The Internet Edition: May 31, 2000
Published in Medina, Ohio


Styx, REO and Money bring nostalgia to Blossom

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 evening."

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," Young said.

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 memory lane.

"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 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 Young.

Copyright 2000 The Medina Gazette


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Last Updated 05-31-00