News

by Mike Mettler

Even though he spent much of the summer of 2018 on the road touring with Styx, co-founding bassist Chuck Panozzo always finds the time to both honor his roots and support his core activist beliefs whenever he’s back home in the Sunshine State of Florida. To that end, Chuck recently served as the Grand Marshal for the 19th Annual Stonewall Pride Parade & Festival in Wilton Manors, Florida, which was held back on June 16.

In addition to those hallowed duties, Chuck was also given the Key to the city by long-term Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick, pictured above holding the key itself while standing next to Chuck (in his trademark shades), with other city officials around them.

“Receiving the Key to my adopted hometown and being selected as Grand Marshal of this parade are such great honors,” Chuck said exclusively to Styxworld. “I’m proud to be who I am every day. I feel that standing up for what we believe in and love is more important than ever.”

Mayor Resnick echoed Chuck’s sentiments. “It was a great honor and privilege to present a Key to Charles for his activism and selfless support of the city, its residents, and also its many local organizations and charities with great pride,” the Mayor told us, adding, “Charles has shown us all an undying respect for well over 15 years since his moving here. Life’s just better here with Charles calling Wilton Manors, Florida his home.”

We heartily agree, Mr. Mayor. The tireless work you, the city, and Chuck do for such worthy causes is a Mission we can all get behind, don’t you think?




by Mike Mettler

Styx’s mega-triple-platinum smash success Pieces of Eight was released 40 years ago today by A&M Records on September 1, 1978. Featuring a stunning cover design by Hipgnosis — the British company known for creating album-package artwork for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, UFO, 10cc, and scores of other bands — Pieces of Eight become the second of four consecutive Styx albums to sell two million (or more) copies, the first time any band in rock history had ever done so.

The album’s overall production credit was again given to the entire band (“Produced by Styx”), with engineering by longtime collaborators Barry Mraz and Rob Kingsland. Po8 was recorded at Paragon Studios in Chicago.

Po8, the band's eighth studio album, reached as high as #6 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, and boasted three hit singles, all penned by guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw: “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” which reached #21; “Sing for the Day,” which got to #41; and “Renegade,” which made it all the way to #16.

Pieces of Eight features many key tracks in the Styx canon that remain staples in the band’s current extended live set: the aforementioned and always hard-charging “Blue Collar Man” (the show’s onetime bring-it-on-home song that fairly recently has been vaulted up to the second position in the beginning of the set, following “Gone Gone Gone”); “Pieces of Eight” (which, for a time prior to the release of the band’s stellar 2017 studio album The Mission, featured keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan’s furiously engaging original piano instrumental “Khedive” as its intro); “Sing for the Day” (an acoustic-driven Shaw treasure that also served as the title for his May 27, 2016 solo show with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra in Cleveland and was just released on Blu-ray and CD by Eagle Rock back on June 29); and, of course, “Renegade,” the set-ending barnburner that has gained additional life not only as a fourth-quarter rallying cry for the Pittsburgh Steelers (more on that in just a bit!) but also served as the theme for Season 2 of the quite intense Netflix drama Narcos.

Me, I’m also partial to the Gowan-sung version of “Queen of Spades,” which appears in 2011’s two-disc Regeneration collection. (His unbridled cackle before the line, “You lose!” is priceless.) And, as many of you will recall, Styx performed Pieces of Eight (the first Styx album your humble Styxologist ever bought) in full alongside 1977’s epic The Grand Illusion on tour for a few select dates in 2010, which can be found on the live CD, DVD, and/or Blu-ray set, The Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight Live (Eagle).

Incidentally, the design and positioning of the “mature” female heads on the Po8 cover itself is patterned after the monolithic stone statues that appear all throughout Easter Island in the Valparaiso region of Chile. The statues were carved by the island’s native Polynesian inhabitants, the Rapa Nui.

Toto guitarist/vocalist Steve Lukather cites “Blue Collar Man” as his favorite Styx song, as he told me, “They write really well-crafted songs. They’re a solid band, you know? They’re really good live — and that’s how you know it’s the real thing.” (Naturally, we here at Styxworld agree with this assessment from the guitar maestro sometimes known as Cool Hand Luke.)

Many people assume the protagonist in “Sing for the Day” was named after Tommy’s daughter Hannah Shaw (a.k.a. “The Kitten Lady”), but she was in fact born in 1987, a full 9 years after the Po8album was released. The “Hannah” whom Shaw namechecks throughout the song is meant to be the representative embodiment of the mutual respect between the band and their substantive female following.

And in case you were wondering, the absolutely brilliant pipe-organ solo performed by keyboardist/vocalist Dennis DeYoung in the middle of “I’m O.K.” was recorded at the St. James Cathedral, which is located at the corner of Huron and Wabash Streets in Chicago. It is the oldest Episcopal Church in the United States, having been founded in 1834 and completed in 1857.

Of “Renegade,” possibly his most well-known and most enduring song, Shaw told me, “I wrote that song in my living room on my piano back when I lived in Michigan. Nobody else was around, and for it to become something that Steelers players and fans love, and is now a part of a show I enjoy watching, is so surreal to me! I’m so grateful for how much it means to our own fans, and how it endures to this day.” 

Meanwhile, co-founding Styx guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young revealed to me the secret to all those axe-scorching riffs he plays on the song: “To me, it’s Jeff Beck 101,” JY observed. “As far as the guitar solo goes, it took me all day to do it. I used my old ’65 Stratocaster, which had not really been modified in any way at that point in time, played through the Yoshinarator into a Marshall stack, as recorded by Barry Mraz.” [The Yoshinarator preamp/distortion unit was custom-built for JY and designed around his ’65 Strat by Dave Yoshinari, a friend of his with whom he attended the Illinois Institute of Technology.]

Since January 2002, the Pittsburgh Steelers have regularly shown a video compilation of their defense in action with “Renegade” as the soundtrack on the JumboTron at Heinz Field whenever the team needs a boost, usually in the fourth quarter.

On the impact of “Renegade,” Hall of Famer left outside linebacker Kevin Greene said, “I hate to ‘claim’ that one, but it is a Steelers song. It’s an ass-kicking song, and it just really speaks to the Steelers and the steel-mill town mentality. You know, we are renegades, we are long hair, we’re out there being wild and free and having fun and kicking people’s asses!

Added Hall of Fame running back Jerome “The Bus” Bettis, “As a football player from Pittsburgh, I just wanted to let those guys in Styx know how important ‘Renegade’ was to me as a player — and the fact that they allowed us to play that song, because it brought us so much joy. But it also brought some wins. It helped the defense pick it up. It made a difference with us, and those guys need to hear it from me how important that was.”

Message duly received by “Renegade” songwriter Tommy Shaw, by the way: “Im completely blown away by hearing this!”

“Renegade” was also covered in fine kickass fashion last year by Shallow Side, an up-and-coming rock band from Tommy’s home state of Alabama. “It’s one of those songs that, when you play it and you’re nailing it and everyone’s on their spots, you can just feel it,” noted Shallow Side vocalist Eric Boatright. “The emotions surrounding it when we were doing it had that same vibe, so that’s where we were coming from. We wanted to make it our own and add a newer vibe to it, and bring some of the new age of rock & roll to it, right there where it left off.”

Songwriter Shaw wholly approves: “I’m impressed by those guys. Good arrangement, good performance, good video. By far, this is my favorite cover of ‘Renegade.’ Everyone in the band really liked it too. We love the song, love the video, and think the band has a great vibe. They seem like the real deal. They’ve got soul.” Oh, Mama!!!




It's the 6th annual Styx NFL Pool!

Sign ups begin TODAY an end on September 6 - so be sure to sign up while you can for the chance to have some football fun and possibly win some prizes!

JOIN HERE

This Year's Prizes (the best part): 

*TOP 5 Slots will win prizes.*

1st place: 2 tickets to a STYX show of choice in 2019 (with a mutually agreed upon date) AND a signed NFL Football by STYX OR a signed Guitar. 

2nd place: Either a signed NFL football or a signed Guitar (whichever one 1st place didn’t choose) 

3rd place: A signed The Mission Vinyl and a signed 5.1 The Mission Album

4th & 5th place: will receive a vintage signed Styx Poster




August 6, 2018 - On Sunday, August 19, STYX’s current headlining tour will bring them to the Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding, CA, near the origin of the massive Carr Fire, which has been called the sixth most destructive fire in state history is still only 45 percent contained after more than a week. In response to the devastation, the band is making a donation of $5,000 to the Shasta Regional Community Foundation via their Rock To The Rescue 501(c)3 organization, which will be matched by the band themselves as well as venue out of net proceeds from the show up to $15,000. There will also be ways for fans to donate at the show, which is not being cancelled, and fans are being encouraged to donate directly to the charity’s website. Tickets for the concert are still available at https://bit.ly/2vcwxZZ.

Check out this PSA from the band (singer/guitarist Tommy Shaw, co-founding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young, keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan, original bassist Chuck Panozzo, drummer/percussionist Todd Sucherman and bassist Ricky Phillips): https://youtu.be/nktANLpsLa4.

Says STYX bassist Ricky Phillips:

“Hey Redding, This is Ricky Phillips from the rock band STYX and we’re coming to the Civic Auditorium on August 19. Having grown up in Redding, I was quite taken by the fact that my band and management wanted to immediately make a donation to Redding and our neighboring communities of Shasta County who have been affected by the Carr Fire. Partnering with Shasta Regional Community Foundation, we have been searching for ways to assist even further. A portion of our proceeds from the show at the Civic is now a part of this effort, and the Civic Auditorium is making a separate donation as well. There was some heartfelt discussion between STYX management and representatives in Redding. The result, what could have been a canceled show, was eventually deemed necessary as, ‘a needed and welcome distraction...a place for unity...and even celebration.’ Whatever the reason for attendance, I can promise you a kick ass rock show and a great evening of entertainment. We have just come off of a coast-to-coast tour promoting the success of our latest release, THE MISSION, and we’re excited to be playing an evening of STYX classic hits for y’all that will span the decades from the ‘70s to the present. On behalf of my brothers in STYX, we are looking forward to the Redding performance and to be that ‘distraction’ at this sensitive time in our Redding history.”

The Carr Fire has burned more than 163,000 acres and has destroyed over 1,000 homes and nearly 500 buildings, including barns and warehouses, since it started July 23. Over 38,000 people were forced from their homes and it has killed seven people, including two firefighters.

Rock To The Rescue is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to build strong, healthy communities through the support of grassroots organizations across the country. At every STYX tour date, Rock To The Rescue partners with a local group to give back through community outreach, fundraising, and volunteer support. It originally started in 2001 as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is the brainchild of STYX’s Tommy Shaw and REO SPEEDWAGON’s Kevin Cronin. The two musicians brought together bands and artists such as Bad Company, Journey, Survivor, Kansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others to be part of “Volunteers For America” concert events in Dallas and Atlanta that ultimately raised over $775,000 for victims of 9/11, as well as the Port Authority police department in New York City. In 2013, Rock To The Rescue hosted a sold-out concert with STYX, REO Speedwagon, Ted Nugent, Survivor, Richard Marx and Larry The Cable Guy, in Bloomington, IL at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum that raised $450,000 for victims of the horrible storms in Illinois. Also in 2013, Rock To The Rescue presented the Boston One Fund with a check for $108,000 for victims of the Boston marathon bombings as a result of funds raised during the “The Midwest Rock ‘N Roll Express” tour with STYX, REO Speedwagon and Ted Nugent.  In 2014, Rock To The Rescue raised $10,000 for the Philadelphia Fire Department Local #22 Widows Fund at the “Soundtrack of Summer” show (with Foreigner and former Eagles guitarist Don Felder) in Camden, NJ on July 3, as a thank you to the local fire department for cooling down STYX’s burning crew bus the day before. On November 19, 2015, Rock To The Rescue donated $25,000 to The Sweet Stuff Foundation to help victims of the Paris terrorist attacks. In honor of the musicians and crew who lost their lives in the attack at The Bataclan music venue in Paris where Eagles of Death Metal were performing, from that date through December 31, 2015, Sweet Stuff dedicated all money received directly to the surviving families of those who passed away, including that of the band’s merchandise manager, Nick Alexander. The Sweet Stuff Foundation was founded by Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, who is also a key recording member of Eagles of Death Metal. 

www.shastarcf.org/funds/cdrf

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SING FOR THE DAY!, TOMMY SHAW’s solo 2016 concert performance with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra made a grand debut on four of Billboard’s charts this week, including #5 on the “Classical Albums” chart. It also debuted at #5 on the “Classical Crossover Albums” chart, #6 on the “Top DVD Music Videos” chart, #8 on the “Music Video Sales” chart, and #49 on the “Rock Albums” chart. SING FOR THE DAY! was released June 29 via Eagle Rock Entertainment on Blu-ray, CD, and Digital Audio / Video. It jumped to #2 in its second week on the “Top DVD Music Videos” chart.

“I’ve gotten used to being part of the Classic Rock family of bands,” explains SHAW, “but the news of debuting at #5 on the ‘Classical Albums’ chart is something I never anticipated! It was a magical evening of music I’ll never forget.” 

Filmed before an enthusiastic audience at the intimate Waetjen Auditorium in Cleveland, SING FOR THE DAY! presents unique versions of such classics as “Blue Collar Man,” “Girls With Guns,” and “Too Much Time On My Hands.” Under the direction of principal conductor / founder Liza Grossman, with accompaniment by guitarist/musical director Will Evankovich, the Cleveland-based Contemporary Youth Orchestra blended seamlessly with Shaw to create a one-of-a-kind experience. The songs of STYX / TOMMY SHAW / Damn Yankees are infused with the energy of the finest high-school-aged musicians in Ohio, as evidenced by such performances as the epic duel between SHAW’s guitar licks and a prodigious young violinist / CYO alum Lavinia Pavlish on “Renegade.”

Additionally, the set includes a special version of the STYX classic “Crystal Ball” featuring the debut of a lost verse that was never recorded.

As TOMMY SHAW says, “SING FOR THE DAY!, a retrospective look at some of my favorite songs I’ve written and co-written, performed with  Contemporary Youth Orchestra, now remixed in glorious 5.1, takes them all to a higher place I’d never imagined."

This show also marked the 10-year anniversary of STYX’s original 2006 performance with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra -- One With Everything (previously released via Eagle Rock Entertainment on multiple formats). 

It was truly a night to remember, as SHAW notes: "It was so much bigger and more everlasting than any of us imagined it would be."

In addition to the full 13-song set, the SING FOR THE DAY! Blu-ray includes 96K stereo audio of four songs with TOMMY SHAW and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra not included in the program -- “Down That Highway,” “The Great Divide,” “I’ll Be Coming Home,” and “The Night Goes On” -- soundtracking a slideshow of photos from the show, rehearsals, and behind-the-scenes.

The high chart debuts are no doubt thanks in part to AXSTV’s “Saturday STYX” block of programming that aired on June 30, headlined by insightful conversations and classic performances. The day began with “The Big Interview” for a sit-down with Dan Rather, TOMMY SHAW, JAMES “JY” YOUNG, and LAWRENCE GOWAN to discuss the band’s legendary career, the creative process behind some of their most enduring songs, and what drives them to keep performing. Next, STYX joined The Red Rocker for an epic hangout session backstage at The Venetian in Las Vegas in “Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar.” Then, the band sailed into Sin City for an unforgettable career-spanning set in “STYX: Live At The Orleans Arena Las Vegas,” followed by “Sing For The Day!

“TOMMY SHAW’s performance with the incredibly talented Contemporary Youth Orchestra and led by Conductor Liza Grossman was truly a landmark event,” said Evan Haiman, Vice President Of Programming And Development, AXS TV. “Our team at AXS TV was honored to have been a part of this outstanding one of a kind program, delivering the special to a passionate audience of classic rock connoisseurs across the country, and bringing increased awareness to these gifted students.”

In further STYX news, the highly anticipated reissue of their critically acclaimed first new studio album in 14 years, THE MISSION, will be released July 27 via Alpha Dog 2T/UMe. The two-disc package will include a CD of the original album, as well as a Blu-ray of THE MISSION mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound by singer/guitarist TOMMY SHAW and producer Will Evankovich accompanied by stunning visualizations for each of the album’s 14 songs based on the album artwork. Other extras on the Blu-ray include: “The Making of The Mission Documentary” of exclusive interviews of SHAW and Evankovich, four music videos—“Gone Gone Gone” (official video), “Gone Gone Gone” (video created by NASA), “Radio Silence” (lyric video) and “Radio Silence” (live video from Syracuse, NY)—and three hi-res audio playback modes. Pre-orders are available now here.

"THE MISSION, a concept album of all new music, is a trip,” declares TOMMY SHAW. “Now it’s coming to you in 5.1 Surround and you’re cordially invited to strap yourselves in and take that trip with us, then take it again!”

THE MISSION was released June 16, 2017 and debuted on various Billboard charts, including: #6 Top Rock Albums, #11 Physical Albums, #11 Vinyl Albums, #13 Current Albums, #14 Top Albums, #16 Retail, #17 Mass Merch/Non-Traditional, #29 Digital Albums, and #45 Top 200 Albums (includes catalog and streaming).

In touring news, STYX wrapped up their co-headlining trek with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and Tesla in Holmdel, NJ Sunday night at the PNC Bank Arts Center in front of a sold-out crowd. They’ll now head back out on their own headlining dates throughout the rest of the year. New shows are already in the works for 2019 and will be announced in the coming months.




Come on in and see what’s happening: Styx’s biggest-selling album, The Grand Illusion, turns 41 today, having been released by A&M Records on the cosmically cool stardate of July 7, 1977 — or, as it’s better known on the back of many a Styx t-shirt, 7/7/77.

by Mike Mettler

Demo’ed at S.I.R. Rehearsal Studios and ultimately recorded at Paragon Recording Studios in Chicago in early 1977, The Grand Illusion was engineered by Barry Mraz and Rob Kingsland, but the overall production credit was given to the entire band in the liner notes as simply, “Produced by Styx.”

The Grand Illusion reached as high as No. 6 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, and it spawned two Top 30 singles — “Come Sail Away” reached #8, and “Fooling Yourself” reached #29. The album has been certified triple platinum by the RIAA, selling over 3 million copies to date. Any bets on when it’ll “officially” surpass 4 million? During the band’s current summer tour — which touches down tonight oh-so-appropriately in their hometown, Chicago — Styx co-founding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young has often noted before launching into “Miss America” that the album has in fact sold 6 million copies to date, and that “over 1 million of them were 8-tracks!” (Ah, the good ol’ days of make-do in-car formats. . .)

At any rate, The Grand Illusion was the first entry in the band’s groundbreaking string of releasing four multiplatinum albums in a row — a feat no other band had ever done before, BTW. The album’s iconic cover art by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse is modeled after Belgian surrealist René Magritte’s 1965 piece titled Le Blanc Seing, a.k.a. The Blank Check. (Tip for all you concertgoers this summer: Watch the massive screen behind the band carefully whenever they play any of the four songs from this album during their headlining set — you might just see some, shall we say, interesting movements afoot.)

Styx played The Grand Illusion in its entirety when it was paired with Pieces of Eight on a 2010 tour that’s since been commemorated on CD, DVD, and Blu-ray. Its core songs remain as indelible fixtures in the band’s live set, which can also feature Illusion album-track gems like “Man in the Wilderness,” “Superstars,” and “Castle Walls” during certain, extended headlining shows when other bands do not appear on that evening’s bill.

As noted, three of the album’s core songs appear in every show: 1) the title track, “The Grand Illusion,” which is now the second full song performed just about every night and is sung with much aplomb and panache by keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan; 2) “Fooling Yourself,” which, if he’s in the house that night, will also feature original bassist Chuck Panozzo playing on the entire track and taking its brief but iconic bass break the moment guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw calls out, “Chuckie!” (with Ricky Phillips then pulling double-duty on bass himself via a double-neck 12-string); and 3) “Come Sail Away,” which closes every main set with great cosmic bombast, and, at the song’s conclusion — if you’re lucky, and if the venue allows it — features cannons releasing lots and lots of confetti into and onto the audience from either side of the stage.

As easy as it is to sing along to it, “Fooling Yourself” is actually one of the most complex musical pieces the band has ever composed. Both its intro and outro are performed in 6/8 time, while the vocal sections are in 4/4. The synthesizer solo section is in 7/4 before returning to 4/4 for the final chorus. Two measures of 5/8 follow the brief intro recap with a return to 6/8 and another synthesizer solo before the fadeout. Aforementioned bassist/vocalist Ricky Phillips confirms “Fooling Yourself” has always been his favorite composition by Styx: “People ask me, ‘What is it that gives Styx their sound?’ The way Tommy and JY play together has been a huge part of that sound, but it’s also the odd time signatures like you get in this song.”

Towards the end of the recording sessions for The Grand Illusion, an Oberheim 4 Voice analog synthesizer arrived in the studio to further enhance the proceedings. “Its rich sounds unleashed another dimension of textures no one had yet taken advantage of,” observes Tommy Shaw. Lawrence Gowan has since made sure to program that vintage Oberheim sound into his current touring rig so that he can call it up for whatever song that needs it.

Eagle-ear listeners will also note that vintage Oberheim sound quite deliberately lends a certain authentic weight to Styx’s most recent studio album, The Mission, which was released little over a year ago on June 16, 2017 on LP, CD, and digital-download formats via Alpha Dog 2T/UMe. Tommy confirms the sound of The Grand Illusion — along with that of 1978’s Pieces of Eight and Side 2 of 1975’s Equinox — was instrumental in that critical Mission production/performance gear decision.

And now, in a Styxworld exclusive, all six bandmembers recount the impact The Grand Illusion has had over the years — and continues to have, night in and night out. The stage is set. . .

James “JY” Young (co-founding guitarist/vocalist): Dennis [DeYoung] is the one who gleaned the idea that it was our seventh record. I think the release date had originally been scheduled for 7/8/77, or something like that, and we went, “No, we want it on 7/7/77.” Just trying to stack the deck — not that we’re superstitious, or anything. (chuckles) So they changed the original release date to the 7th — which is fantastic! It has such a beautiful resonance and synergy.

Dennis wrote the lyrics, but as the man behind [the title track to 1974’s] “Man of Miracles” [which features lines like, “He was a man of miracles/Riding golden meteorites/Ruler of distant galaxies/Born of the Northern Lights”], I had suggested “Come Sail Away” become not a song just about a sailing ship, but that it should morph into a song about a starship, which was my idea. “Come Sail Away” was also lifted by the release of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the same year, so ’77 was the year for outer space.

We have the good fortune of The Grand Illusion continuing to be a resonant topic, and The Missionresonates with The Grand Illusion in a variety of ways. The theme of Tommy Shaw’s “Man in the Wilderness” intersects with “Radio Silence” — an individual against the forces of nature, wherever you happen to be. And there’s no greater wilderness than the absolute zero-temperature environment of outer space! (laughs)

Tommy Shaw (guitarist/vocalist): It’s 7/7 again — the date that changed everything! We made a record that sounds really good, and we worked really hard at trying to get it right. It wasn’t always romantic and sometimes we lost sleep over it, but what matters is how it turned out. It’s the creative process.

I run into people almost daily who tell me that “Man in the Wilderness” and “Fooling Yourself” are the songs that helped them get through high school. I like hearing that. And now, to look out in the crowd when we’re playing “Man in the Wilderness” and see people singing along who weren’t even born yet when it came out — that’s very satisfying.

Chuck Panozzo (co-founding bassist): The Grand Illusion was the right album at the right time. Why is it our best-selling album? It has the best songs. And it was a true collaboration.

Lawrence Gowan (keyboardist/vocalist): When we did The Grand Illusion-Pieces of Eight tour in 2010, we discovered what a cohesive composition that album is from beginning to end. Delving into the parts and playing the songs in the actual running order reignited my enthusiasm for that album as an album. I was a fan of it then, and I’m a fan of it now.

I should also mention that the album’s artwork has stood the test of time. It looks so engaging today. I love seeing that equestrian image mixed with the forest and the woman’s eyes whenever it gets projected onscreen behind us. It’s one of the great visual icons of rock history.

Ricky Phillips (bassist/vocalist): “Fooling Yourself” has always been my favorite composition by Styx. But being able to play “Castle Walls” is awesome too, because I come from a heavier place. I appreciate that it’s a great track — and it’s bass-heavy, on top of that.

The first time I heard [the song] “The Grand Illusion” was when I was with The Babys, when we were touring with Styx. It has that very clever, “Welcome back my friends/here we are tonight” vibe — it’s grand and pomp, with that bolero beat. So very cool.

Todd Sucherman (drummer): The Grand Illusion will always have a soft spot in my heart because it’s the first full Styx record I ever heard, or bought. My uncle Dennis happened to put that one on during one of our visits with him, shortly after that record came out.

My brother and I immediately went home and bought it, and we would play that record every day. It was the first record I ever bought from the band, and I continued to buy all of their records in succession after that. To me, that album was the genesis of me liking the band, really.




Celebrating the one-year anniversary of the release of Styx’s latest, and most vibrant, studio album, The Mission. 

by Mike Mettler

The planets truly aligned for The Mission, and I couldn’t be prouder. It’s our boldest, most emblematic album since Pieces of Eight.” —Tommy Shaw

Happy first birthday to The Mission! The facts about it are these: Styx’s 16th studio album, The Mission, was released exactly one year ago today on June 16, 2017 via Alpha Dog 2T/UMe on CD, 180-gram vinyl, and download via various digital services, and it’s since taken its rightful place in the pantheon of unquestionably great great great Styx albums.

In a comment made exclusively to Styxworld to mark this hallowed occasion, vocalist/guitarist/co-pilot Tommy Shaw observed, “Hard to believe it’s been a year! So proud of The Mission. Everyone shines on this album, and now, with the 5.1 surround version about to be released, there’ll be an opportunity for fans to take the trip all over again in the 5.1 environment. And I hope our fans find all the subtle things hidden in the album/CD/Blu-ray graphics too. Here’s a hint: Check the Martian landscape!”

Over the course of the first year of the album’s public life, Tommy has noted specifically on many an occasion in interviews, on social media, and from the live stage that the Styx family wants everyone to hear The Mission from start to finish by following their strongly suggested “no shuffling!” policy. In fact, you’ll likely hear Tommy say something to the effect of, “Take the whole trip uninterrupted!” before he introduces one of The Mission’s key tracks, “Radio Silence,” in Styx’s headlining set during this summer’s hottest tour with Tesla and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts — including tonight’s stop at the Verizon Ampitheatre in Alpharetta, Georgia.

As I noted in this space 12 months ago in my official capacity as the chief information officer of the Global Space Exploration Program, or GSEP for short, I wrote that the “sonically sweet” The Missionis Styx’s “most ambitious, most challenging, and most rewarding release to date” — and that’s not just hype, either. The album has that rarefied timeless quality to it that makes it feel as if you’ve known it forever, yet still feels like it’s brand-spanking new. I was able to experience Mission songs in various stages of progress — and always on headphones, to keep the sonics hush-hush — as they was being created behind closed doors over their 2-plus-year gestation period, and the ensuing end result is a career-defining work, to say the least.

To that end, The Mission is an aurally adventurous 43-minute thrill ride that chronicles the trials, tribulations, and ultimate triumphs of the first manned mission to Mars in the year 2033 onboard a spacecraft with the likely familiar name of Khedive. From the hopeful drive of “Gone Gone Gone” to the stargazing machinations of “Locomotive” to the rough-riding blaze of glory that permeates the hard-charging “Red Storm” to the elegiac optimism of the closing track “Mission to Mars,” The Mission succeeds in delivering the greater good from a band that continues to fire on all cylinders, now 46 years after signing their first recording contract. And you can quote me on that — all of it.

Here are a few more techie facts about the making of The Mission: It was recorded at Blackbird Studios, The Shop, and 6 Studio Amontillado in Nashville. The album’s storyline was written by Tommy Shaw and Will Evankovich. Will is also the album’s producer. Jim Scott (Foo Fighters, Tom Petty, Tedeschi Trucks Band) did the mixing at his own Plyrz Studio in Valencia, California, and Richard Dodd (Jason Aldean, Melissa Etheridge) handled the mastering in Nashville. Engineering was handled by Will, Alan Hertz, and Sean Badum. Additional engineering was done by JR Taylor, the assistant mixing engineer was Kevin Dean, and additional editing was done by Derek Sharp.

The liner notes were written by yours truly, Mike Mettler, and the in-studio photography was done by, of course, our man Jason Powell. Finally, the amazing album artwork and overall design was done by Todd Gallopo of Meat and Potatoes, Inc. — much of it before he even heard one note of the album’s music, which just goes to show just how in tune he was with the overall Mission concept.   

Will we get to see The Mission performed in full at some point in the not-so-distant future? Only time will tell, so stay tuned! In the meantime, here are just a few comments about the project from the men who made The Mission. Light it up, let’s get this show on the road. . .

Tommy Shaw (acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, and vocals): The planets truly aligned for The Mission, and I couldn’t be prouder. It’s our boldest, most emblematic album since Pieces of Eight.

James “JY” Young (electric guitar and vocals; the co-founding guitarist/vocalist sings lead on “Trouble at the Big Show”): In the 40th anniversary year of our release of our biggest-selling album of all time, The Grand Illusion, it just seemed truly appropriate to save our new studio album until that year. Needless to say, I’m very excited.

Lawrence Gowan (piano, B3 organ, synthesizers, and, vocals; the keyboard maestro sings lead on “Gone Gone Gone,” “The Outpost,” et al): The album feels simultaneously comfortable and new. It’s both entertaining and charming, and a natural progression of our sound.

Will Evankovich (producer and storyline co-author): The Mission is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be a part of something unique and special that’s happening in real time right in front of you. It is one of those albums that musically and cosmically showed you the next right thing to do every step of the way. I will forever be grateful and proud of what we did in this body of art.

Chuck Panozzo (bass guitar; the co-founding bassist lends his signature low-end sound to “Hundred Million Miles”): The Mission is a sincere and honest representation of how Styx built upon where we were in the 20th century in order to go somewhere new in the 21st century.

Todd Sucherman (drums, percussion, and Waterphone): There’s a lot of great ear candy on this album. It’s what you get when great ideas come together and everyone works on them as a team.

Ricky Phillips (bass guitar): The Mission was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m proud to be a part of it.




‘THE MISSION’

REISSUE IN 5.1 SURROUND SOUND AND INCLUDING EXCLUSIVE VIDEO CONTENT DUE OUT JULY 27 ON ALPHA DOG 2T/UMe; 

TOMMY SHAW AND THE CONTEMPORARY YOUTH ORCHESTRA

‘SING FOR THE DAY!’

DUE OUT JUNE 29 VIA EAGLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT

ON BLU-RAY, CD, AND DIGITAL FORMATS

AXS TV PRESENTS A SATURDAY STACK OF STYX ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING JUNE 30;

EIGHT HOUR MARATHON STARTS AT 1 P.M. ET 

June 6, 2018 -- STYX is giving their loyal fans a double whammy of new releases in June and July.

First up is the highly anticipated reissue of their critically acclaimed first new studio album in 14 years, THE MISSION, on July 27 via Alpha Dog 2T/UMe. The two-disc package will include a CD of the original album, as well as a Blu-ray of THE MISSION mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound by singer/guitarist TOMMY SHAW and producer Will Evankovich accompanied by stunning visualizations for each of the album’s 14 songs based on the album artwork. Other extras on the Blu-ray include: “The Making of The Mission Documentary” of exclusive interviews of SHAW and Evankovich, four music videos—“Gone Gone Gone” (official video), “Gone Gone Gone” (video created by NASA), “Radio Silence” (lyric video) and “Radio Silence” (live video from Syracuse, NY)—and three hi-res audio playback modes. Pre-orders are available now here.

PRE-ORDER NOW

"THE MISSION, a concept album of all new music, is a trip,” declares TOMMY SHAW. “Now it’s coming to you in 5.1 Surround and you’re cordially invited to strap yourselves in and take that trip with us, then take it again!”

THE MISSION was released June 16, 2017 and debuted on various Billboard charts, including: #6 Top Rock Albums, #11 Physical Albums, #11 Vinyl Albums, #13 Current Albums, #14 Top Albums, #16 Retail, #17 Mass Merch/Non-Traditional, #29 Digital Albums, and #45 Top 200 Albums (includes catalog and streaming).

“The planets truly aligned for THE MISSION, and I couldn’t be prouder,” said vocalist/guitarist TOMMY SHAW upon its release, who co-wrote the album’s storyline with longtime collaborator Will Evankovich (Shaw/Blades, The Guess Who). “It’s our boldest, most emblematic album since PIECES OF EIGHT.” As founding guitarist JAMES “JY” YOUNG continued, “In the 40th anniversary year of our release of our biggest selling album of all time, GRAND ILLUSION, it just seemed truly appropriate to save our new studio album until this year. Needless to say, I’m very excited.” 

5160 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 320 • Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 • Phone 818 990 6876 • Amanda@abc-pr.com

Next, SING FOR THE DAY!, TOMMY SHAW’s solo 2016 concert performance with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra will be released on Blu-ray, CD, and Digital Audio / Video on June 29 via Eagle Rock Entertainment. Pre-orders are now available on Eagle Rock’s website.

PRE-ORDER NOW

Filmed before an enthusiastic audience at the intimate Waetjen Auditorium in Cleveland, SING FOR THE DAY! presented unique versions of such classics as “Blue Collar Man,” “Girls With Guns,” and “Too Much Time On My Hands.” Under the direction of principal conductor / founder Liza Grossman, with accompaniment by guitarist/musical director Will Evankovich, the Cleveland-based Contemporary Youth Orchestra blended seamlessly with Shaw to create a one-of-a-kind experience. The songs of STYX / TOMMY SHAW / Damn Yankees are infused with the energy of the finest high-school-aged musicians in Ohio, as evidenced by such performances as the epic duel between SHAW’s guitar licks and a prodigious young violinist / CYO alum Lavinia Pavlish on “Renegade.”

Additionally, the set includes a special version of the STYX classic “Crystal Ball” featuring the debut of a lost verse that was never recorded.

As TOMMY SHAW says, “SING FOR THE DAY!, a retrospective look at some of my favorite songs I’ve written and co-written, performed with  Contemporary Youth Orchestra, now remixed in glorious 5.1, takes them all to a higher place I’d never imagined."

This show also marked the 10-year anniversary of STYX’s original 2006 performance with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra -- One With Everything (previously released via Eagle Rock Entertainment on multiple formats). 

It was truly a night to remember, as SHAW notes: "It was so much bigger and more everlasting than any of us imagined it would be." 

In addition to the full 13-song set, the SING FOR THE DAY! Blu-ray includes 96K stereo audio of four songs with TOMMY SHAW and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra not included in the program -- “Down That Highway,” “The Great Divide,” “I’ll Be Coming Home,” and “The Night Goes On” -- soundtracking a slideshow of photos from the show, rehearsals, and behind-the-scenes. 

SING FOR THE DAY! Track Listing:

  1. Overture
  2. Girls With Guns
  3. Too Much Time On My Hands
  4. Fooling Yourself
  5. Diamond
  6. Crystal Ball
  7. Boat On The River
  8. Sing For The Day
  9. Renegade
  10. Man In The Wilderness
  11. Come Again
  12. High Enough
  13. Blue Collar Man

Blu-ray Bonus songs:

Down That Highway

The Great Divide

I’ll Be Coming Home

The Night Goes On

And, on June 30, AXS TV presents a “Saturday STYX” lineup headlined by insightful conversations and classic performances. The day begins at 1pE, as TOMMY SHAW, JAMES “JY” YOUNG, and LAWRENCE GOWAN sit down with Dan Rather to discuss their legendary career, the creative process behind some of their most enduring songs, and what drives them to keep performing in “The Big Interview.” Next, STYX joins The Red Rocker for an epic hangout session backstage at The Venetian in Las Vegas in “Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar” at 2pE. Then, the band sails into Sin City for an unforgettable career-spanning set in “STYX: Live At The Orleans Arena Las Vegas” at 2:30pE; followed by TOMMY SHAW’s incredible performance with Cleveland’s renowned Contemporary Youth Orchestra in Sing For The Day! at 3:30pE. The block will re-air in its entirety immediately following at 5pE.





Domo, domo: Inside the Styx’s decision to bring an iconic song from their catalog to life for the very first time.

text & photo by Mike Mettler

“This was the best opening night of a summer tour in years! —Tommy Shaw

Yes, the rumors are true: Styx played “Mr. Roboto” for the first time ever as a full band as the first encore song during opening night on their summer tour with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and Tesla at Five Point Ampitheatre in Irvine, California on May 30, 2018. At exactly 10:38 p.m. Pacific time, the song’s familiar, unique keyboard intro duly commenced, and “Mr. Roboto” officially entered the live history books.

First, some facts: “Mr. Roboto” was released as a single 35 years ago on February 11, 1983, and it reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The album it was the centerpiece of, Kilroy Was Here, was subsequently released on February 22, 1983. The song was only performed live in a solo fashion by Dennis DeYoung to a backing track on the ensuing Kilroy tour and it also appeared via snippets in the vaunted Styx Medley for years, but last night was the first full-band-performed version of it in a Styx set.

We’ll breakdown the band’s energetic and rejiggered summer tour set in future posts, but here in a Styxworld exclusive, your humble Styxologist spoke with guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw, keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan, co-founding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young, and co-founding bassist Chuck Panozzo both before and after the show to get their real-time reactions to bringing “Mr. Roboto” to life. Himitsu o shiritai. . .

Mike Mettler: How did it feel as you got “Mr. Roboto” ready to perform live?

Tommy Shaw: We’ve been pretty excited about it. For one thing, it was an idea whose time had come. I have a feeling the fans are going to be surprised by it, but we’ve been working on it for a while. We wanted to get it right.

Tonight is the first time Styx has ever played it. We never played it, back when the record first came out, because it was part of a stage production with a track playing behind it. But now, we were able to infuse the personalities of all of the bandmembers into this version. And it rocks so hard, because it’s this band playing “Mr. Roboto”!

It was a lot harder to learn than I thought it would be. It’s a very original, unusual, unique track. It’s not blues-based. It was a song that, when Dennis brought it to us, we had to go, “Well, what do we do with it?” We did what was right for the song — and then we had to learn it how many years later, 35? (laughs)

One thing I was thinking about it was, at the end of the night on a three-act bill, people want to try and beat traffic, but we wanted to give them something that might keep them there at the show. It started out as a practical thing, but once we started working on it, we realized, “This is a really good idea!”

It’s been fun to mix it up. No one’s going to be expecting it tonight, and I have a feeling the video posts will be starting later in the song, because the audience is not going to be prepared for it. I’m looking forward to seeing all the videos people post of it myself. It’s coming!

James “JY” Young: It’s long been a topic of discussion because so many people have been requesting it. The song originally left a bitter taste in our mouths because it led to the band breaking up following the Kilroy project [in 1984]. We had played some snippets of it in the Medley for a number of years, but then we went away from it. But I’ve heard people request it at a lot of corporate shows.

I was sitting at a table with Tommy and Libby Gray, our lighting director, and I mentioned I’d been hearing that “Roboto” request a lot. Libby said, “I hear that every night.” And our merch guy, Casey Compton, hears it multiple times a night too. Tommy said, “We know we need to play something new, so let’s make it a surprise. Let’s do ‘Roboto.’” My intention was to make sure we “muscled” it up some more. Tommy found a cover of it by another act online that let us know it could be more muscled up, so that’s what we did.

Chuck Panozzo: When Tommy first mentioned the idea of doing “Mr. Roboto,” I thought it was a great idea. I said, “Why don’t we own it? We know the song is great.” Now we’re all walking around going, “domo, domo.” (all laugh) And I knew Lawrence would do a great job with it.

Last night during rehearsal, I stood on the side of the stage and watched how they recreated it on the screen — the images, the robots, and the masks, and how that all was completely integrated into the song. Once I saw that, I thought, “The audience is going to go cuckoo for it!” (smiles) Adding that song in makes it an even more well-rounded set. There’s something for everyone. And the production value of all of it is pretty great too.

Lawrence Gowan: It’s an iconic song that has obviously withstood the rigorous test of time. It has become so much part of the vernacular of the culture that you feel it’s time the band from which it sprang forth into the world should address it.

I feel good that we waited this long to play that song, because it’s been so controversial in a lot of ways. It’s gone from being a song that people liked to a song that people derided as part of the early ’80s to becoming a kitschy guilty pleasure amongst certain people. And then there’s a certain generation that hasn’t been stamped or pre-conditioned or have a pre-conceived notion of what the band should be.

Did I ever think I’d get a chance to do it? I was fine to do it all along — I really was. I think the character in the song is larger than life. I hope the audience goes for it like we have. I’m finding it pretty visceral.

Mettler: What effects did you use to recreate the song’s original sound template?   

Gowan: Just a straightforward delay on the vocals so it sounds like someone who’s trapped. I love that there are all kinds of layers of metaphors that you can apply to it. And, let’s face it: It was a very prescient song, because it predicted a lot of what has ensued — so let’s play it now! (laughs)

For the keyboards, I decided because there are five parts running at once — and since I keep my shoes on for most of the show (both laugh) — that I’d take all the parts that were on the sequencer, all of those kinds of “robotic” things, and let the sequencer play those parts. Live, I’m playing all of the melodic sections, the Flukes, and the general melodic synths that track the vocal. And, of course, I love the pseudo Vox organ — the “ehh-ehh” sounds — and those three main parts, plus some of the horn-ish part in the middle. All of the whooshes and the melodic sequencer — I let the machines play those, because they’re locked and perfectly in time. I think the audience understands that that’s what they’re there for. And the Vocoder, which is a critical part of this thing, is another nice addition to it.

Mettler: How does it feel in this moment, now that you’ve just come offstage and finally played “Mr. Roboto” in front of a full audience?

Shaw: How does it feel? I’m kinda high from it! Yeah, I’m a little buzzed. (chuckles) Like I said, that’s the first time we ever played it, ever, since it was recorded. The band never played the song as a band, until now. We’ve been practicing it and learning it, but nothing prepares you for playing it in front of an audience like playing it in front of an audience, you know?

Gowan: Onstage, it’s a great song to perform. There’s a lot of vocal bravado in it. I quite enjoyed doing it, and there are a couple of reasons for that. One is, I think it’s a really well written song! Once you deconstruct a piece of music like that, you hear the inspiration that’s behind it, and you get into the mindset of what this piece is. It’s like why I like that opening to Genesis’ “Firth of Fifth” so much, and why I play it a lot. I liked learning where he [Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks] pulled those various influences from and how he coagulated it all into the tapestries that make up the piece.

All of the great bands of the ’70s had this massive transition, or at least had to make an attempt, to get over the hump and be a part of the ’80s. And that’s what “Mr. Roboto” is: We have arrived at this point in the early ’80s.

Shaw: I watched the audience reactions, and there were people who looked. . . (slight pause) stunned! (chuckles) And that look on people’s faces was something I could feel. And then we got lost in playing it, trying to do a good job of it. We’d been playing around with it in dressing rooms for months, but tonight is the best we’d done it. A lot of practicing is what got us here with it today.

And the thing about it was, once the main set was over, once we were done with “Come Sail Away,” we realized, it’s time: “Oh, we’re really going to do it now! We’re really going to do it!” And then a certain calmness came over us, and we felt ready to do it. So let’s go do it! It was out there, and it was pretty f---ing cool! And it will only get better from here. Know what? We’ll probably be playing it for a long time to come.




As the Co-founder of the Classic rock Band STYX, which is currently on an International Tour with their new album titled, The Mission, Chuck has devoted a generous amount of his time mentoring and supporting various youth groups. He is honored to be selected as the Grand Marshal of the 2018 Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade and Festival.




We had the chance to sit down with legendary journalist Dan Rather! Watch our talk on 'The Big Interview' on AXS TV, premiering April 17th!




By Michael Pierce - midwestrewind.com

In the mind of this writer, and fan, Styx is the premier American Progressive Rock band. Their most recent album, The Mission, is their first album of new material in over a decade. They’re coming to St. Louis on July 8, with special guests Tesla and Joan Jett.

The Mission is an absolutely brilliant concept album about a journey to Mars.

I recently had the privilege of speaking with Styx bassist Ricky Phillips. We talked about the new record, the band, and a couple of other things.

Me – I’ve got to tell you, I’ve listened to this record many times, and, sonically, lyrically, musically, you guys have still got it.

Ricky – Well, thank you Michael. That’s nice of you to say. Yeah, this kind of came out of left field. Tommy had the idea, ran it by us, and it sounded kind of corny at first, to do a concept record in this day and age. But, you know the reality of the situation is, in our lifetime, we’re going to experience space travel to the planet Mars, and so, instead of it being some sort of a sci-fi fantasy, it’s going to be a reality. Tommy actually developed a relationship with NASA, which is kind of cool, because a lot of them come to our shows. He wanted to get the facts right, even though we’re not getting detailed, he wanted to make sure that the song lyrics were actually factual. So, it’s pretty cool. It’s a lot of fun to play the music. It’s a fun ride, and it’s definitely a Styx record. It’s got all those little earmarks, the lush harmonies and instrumentals. Signature changes, but not enough to make you feel like you’re in a music theory class. A lot of melody, and it tells a story. It’s kind of a fun story. It’s really not a story so much about space travel as it is about the people who are involved in these missions. And that’s where most good stories begin and end. It’s done very well. The week before last we were #64 on the Billboard chart, and it was just such a pleasant thing to have this be a success and people receive it so well. It’s very cool.

Me – I’m glad you brought up about The Mission not so much being about a trip to Mars, but about the people. Styx is known for some great classic love songs, but also for songs about people, and that brings me around to “The Greater Good,” my absolute favorite song on this album. Lyrics like ‘chance to be a man’ and ‘you can do this, c’mon’. It’s about struggles, but, you can do this…

Ricky – Yeah. If you go back to a song like “Fooling Yourself” it’s got a spirit of ‘come on, get over yourself, let’s get on with this.’ It’s a positive attitude. It’s looking at the world in a positive light. Whatever your situation is, you’re going to get much more out of your investment if you tackle it and go after it with a positive nature. Otherwise, you’re just on a downer. So, I think what you’re saying is a point well made, that The Mission is a continuation of that positive approach to life itself, and the challenges that you meet along your way.

Read more of this interview at midwestrewind.com




Atlanta Pet Life magazine is proud to announce that Tommy Shaw will be featured on the Spring, 2018 issue, along with his dog, Peanut. Tommy's dedication to the pet community nationwide though his organization, Rock to the Rescue, was the driving force behind this decision.


"Rock To The Rescue has been working with animal shelters all across the country since it was founded in 2001, when REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin and I decided to start a 501 C3 to raise money and awareness for grass roots organizations in cities where our respective groups performed. We are touring together this year and the fund raising continues! And now, what a treat to be featured on the cover of Atlanta Pet Life! If it helps raise awareness for finding forever homes for pets ready for adoption, it is indeed an honor! I hope you enjoy a peek inside our home with our Papillon 'Peanut' and our Munchkin cat 'Harold.'"
~TS
More info: www.atlantapetlife.com

We hope you'll support Rock to the Rescue ANDRock For Rescues on Saturday, April 28th, from 12pm - 6pm in Milton, GA!
(Note that neither Tommy nor Styx will be appearing at the Rock For Rescues event...)




By: Brent Thompson - BirminghamStages.net

“Right down the barrel! The double barrel – the double-decade barrel,” Lawrence Gowan says with a laugh when I mention that he is approaching his 20th anniversary as a member of the legendary band Styx. Already a bonafide solo artist in his own right when he joined the group, the keyboardist/vocalist replaced Dennis DeYoung in 1999. Known for radio staple hits including “Babe,” “Come Sail Away,” “Lady,” “Renegade” and “Too Much Time On My Hands,” Styx continues to fill the Classic Rock airwaves. In 2017, the band released The Mission, a concept album a futuristic mission to Mars and the group’s 16th studio recording. On Sunday, April 8, Styx will perform at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater with REO Speedwagon and special guest Don Felder. Recently, I spoke with Gowan by phone from a Styx tour stop in South Dakota.

Birmingham Stages: Lawrence, thanks for your time. How’s the tour going so far?

Lawrence Gowan: Amazing. The first two nights have been arenas jammed to the ceilings. We roll out all of the big stuff on this run – all the Styx stuff, the REO stuff and the cherry on top is the opener, Don Felder. It’s rare that you have an opener that gets a standing ovation every night, but that’s well-deserved because he’s in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and he was involved in the writing of “Hotel California,” a song quite a few people are familiar with.

Birmingham Stages: Is there a way to sum up your 20-year tenure in Styx?

LG: I cannot escape that fact that there’s a lot of gratitude on my side and I think for the band as well. We were the right fit for the right eras of our careers. The weird thing is I feel like I’ve been in the band all along. I know that I came in very late in the game so to speak for a band that’s approaching five decades of existence, but we were instantly simpatico about our musical drives and that’s really remained true until this day. I think putting together The Mission, the new album, and releasing it last year  – that really solidified my sense of belonging in the band. That’s something that you have to earn over time for a band that’s been around as long as Styx has. There’s only been 10 members of this band and that’s an incredibly low number for a band that’s existed this many decades.

Birmingham Stages: I think, like the Stones’ Ron Wood, it’s funny you are still thought of as the “new guy” after all these years.

LG: I think I’ll always be the “new guy” and I don’t mind anything that refers to “new” at this point in my life [laughs].

Birmingham Stages: Were the songs on The Mission created during a quick, inspired period or did it take time for the material to evolve?

LG: I would say, relatively speaking to the time I’ve been in the band, the material came together quite quickly. It began with the last song on the album, “Mission To Mars.” Tommy wrote it two and a half years ago. It started to kind of outline the basis of the story about a NASA mission. I came in and began to become part of the writing team of the record and we were invited to to NASA to see the arrival of the spacecraft New Horizons. They told us they’d named this new moon they’d discovered “Styx.” The story does revolve around man’s endeavor to make it to Mars, but I think it would be remiss to let the Styx story slip by – it really focused the end of the album. So, there was about a year of writing and about nine months of recording in order to pull it all together.

Read more of this interview at BriminghamStages.net




In Milton, GA on April 28th, from 12-6pm, Rock for Rescues will be combining a love of music and animals into a showcase of Atlanta's local music community. Come check the scene... meet some sweet fur babies... and hear some great music!

 

More info:  https://www.rockforrescues.org/about




By Clint Switzer - Music Mania

Two undisputed champions of 70's arena rock joined forces on Saturday night in bombastic celebration inside Springfield's near-capacity JQH Arena. The show was part of a min-tour before each band goes their separate ways for  respective summer ventures and even though these two rock heavyweights have shared stages many times in the past, this felt like a special occasion as the receptive crowd sang along with each and every song with nostalgic furor. 

The evening began with a 35-minute set from Illinois' own Head East, a band that gained fame in 1975 with the unforgettable rock single "Never Been Any Reason," a song that has been featured in hit films like "Dazed and Confused" and is often cited as one of the decade's most important tracks. The set was short and the sound was a bit low but vocalist Darren Walker' high-energy voice stood out as the band seamlessly rolled through songs like "Raise a Little Hell," "Elijah," and "Since You've Been Gone." The final song of the evening was, in fact, the band's mega-hit which properly revved the crowd to a frenzy in anticipation of what was to come.

Picture

Styx took the stage promptly at 8:00 P.M. with a rendition of "Gone Gone Gone," a song from the band's latest album "The Mission." By the time they broke in to "Blue Collar Man," the insatiable crowd was on its feet and cheering every pulsating moment. Styx's sound was precise and thick throughout the evening and a perfect blend of old classics and new tunes peppered the 14-song set. Guitarist/vocalist Tommy  Shaw's unabashed rockstar voice and presence has long been the backbone of the band and his skills were on full display. 

While Shaw perfectly handled songs like "Blue Collar Man," "Renegade," and "Too Much time on My Hands," it would be keyboardist/singer Lawrence Gowan that truly left his stamp on this performance with unforgettable and spectacular versions of "Lady," and "The Grand Illusion." Gowan has now been a part of Styx for 20 years and his inclusion, undoubtedly, helps keep the band at the top of their game. 

Read more of this review at MusicManiaPodcast.com!




Tommy Shaw’s heartfelt solo bluegrass album was released 7 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 7 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.

And, as some of you may recall, Tommy played a pair of tracks from the album — namely, “The Great Divide” and “I’ll Be Coming Home” — during the solo show he performed alongside Will Evankovich, conductor extraordinaire Liza Grossman, and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra at Waetjen Auditorium at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio on May 27, 2016. That concert, known as Sing for the Day, has since aired multiple times on AXS TV (and it may be headed for a home-video release sometime in the hopefully not-so-distant future).

You may also have also seen footage of Tommy and Will pickin’ and grinnin’ on “I’ll Be Coming Home” at the Grand Old Opry on March 26, 2011 during the week of the album’s release, and/or heard him improvise a few Great Divide-culled lines, lyrics, and/or licks while strumming one of his acoustic guitars before diving into certain signature Styx songs of his onstage every now and again.

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: As I look back, this album is up there on the short list with of the most fulfilling projects I’ve done — so far.

It is very reminiscent of the way The Mission [Styx’s triumphant 2017 studio album] came to be. It came from out of the blue, and just kept coming. And it was done in secret, because it’s always perilous to subject new ideas to the possibility of rejection before they’re fully thought out and fleshed out.\

I hadn’t played it for anyone until one night when my wife Jeanne had a bunch of her favorite girlfriends — all in either the music or film/television industry — over for a get together in the house while [co-producer] Brad Davis and I were across the patio in the studio.

By that time, we were getting close to having all the songs written and properly demo’d. I decided to ask if they’d like to hear what we had. We were nervous, of course, because it wasn’t the kind of music they were accustomed to hearing from me.

But they kinda flipped out, because it was for real — and the songs were good.

A few minutes later, Jeanne came back over to me and said, “You need a song like John Prine’s ‘Jesus the Missing Years.’” [“Jesus” is the last track on Prine’s quite fine 1991 alt-folk album, The Missing Years.]

I’d just read David McCullough’s Truman [the critically acclaimed 1992 biography of Harry Truman], so when Jeanne went back to the house, I immediately wrote a few verses, and called her back. That was “Give ’Em Hell Harry,” which we then cut a few versions of until I got the one Brad and I liked.

When you get in the zone, things just flow. It’s the getting there part that’s so unpredictable. I never thought of TGD as a something that would become a blockbuster LP — just something I felt compelled to express.

And, as it turns out, The Great Divide ended up being my mother’s all-time 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.

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




Post and Photos By Mary Andrews - AXS.com

The legendary progressive-rock band, Styx, is on tour again this spring. The band is well known for their four consecutive certified multi-platinum albums starting in 1977 with The Grand Illusion. The band has changed members over the years, but Tommy Shaw, James “J.Y.” Young, and Chuck Panozzo are considered the core musicians. Drummer Todd Sucherman, keyboardist Lawrence Gowan and bassist Ricky Phillips have been with the band for 15 years or more. AXS was able to attend their sold-out show in Phoenix’s Celebrity Theatre on Feb. 22. Here are five reasons to catch this tour live.

1) Styx doesn't deviate from their original recordings
The band strives to give the fans exactly what they want. As Ricky Phillips mentioned in a recent interview, “We are big sticklers for staying on the original blueprint of how the songs were recorded. We don’t try to change them.” It was strictly an evening of Styx. There were no opening acts.  They performed “The Grand Illusion” early in the show that garnered a fist-pumping fan sing-a-long that continued for the rest of the show.

To see the other 4 reasons go to AXS.com!




Celebrating the resonance of Styx’s last full-length studio album prior to The Mission, which was released on February 18, 2003.

by Mike Mettler

Cyclorama, Styx’s last full-length studio album of all-original material prior to the June 2017 release of The Mission, was released 15 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 the late, great Loizzo for both the DVD-Audio and DualDisc formats, via the Silverline label) 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 evergreen 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 three 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 on September 14, 2003 at the Los Angeles County Fair, just three days after Tommy's birthday, 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.

[Styxologist aside: 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.”

And when I spoke with Ron Nevison about “Bad Company” on June 28, 2016, he added, “It was up against the wall. It was a really cold night. If you listen to the song as it’s fading, you can hear him sing, ‘And the cold wind blows…’ And it did! We only did one vocal take. We tried it. It was a house where we had rooms. For me, on a vocal, you don’t want coloration. You don’t want a room to color it. You don’t want the room’s reverb; you have your own, you know? You want as dry a place as possible — and you can’t get drier than outside. As long as, you know, there are no trucks running past, or anything. (laughs) But it was pretty quiet out in the country there.”

History lesson duly concluded! We now return to the continuation of Tommy’s Cyclorama narrative...] 

Tommy Shaw: 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, progressive middle section in there.

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

And right up until we began incorporating songs from The Mission into our set, we used 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.”]

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 British 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.




Legendary rockers STYX and JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS are teaming up with TESLA for a summer U.S. tour that kicks off May 30 in Irvine, CA at the FivePoint Amphitheatre.

Tickets for various cities of the tour, produced by Live Nation, will go on sale starting Friday, February 16 at 10am local time at Livenation.com. STYX and TESLA will be offering VIP packages via their own exclusive pre-sales beginning Wednesday, February 14 at 10am local time at StyxWorld.com and Teslatheband.com.  Fans can explore JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS VIP packages available at the time of ticket purchase and at VIPNation.com.

Check out this video to learn more about the STYX/JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS/TESLA tour: https://youtu.be/qelxkiMjhdk

 

DATE               CITY                            VENUE

 

* Wed 5/30       Irvine, CA                     FivePoint Amphitheatre

* Fri 6/1            Concord, CA                Concord Pavilion

* Sat 6/2          Sacramento, CA           Toyota Amphitheatre

Mon 6/4           Salt Lake City, UT        USANA Amphitheatre

** Tue 6/5        Denver, CO                  Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre

Thu 6/7           Oklahoma City, OK       Chesapeake Energy Arena

Sat 6/9             Houston, TX                 Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion Presented by Huntsman

Sun 6/10          Dallas, TX                    The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory

Tue 6/12          Nashville, TN                Ascend Amphitheater

Wed 6/13         Charlotte, NC               PNC Music Pavilion

Thu 6/14          Raleigh, NC                  Costal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek

** Sat 6/16       Atlanta, GA                  Verizon Amphitheatre

Sun 6/17          Tampa, FL                   MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre

Wed 6/27         Boston, MA                  Blue Hills Bank Pavilion

Thu 6/28          Syracuse, NY               Lakeview Amphitheater

Fri 6/29            Wantagh, NY               Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater

Sat 6/30           Hershey, PA                 GIANT Center

Tue 7/3            Montreal, QUE.            Place Bell at Laval

Wed 7/4           Toronto, ONT.              Budweiser Stage

Fri 7/6              Detroit, MI                    DTE Energy Music Theatre

Sat 7/7             Chicago, IL                  Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island

Sun 7/8            St. Louis, MO               Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

Tue 7/10          Kansas City, MO          Starlight Theatre

Wed 7/11         Indianapolis, IN                        Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center

* Fri 7/13          Bristow, VA                  Jiffy Lube Live

Sat 7/14           Pittsburgh, PA              KeyBank Pavilion

Sun 7/15          Holmdel, NJ                  PNC Bank Arts Center




Styx and Don Felder up the ante on fun during their second annual residency at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

text & photo by Mike Mettler

“To be able to go out there and have fun like that is such a gift.” —Tommy Shaw

Sequels can be dicey propositions. For every rare, picture-perfect Godfather Part II, the follow-up highway is littered with scores of failed attempts at recapturing the lightning in a bottle that made the original something unique and special in the first place. To borrow a line, many of those who tried for a second shot at gold messed around and got lost.

Which is why I’m more than happy to report that the two-gig opening weekend of Styx and Don Felder’s five-show Renegades in the Fast Lane 2 residency (a.k.a. RITFL2) that commenced on January 26 and 27, 2018 at the Venetian Theatre in Las Vegas is the best sequel-sequence you’ll see and hear anywhere this year, hands down.

As someone who bore witness to the entirety of January 2017’s inaugural Styx–Felder Venetian run, I instantly felt how the energy level in the room this past weekend had been ramped up a few extra notches by both performers and attendees alike. And, to a man, the seven (count ’em) musicians onstage responsible for bringing those waves of absolute joy to the ever increasingly raucous and appreciative (and bigger!) audiences felt it too. “This is the most fun I’ve had in the last 10 years,” enthused Don “Fingers” Felder backstage following Night 1. Concurred Styx guitarist/vocalist Tommy “Bleepin” Shaw with a satisfied grin, “As crazy as the world is these days, to be able to go out there and have fun like that is such a gift. Any day we get to do this and get the kind of response we do out there onstage is a good day.”

And now, after a few days off, Styx and Don Felder are collectively revving up to tackle the triple-threat of shows ahead at the Venetian, with the final trio of RITFL2 gigs set to commence tonight, January 31, and then wrap up over the weekend on February 2 and 3. There may only be a few tickets left — though when I last checked in at the Venetian box office, there weren’t that many! — so if you’re eager for action and hot for the game, head over to our TOUR page to find out if you’ve still got a shot at seeing how it all goes down in person.

A press conference was scheduled for noon on the 26th, the first show day. Before the Q&A segment got underway, the band played a brief 15-minute set consisting of “Gone Gone Gone,” “Too Much Time on My Hands,” and “Hotel California.” As he introduced “Too Much Time,” Tommy noted, “We dedicate this one to Jimmy Fallon and Paul Rudd. In a moment, you might see why.” Before turning the official proceedings over to the press about 15 minutes after that, manager Charlie Brusco quite rightly declared, “This is one band, and they operate as one band.” To properly face the press and the photographers on hand, all seven gentlemen in that singular RITFL2 band perched on black stools set down across the stage: namely, keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan, bassist/vocalist Ricky Phillips, drummer Todd Sucherman, co-founding bassist Chuck Panozzo, co-founding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young, and the aforementioned guitarist/vocalist Don Felder, and guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw.

For his part, Chuck marveled at being back in Sin City for Round 2: “Sometimes I have to pinch myself and go, ‘Is this really happening?’ It’s the culmination of over 40 years of touring. And nobody does a show like we do in Las Vegas.” When asked how this year’s residency would differ from last year’s, Tommy pointed out how a few already well-received songs from the band’s triumphant 2017-released new album The Mission had since been incorporated into the Vegas set (four of them overall, in fact). Ricky then added, “You think people don’t want to hear any of the new stuff — only the hits. But what we’ve been finding with The Mission is that we’re getting a huge response to the new songs we’re playing from it, with people actually singing along with the choruses. And that’s been a nice, positive feeling that follows through to the rest of the set.”

One thing that was clear early on during the two rehearsal days prior to that evening’s first show was how everyone involved already had a shared shorthand for most of the entries in the 19-song set that the five, six, and sometimes all seven bandmembers played on, as opposed to how they all worked on their own over the holidays the year before to get the set details together since they essentially had to start from scratch. “I could tell right away how comfortable everybody in Styx felt playing my tracks,” Don observed backstage after the first rehearsal about the six Eagles songs he fronted in the set. “And since we had all that down together,” nodded Tommy, picking up the thread, “we then began working on other things we all could be doing out there onstage, because Don lovesdoing that stuff. And so do we.”

A new wrinkle that came out of one organic “what if” scenario discussed on the first afternoon of rehearsal was — SPOILER ALERT! — the idea for both Don and Tommy to walk off the stage and down into the audience shortly after the start of their dueling guitar solos on “Hotel California,” and then play to each other across the aisles of the center orchestra section. Don would go first, walking down the steps positioned at stage left with his white double-neck guitar in tow, while Tommy would soon follow suit with his guitar in hand at stage right, each of them stopping about 10 or so rows up their respective aisle. Even with only a few people in the room at the time they first tested the idea out, it soon became apparent that the audience would be treating this special moment as if they were watching a tennis match — swiveling their heads from side to side depending on which guitarist would be playing the licks during any given moment, then pointing to the other one facing them across the way for their response. Each player would eventually head back up onstage from the same side they started down to meet in the middle and finish the duel front and center.

Other related logistics for this sequence would have to be worked out in short order, such as “Could we get a spotlight to follow each performer as they come offstage, then highlight both of them back-and-forth during their tag-team solo breaks?” and “Who’s going to run interference and block the pathway both down and back, once the audience realizes Don and Tommy are standing right in front of them?” Both men were bemused by the fact that, because the audience would be focused on Don coming down amongst them first, many of them wouldn’t even realize Tommy was doing the same thing on his side until Don pointed across the aisle at him for his turn at cutting heads. During the press conference event’s “Hotel California” gambit, I watched with some amusement of my own as Tommy stood right behind a photographer seated at the end of the first row on his side who was totally facing his lens towards Don before he realized the Styxman was even there — and by that point, Tommy had already made his way up the aisle.

Many concertgoers felt the “Hotel Walk ’N Jam” (as I’m calling it) was one of the main highlights of the show — yours truly included. Me, I swapped aisle sides from where I was watching the show on those first two nights so I could see each axeman do their thing right in front of me before I headed down to the front to see how it all ultimately played out centerstage.

The 110-minute RITFL2 set’s other highlights are quite voluminous, to say the least. The collective harmonies on “Seven Bridges Road” never cease to be spine-chilling —“How can five voices make it sound like ten people are singing?” wondered longtime Styx radio liaison Terry Gibson on more than one occasion. “Radio Silence” shows the raw power of The Mission material in action, while JY’s elegiac lead vocals on “Light Up” and Chuck’s signature bass break during “Fooling Yourself” keep the party rocking, to borrow a line from Don — not to mention the additional guitar muscle Monsieur Felder brings to “Miss America,” which culminates with Todd’s furiously intense drumming denouement — as well as Lawrence’s sly Phantom of the Opera references before the always uplifting “Come Sail Away.” By the time the sidestage cannons pop off to spew billowing streams of multicolored confetti across the stage and audience alike for the one-two punch of the “Rockin’ the Paradise” and “Renegade” encore, you really do feel that the night has gone by way, waaaaay too fast.

So. . . umm, is it too early to book the room for RITFL3? I suppose you can check out anytime you like, but the jig is up and the news is out: a third go-round of this residency is most definitely wanted, man. Let’s all ride it again together in 2019, shall we?




Today’s the day Paradise Theater made history when it was released 37 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 37 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 after a long battle with cancer on January, 16, 2016.)

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 co-founding 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 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 returned to the live set for the first time in a few years in early 2016 and was also a setlist favorite during the band's five-show run alongside Don Felder, Renegades in the Fast Lane, at the Venetian Theatre in Las Vegas between January 6-14, 2017. (Who knows — we may very well see and hear “Snowblind” again during the Renegades in the Fast Lane 2 residency, which starts up at the Venetian next week on January 26.)

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 now, you can read about it in the exciting multi-part series in our weekly Styxology column that ran for 12 consecutive installments between January and April 2016. Styxology is available to all Styx Lounge Fan Club members. Find out how you can join here — and keep alive the memories of Paradise.




Marrone also tells us his Styx-related secret for beating the Pittsburgh Steelers not once, but twice this season.

by Mike Mettler

When Doug Marrone, the head coach of the red-hot Jacksonville Jaguars, came backstage at Daily’s Place Ampitheatre in Jacksonville to visit with Styx right before their United We Rock set back on July 20, 2017, he already had the winning formula for how he was going to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2017 NFL campaign. And the Jags did it not once, but twice this season, including a thrilling 45-42 victory in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on January 14, 2018.

In a word: It was “Renegade” who had it made.

 

“I know that’s their fire-up-the-defense song,” Marrone told us around 9:15 p.m that evening, about 15 minutes or so before Styx went onstage. “So I’ve been having it played over the P.A. during our summer practice sessions to get our guys immune to it.”

 

Longtime Styx and Steelers fans know that “Renegade” is often pumped in over the P.A. at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh during the fourth quarter to inspire the Steel Curtain defense during crunch time. Eagle-eared viewers will have observed hearing the song being playing in the background right before a fourth-quarter kickoff during yesterday’s CBS broadcast of the aforementioned Jaguars-Steelers AFC Divisional Playoff game. Alas, it was all for naught, as the Steelers’ suffered their second loss to the Jaguars on home field this season. (They also lost to the Jags 30-9 back in Week 5 of the regular season, on October 8, 2017.)

Marrone, who grew up in The Bronx in New York in the late-’70s and early-’80s, has been a Styx fan pretty much all his life. “One of my first 45s growing up was ‘Come Sail Away,’ so for me, that got me locked into it,” he told us before heading out to his seats. “Everything from ‘Fooling Yourself’ to the autobiography that’s out now [i.e., Chuck Panozzo’s The Grand Illusion], that’s all been part of it for me.

“People don’t realize how many hits this band has,” Marrone continued. “People who don’t know them hear a song on the radio and will go, ‘Oh my God, I know that song!’ Styx are an awesome band, and I’m really fired up about them.”

On next Sunday, January 21, the Jaguars will be facing the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts for a chance to go to Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on February 4, and we have a feeling the spirit of Styx will be right there with them all. Oh, Mama. . .



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