By JOHN BENSON
Special to The Gazette
Nostalgia is a funny thing. Too much and you're easily bored. Too little
and, well, you become nostalgic for the good old days.
Remember when life was simpler? Before the Internet, your financial
portfolio or your kids dictated your life. Back when you had too much time
on your hands.
If you're looking to revisit time gone by, look no further than the Styx,
REO Speedwagon and Eddie Money show playing Blossom Music Center June 1.
Twenty years ago, you would be hard pressed to identify the headliner on
this bill as all three acts topped the rock charts with one hit after
another. Today survival is the key with package tours making the most sense.
As far as exposure is concerned, all three bands continue to thrive on
classic rock radio while Styx, in particular, is getting a different type of
attention. A recent car commercial used their hit "Mr. Roboto" but
their resurgence doesn't stop there.
"Adam Sandler is a big fan of our music and put three of our songs
in his last movie 'Big Daddy' and (even) mentioned (Styx member) Tommy Shaw
by name," said original Styx member James Young calling from his home
in Chicago. "So, his audiences are 10-15 years younger than him. The
same with those guys with South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) who have
used 'Come Sail Away' on their show and on their album as well; kind of a
twisted, demented form nonetheless and Isaac Hayes singing a Styx song. Who
thought that would ever happen?
"But the reality is those guys and others have sort of catapulted us back
into the mainstream with young people. So, our job is to show we still have
it when we go out there. And I'm hear to say we do," said Young.
It's fitting that Styx and REO Speedwagon will be sharing the stage since
there are many similarities between the bands, starting with a high school
battle of the bands some 30 years ago in the Windy City. While neither Styx
nor REO Speedwagon were formed yet, members from both outfits competed
against each other in different bands.
"The bands had sort of parallel lives," said Young. " They
(REO Speedwagon) were successful in the early part of the '70s. Then we sort
of catapulted past them with "Lady," then "Grand
Illusion" and then a run of platinum albums, the last of which
"Paradise Theatre" battled their "High-Infidelity" for
the number one spot on the Billboard charts in 1981. So, there's been a
friendly rivalry between the bands all these years but this is the first
time that these two bands will ever share the same concert stage in the same
Likewise, both bands experienced similar hardships. After years of
chart-topping success and sold-out arena tours, the fickle music industry
changed leaving those successful in the '70s on the outside in the late '80s
and early '90s.
Headliners found themselves without record labels and a dwindling fan
base. That is until CMC Records came along. With a plethora of big named
acts seemingly stuck in free agency, the record label signed bands such as
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jefferson Starship, Deep Purple, Peter Frampton, Night
Ranger, 38 Special, Pat Benatar, Eddie Money, Yes and Styx. The idea being
that collectively, these artists have sold albums in the hundreds of
millions and were in the consciousness of mainstream society for decades.
So, don't write them off just yet.
"They've taken a lot of people who there is still an audience for and
injected new life," explained Young. "Just like anything else, the more
consolidation that goes on within the record industry, there are lots of
talented people who get excluded and fall by the wayside. Anybody that's not
selling a million copies, they're out on their rear end.
"A company like CMC comes along and says, 'Hey, here's Lynyrd
Skynyrd and Styx (and) a number of bands who have a wonderful heritage.
There are still hundreds of thousands of people that still want to buy the
records these bands put out. ' We're grateful to them for signing us,"
Styx returned to the spotlight last year with the release of "Brave
New World." Past reunion tours have proved successful but this time out
the stakes are higher -- a larger venue and a bigger bill. Even though
original keyboardist/vocalist Dennis DeYoung is no longer with the band
(he's been replaced by Lawrence Gowan), fans will enjoy this trip down
"People expect to hear Tommy Shaw sing 'Blue Collar Man (Long
Nights),' 'Renegade,' 'Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man),' and 'Too
Much Time On My Hands'," said Young. "They expect to hear me sing
'Miss America' and 'Snowblind. ' They expect to hear somebody sing 'Come
Sail Away' and 'Lady;' (There will also) be a couple of tracks from our
'Brave New World' disc. So, with three acts, we're not going to be able to
do 2 ½ hours a piece.
"The older part of our audience would be asleep by the end. It's
going to be a whole lot of hits with a couple of new things thrown in and
something different than they would have seen on the 1996-97 tour. The
response from the crowd has been overwhelmingly positive. Many people came
up to us and said, 'This is the best Styx show we've ever seen and we've
seen a bunch of them.' People are going to love this show," said
Copyright 2000 The Medina Gazette
Constructed by Louee Tyree for
The Medina Gazette
Last Updated 05-31-00