along with some theater flourishes on the labeless Side 2 of the album’s initial vinyl release. (They can also be found on subsequent vinyl reissues.) “That was done to thwart bootleggers, which was a big problem back then,” reveals Shaw.

If you’d like to learn more about the origins of Paradise Theater and what all six members of Styx think of it today, you can read about it in an all-new multi-part series in our weekly Styxology column starting next Monday. Styxology is available to all Styx Lounge Fan Club members. Find out how you can join here — and keep alive the memories of Paradise.

Styx takes to Hollywood to kick off the first leg of their 2016 tour, with a certain legendary Starman very much in mind.

by Mike Mettler

photo by Jason Powell

“It felt good getting back out there onstage with everyone. I enjoy watching how the show unfolds, and I’m in it!” —Tommy Shaw

“The Styx calendar has begun here tonight!” exclaimed guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw before introducing original Styx bassist Chuck Panozzo, who joined the band onstage for 2016’s first public run-through of “Fooling Yourself,” thus kicking the new year into high gear on just the right note. Get back on your feet, indeed!

The band’s energetic 100-minute set at the Saban Theatre in Hollywood, California on January 14 was a harbinger of many good 2016 shows to come, including — spoiler alert! — the re-emergence of the Paradise Theater favorite “Snowblind,” sung with a clear vengeance by co-founding vocalist/guitarist James “JY” Young (on the verses) and Shaw (on the choruses). “This is a song we haven’t played in California for a very, very long time,” JY said before diving into the track that will likely be part of many full-length Styx sets this year.

The tour continues tonight at 9 p.m. PST at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino, Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, California.

Looming large over the evening’s proceedings was the band’s ongoing reverence for the late David Bowie. Their love for the Thin White Duke found its way into the set in three spots, beginning with keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan singing a few verses of “Starman” before launching into “Lady,” and then later tackling a piece of “Life on Mars?” as part of the medley before “Come Sail Away.” But the biggest surprise — and current YouTube favorite — was Shaw and Gowan’s unannounced and very much heartfelt run through Bowie’s seminal classic 1969 single “Space Oddity” before “Crystal Ball.”

“It was great watching Tommy and Lawrence backstage last night rehearsing their tribute to David Bowie,” Chuck Panozzo told me in the lobby here at Agua Caliente just a few short hours ago.“What a wonderful addition to the show. I’ll never forget playing with David Bowie on his first tour of the United States [at Performance Hall in Kansas City on October 15, 1972], and the impact he had on this band. This was a guy who was so far ahead of his time, and he was able to continually re-invent himself all throughout his career.”

Backstage in the dressing room area less than an hour prior to the Saban Theatre show, Shaw was conferring with FOH (Front of House) engineer Michelle Pettinato about how he should introduce “Space Oddity” to the crowd. “Should I talk before I go into it, or just start playing it?” he asked. “I think it’s a good idea to just play it and not introduce it,” Michelle responded. The two consulted the evening’s setlist, which was taped up on the wall in production manager Jeff Heintz’s room at the end of the hall, to see where it would be more appropriate for Shaw to do one of his pre-song “talks” (as he calls them), and the space before the mid-set favorite Grand Illusion deep track “Man in the Wilderness” got the nod for the now-shifted speaking spot.

From there, Shaw took his acoustic guitar over to where production manager Brian Wong was sitting in front of his MacBook Pro laptop. Wong had printed out a few “Space Oddity” lyric sheets for Shaw to consult to make sure had had all the words down pat, and Lawrence popped over to harmonize lightly with Shaw on the chorus, calling out the key changes as they went: “A… now C…” Check ignition, and may God’s love be with you…

More show reports live from the road from yr. humble Styxologist to come in the days ahead!


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.

Happy holidays news item: A DVD companion to Styx's live in Las Vegas CD is coming.

by Mike Mettler

photo by Jason Powell

Welcome one and all to Styxworld! To celebrate the holiday season, we have exclusive news as a special gift for you: Styx is hard at work on a DVD companion to the Live at The Orleans Arena Las Vegas CD that came out earlier this year. A release date for the DVD has not yet been set since the extra material is still in the production stages, so keep an eye on the News section here for an update as soon as we have one!

Director/videographer Steven A. Jones confirms just what's being filmed: "We’re shooting an in-depth look at what life on the road is like," he told me outside one of the band's dressing rooms after shooting some interview footage backstage at the L.A. Forum in September. "The audience is used to seeing the band onstage, but we’re trying to show them what the band’s life is besides what they do onstage — such as what riding on the bus is like, what happens at the hotel, and what their routine is that no one ever sees."

Notes guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw, who recently shot some behind-the-scenes footage after Styx wrapped its 2015 touring schedule, "We’re always trying to figure out a way to distinguish one live thing from another, other than just the chronological aspect of it: 'Here we are playing on this date at this time at this place.' Nobody really sees what our day is like on the road, especially after a day off. The live show that we did last year was just that day [July 25, 2014, during the Soundtrack of Summer Tour]. The footage is awesome and the performances are really good, but we were just rolling through town that day. Since then, we’ve been figuring out what to do about the extra material."

Adds cofounding guitarist/vocalist James "JY" Young, "The original idea — which was never written down; it was just verbalized — was that it was just going to be about being on the road. Me, I am happy to sit there and be interviewed, which I did do. The beauty for me is I can soliloquize about filling in the blanks about the songs that are going to be on the DVD. I wanted to get into the stories about what went into recording them, and how those songs fit into the current set. But it is also fun seeing that behind-the-scenes stuff. I’m charmed at what Lawrence [Gowan, keyboardist/vocalist] does, and I like it when everybody else talks."

Gowan himself is also excited at the prospect of sharing this new material. "I've seen some of that footage already, and it's quite good," he says. "It's next to impossible to capture what it's really like backstage, but you do get a little of that with what's been filmed, especially from the crew's perspective. I find that interesting myself, and I'm as close to their world as anyone can be. There's still an extra layer, an extra point of view, and an extra camera angle to discover. It's not so much 'behind the scenes' as it is widening the lens on all that goes on in the whole Styx enterprise."

I asked Jones, a lifelong friend of Young's who's also an acclaimed film producer (Mad Dog and Glory, Wild Things), if he saw anything that surprised him while he was shooting. "One of the surprises was when Tommy said that when they stay at these big hotels, he runs up and down the stairs — and usually more than once," Jones says. "He goes and finds where the entrances and exits are, and then he’ll go do them again."

Jones was also impressed by the band's collective fitness regimen and commitment to a common goal. "The thing is, these days, they all seem quite conscious of their health," he reports. "When you ask the bandmembers what their favorite songs are, half of them say, 'All of them.' And when you ask them what their hobbies are, they go, 'No, this is what I do. This is my life, right here.' ”

Like we said at the outset, stay tuned for information on an official release date for the DVD — and, hopefully, a Blu-ray as well — once we get it.

And for those of you new to our site, if you're interested in learning even more about what goes on with the band behind the scenes on a regular basis, you can read my weekly Styxology column every Monday by becoming a Styx Lounge Fan Club member. Just click on the Join header above — or click right here — to find out how to do so. In the meantime, happy holidays and Happy New Year, everyone! See you all out there on the road in 2016!

Styx's drummer recalls the cool band he was in before he joined Styx in 1996.

by Mike Mettler

Styx drummer extraordinaire Todd Sucherman took to his Facebook page on December 19 to pen a fond remembrance of his days in the Chicago band The Falling Wallendas, now that their two fine power-pop-driven albums have recently become available for digital purchase.

Sucherman has given Stxyworld exclusive permission to share his Wallendian words here for all Styx fans new and old to enjoy, so read on!

The two records I played on from the mid-’90s by The Falling Wallendas are finally available on iTunes,Amazon, and Spotify. Allow me to tell a (long) short story about this wonderful, unique, and ultimately luckless band that made two great records that went against the grain during the time when Nirvana and Pearl Jam were kings.

Scott Bennett, the ridiculously talented multi-instrumentalist, singer, and writer was doing tons of recording sessions with me in the early ’90s. He had worked with Allen Keller (another amazing talent) years before. Long story short, I was recruited to be the drummer in their joint writing venture and then Arch Alcantara came on board as guitarist. We were soon a real band, and started playing a bunch of shows as we worked on our first (self-titled) record that was to be put out by the new upstart indie label, IMI Records. We worked with Doug McBride at Gravity Studios in Chicago, and when the record came out, the Chicago Tribune gave it 3½ out of 4 stars, calling the debut “nothing short of breathtaking” and “great music.”

Another description of the music from someone else was, “like a Twinkie with a formaldehyde center.” Hey, off to a great start! More shows at places like The Double Door, Metro, and The Empty Bottle, and then Milwaukee venues like Brett’s, The Globe, and Shank Hall continued, but nothing seemed to be moving us forward.

Arch Alcantara then left the band and Ted Kezio joined us on guitar, bringing another flavor. We went up to Butch Vig’s Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin to cut the 2nd record, Belittle. While the first release had more melodic pop moments (slivers of XTC and Jellyfish), this new one really took on a life of its own. Allen Keller’s brilliant dark and twisted (but so smart and clever) lyrics mixed with Ted’s playing so well — and Ted came with a large knowledge of jazz, so that added a sinister flavor to this “alternative rock” music. Scott blossomed into one of my favorite bass players of all time, and my playing had a better focus.

Drumming side note: I have nostalgia for the first record, but it’s one of those things that I wish I could “do over” with what I know now. Too many “fusion” origins to some of the ideas, and it’s full of youthful exuberance, I suppose. I do quite like it in retrospect, and it does put a smile on my face. But there was a maturity on the second record that still pleases me.

And a note to any musicians in bands: It’s a great idea to get the hell out of your hometown and make a record as a band in another city. Nothing bonds you like this. You’re there for every note. There’s no going home for a few hours, running errands — you’re there fully in body and spirit. Making Belittle in Madison with these guys was the only single time in my life that I had the feeling of, “Oh… this is gonna be big.”

Well, more shows were played, good reviews received, and it seemed like we were treading water playing music that didn’t seem to be particularly in vogue at the time. We were ahead of our time (or behind), perhaps. We could really play our instruments. And it seemed we were on the bill with many bands who simply… couldn’t.

Our business model was also a little out of whack. We once had a gig in Minneapolis, and the weather went from bad to worse. We decided to fly there at the last minute, stay at a nice hotel, and eat well. We spent $1,900 to make 400 bucks. That type of thing can only last so long!

1995 came and went, and in early ’96, I was offered the Styx tour for the summer, an offer I couldn’t refuse. It also meant leaving a band I loved and believed in, but I also sensed the writing was on the wall. They carried on and made a great EP with Bobby MacIntyre on drums. And that was that.

Ultimately, I have such amazing memories, had so many laughs, ups and lots of downs with these guys… but the pleasure and privilege was really all mine. I’m tremendously proud of the work we did on these two records. They hold up after all this time. None of us are going to make any money from these recordings finally being available, but that’s not the point now. The point is, they are indeed finally available in the digital age, and I hope those that are interested discover it and enjoy it. We made some great music, and like some great music — you need to hear it a few times for it to sink in. I hope you’ll agree.

I also hope there’s a digital booklet available for those that like to read the lyrics, because those who do are in for a real treat. And one more thing… we also played the hell out of this stuff live. What a band it was! In some alternate universe, The Falling Walledas are a huge, huge band.

In 2000, a large Falling Wallendas poster was predominately displayed on the record store counter in the John Cusack/Jack Black movie High Fidelity, which was a nice thing to happen to the band posthumously. In 2007, we played a reunion show at the Cat Club in Los Angeles. We hadn’t played a show in well over 10 years. After the last song, Scott Bennett ended the night by saying into the microphone, “Thank you. We were… The Falling Wallendas.”


Oh mama! Tommy looks back on his five amazing decades in the band (and counting).

by Mike Mettler

photo by Jason Powell

The jig is up, the news is out, y’all — it was 40 years ago today, on December 12, 1975, that Tommy Shaw joined Styx. After a whirlwind audition process, Shaw got the nod to replace co-founding guitarist/vocalist John “JC” Curulewski, who departed the band on December 6, less than a week after the release of Equinox, Styx’s pivotal fifth album and its first on A&M Records, on December 1, 1975.

Just like that, in the wake of JC quitting, Styx had to cancel some tour dates, regroup in its hometown of Chicago, and instantly put out the clarion call for a replacement guitarist so they could get the show right back out on the road. Enter Tommy Shaw, who joined Styx on December 12 after the above-mentioned successful audition took place and played his first show with the band on December 16, 1975, at the Municipal Auditorium in Zanesville, Ohio.

In a Styxworld exclusive, Tommy recalls the circumstances leading up to his becoming a member of the band and what it feels like all these decade later to keep on rockin’ the paradise for Styx fans the world over night after night. Happy anniversary, Mr. Shaw! Here’s to many, many more.

Hard to believe it’s been 40 years since I was invited to join Styx. I’ve often heard the phrase “thoughts become things,” but this made me a believer. I’d had a great run with my old friends from my hometown of Montgomery, Alabama — we called our band Harvest — playing in the Bama Bowl bowling alley lounge called Kegler’s Cove. It was a beautiful antidote for the “Rock Band versus Disco” experience that the band I’d joined up with in Nashville several years earlier, MS Funk, had finally succumbed to.

It was a year after graduating from Robert E. Lee High School that I got a call from Nashville talent agent Bobby “Smitty” Smith to come up to Music City and be part of a band he was putting together — which didn’t work out, by the way. But while I was there, I met the seven-piece horn band MS Funk in a club where they were performing, and next thing I knew, we headed off for a 2-year road trip, eventually settling down in Chicago.

It was at “Rush Up” on Rush Street where Styx’s tour manager Jim Vose introduced himself to me. When Styx was looking to replace John Curulewski in December 1975, it was Jim who found me in Montgomery and persuaded me on the phone that this was an opportunity I should not pass up.

The thought had only recently popped into my head that, as much as I loved Harvest, I was still drawn to seeing what else was out there beyond my hometown. I didn’t realize that the hundreds of MS Funk gigs we’d played were about to bear fruit to those thoughts.

It happened so quickly because John had left suddenly, just days after the release of Equinox, and they had a national tour booked with the tickets already on sale. My biggest concern was leaving my Montgomery bandmates on such short notice. JY [Styx co-founding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young] told me that they’d give my friends a week’s pay to give them a chance to work a new person in. That made it an offer I couldn’t refuse!

I would say I had mixed emotions the day I joined Styx because I was having to say goodbye to this band I really loved to go on to do something I already knew was going to be bigger right from the very beginning. It was still kind of an unknown to me, because I would be moving back to Chicago — or at least working out of Chicago. One thing I knew was I was going to be moving out of Montgomery, and having to relocate somewhere else.

So there was all that to deal with, but there was also the excitement of having listened to all of those Styx songs that I was going to be playing, knowing that I was going to have just one day of rehearsal. Lots of mixed emotions, as I said.

They gave me the albums and the set list so I could learn everything; I think it was about 16 songs. I knew all of it was coming. It was already December, with all of the pressure that comes with it. That, on top of it all, made it a very interesting holiday season for me.

But it didn’t take long for it to become pure excitement, once I got packed and went up to Chicago. The clock started ticking. There was one day of rehearsal at SIR, where we basically just went through it. And I got it! And off we went.

So to be in Styx now, 40 years later — well, we’ve seen a lot of changes. The world has changed a lot and the music industry has changed a few times. But the band is still as resilient as ever, and it’s been flexible and adaptable throughout those changes.

I was just as excited to take the stage with this band last night as I was 40 years ago. It’s always a challenge to rise up to, night after night. That’s one thing I can say about Styx: It has never been an area of complacency when you walk on that stage. The attitude always is, “Dig down and give it everything you’ve got.”

I don’t know if there’s any other way to be a member of Styx. That’s just how it’s wired. It was then; it is now. There’s always this joy factor that’s part of Styx music in general, but that’s also part of Styx music being performed live. And I think that’s one reason the fans keep being a part of it, because we’re all in it together. So thanks for sharing 40 great years with me. The best is yet to come!


December 9, 2015 -- In 2015, STYX--Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitar), James “JY” Young (guitar, vocals), Chuck Panozzo (bass), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards), Ricky Phillips (bass) and Todd Sucherman (drums)--celebrated a milestone anniversary, a national TV broadcast and another hugely successful summer tour. Time never stops for this legendary band.

They started the year with headlining tour dates of their own, as well as their first national TV broadcast in over two years, “Live At The Orleans Arena Las Vegas,” which aired on AXS TV on Sunday, March 15. STYX’s show was filmed at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV in front of a sold-out audience during last year’s “The Soundtrack of Summer” tour, which also featured Foreigner and former Eagles guitarist Don Felder. STYX performed many of their greatest hits, including “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” and “The Grand Illusion.” They even dug deep into their catalog for such fan favorites as “Light Up” and were joined on stage by Don Felder for “Blue Collar Man.” Fans who were unable to watch the concert can finally catch a glimpse of “Blue Collar Man” on STYX’s newly revamped official YouTube page.

Earlier this summer, STYX joined Def Leppard and Tesla on a massive tour that spanned late June through early October in front of one critically acclaimed sold-out audience after another. Now due to overwhelming demand, Def Leppard, STYX and Tesla will commence on a three-week jaunt starting January 27 in Greensboro, NC.

More recently, in response to the horrific attacks in Paris on November 13, STYX and REO Speedwagon’s Rock To The Rescue organization donated $25,000 to The Sweet Stuff Foundation to help families affected by the tragedy.

“We feel terribly saddened and outraged by these attacks,” said Styx guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw. “We hope that our contribution will help ease some of the pain and some of the expenses of what this means to the families as they go through the process of grieving and bringing their loved ones home. Josh (Homme) and (Eagles of Death Metal) lost a crew member and employees of their record label, Universal, during the terrorist attacks. This hits home for us because we’re also on the same label, and we deeply love our employees and our crew. Our hearts, minds, and prayers are with all the victims, and we urge all fans of Styx, Eagles of Death Metal, and classic rock who feel touched by this to join us in contributing. Thank you from everyone in the Styx family for your compassion.”

In addition to a last round of headlining tour dates that will conclude December 12 in Windsor, Ontario, STYX is ending the year on a high note. They recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of their fifth EQUINOX album, which was released on December 1, 1975. It was the band's first album on A&M Records, after releasing their first four albums on Wooden Nickel/RCA. Right out of the gate, EQUINOX's lead track, “Light Up,” fused the band’s best instincts for how to blend harmonies, keyboard hooks, and power chords together to memorable effect, resulting in a song that continues to grace many of Styx's live set lists today. Two other hard-driving singalong EQUINOX songs, “Lorelei” and “Suite Madame Blue,” are also in regular live rotation.

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