Coupon Clipper
 Dining Out

 E-The People
 Job Search

 Kids Stuff
 Movie Listings
 Real Estate
 TV Listings
 WebHead's Tips

Our History
Staff Directory


Styx picks up where it left off - 20 years ago

After Styx broke up in 1984, vocalist-guitarist James Young had hoped that the art-rock band would reform at some point.

Courier Times

Styx bass player Lawerence Gowan, left; lead guitar player James Young and singer/guitarist Tommy Shaw jam as they perform at Blockbuster Pavilion in Devore, Calif.
Throughout the existence of Styx, vocalist-guitarist James Young has been the band's lone constant. During the Chicago band's glory years, 1975 to 1980, Young provided balance for the baroque act. Vocalist-keyboardist Dennis DeYoung's power ballads were sugary sweet and Young's rockers were dark and aggressive. "Babe," "Lady" and "Come Sail Away," the former's compositions, became massive hits while the latter's bitter "Miss America" and raucous, "Snowblind," earned play on album-oriented rock stations.

After Styx broke up in 1984, Young had hoped that the art-rock band would reform at some point. "We had a great run," Young said while calling from Cleveland. "We had a lot of fun and a lot of success. After a few years I thought that maybe we should do it again."

At times, he was the only member of the group who hoped to recapture what it achieved during the late-'70s. Styx became one of the biggest prog-rock bands on the circuit during its heyday. The group established a large fan base thanks to its trendy pop, stadium rock and concept albums.

During the late-'80sYoung contacted vocalist-guitarist Tommy Shaw, who wrote such Styx fan favorites as "Renegade" and "Blue Collar Man" and proposed a reunion.

"Tommy was fine with it," Young said. "We called Dennis and he wasn't sure. He dragged his feet for awhile. Tommy got tired of waiting and so he joined Damn Yankees."

Shortly after Shaw made his commitment to the hard rock supergroup, which also included Ted Nugent and former Nightranger Jack Blades, DeYoung decided it was time to return to Styx. "We didn't have Tommy and we couldn't do anything about that," Young said. "He had an agreement with a madman, who is a bowhunter (Nugent). We weren't going to mess with that. Dennis and I decided to do something anyway."

Styx proceeded to record "Edge of the Century" in 1990. The disc yielded the top 10 hit "Show Me the Way." The following year the group asked Shaw once again if he would like to reconvene with his old bandmates.

"But the Seattle thing was happening," Young said. "Grunge was hot and Tommy wasn't sure there would be any kind of demand for a band like Styx."

The group decided to go an extended hiatus and ride out the grunge storm. While touring with Damn Yankees during the mid-'90s Shaw noticed that "Renegade" received the best reaction from fans during the band's set so he decided to return to the Styx fold. In 1996 the group started working on new material.

The act's drummer John Panozzo passed away as the band was regrouping. However, Shaw and remaining original members Young, DeYoung and Panozzo's twin brother, bassist Chuck, decided to tour in '96. "Every night that we go onstage we dedicated what we're doing to John," Young said. "We're doing what he would want us to do. We're doing what we have to do."

Styx began writing and recording a number of songs in 1997 for its latest album, the baroque "Brave New World," which is loosely based on Aldous Huxley's novel of the same name. DeYoung, who wrote and sang on five of the tracks, decided to take a leave of absence from the band after the death of his father in December of '97.

"Dennis was profoundly affected by his father's passing," Young said. "He became emotionally drained. He's not going to be out there with us."

Neither is Panozzo, who is taking a break from the band as well. "Chuck has been through a lot and he needs the time away from us," Young said. "We understand he and Dennis need a break."

Multi-instrumentalist Glen Burtnik, who filled in for Shaw in 1990, is playing bass for Styx, who perform Saturday at the Mercer County Waterfront Park in Trenton. The band, which also includes keyboardist Lawrence Gowan and drummer Todd Sucherman, is rendering each of DeYoung's hits on tour.

"We're doing everything," Young said. "Fans come out to see us expecting to hear our greatest hits and we refuse to disappoint. We're doing all of Dennis' songs, 'Rockin' The Paradise,' 'The Best of Times,' 'Lady.' You name it. We're doing some new songs and all of the hits. We love being out there watching the fans going crazy, singing along with us. It's a wonderful reaffirmation for us and our body of work. We're thrilled that the fans want us and we're not going to go away."

Styx appears Saturday at the Mercer County Waterfront Park, 1 Thunder Road, Trenton. REO Speedwagon and Survivor open. Tickets are $28.50. Show time is 7 p.m. 609-394-3300.

Thursday, September 21, 2000

Privacy Policy