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June 2, 2000  

Styx Survives Split
Styx

Despite a soap operatic history breakups and reconciliations, family deaths and side projects Styx continues to take a cue from its 1983 Top 10 hit "Don't Let It End." In fact, the band is currently on a six-week tour with fellow '70s AOR rockers REO Speedwagon.

The most recent upheaval is the departure of founding member singer-keyboardist Dennis DeYoung. Regardless of which side you talk to, DeYoung's exit wasn't exactly harmonious. He has alleged in interviews that he was unceremoniously dumped, and was even prevented from posting news of his leaving on the Styx Web site, though he's since started a page of his own (www.dennisdeyoung.com).

But current Styx member singer-guitarist James "JY" Young is more matter-of-fact. "Dennis was not physically up to being on the road last year, and we were required to tour last year from the record company after we released Brave New World," Young told Wall of Sound. "Dennis has not let any of us know in any definite way that he is ready, willing, and able to tour with the band. So no, he is not a member right now."

Replacing DeYoung is Canadian singer Lawrence Gowan. Singer-guitarist Tommy Shaw remains part of the act, as does drummer Todd Sucherman, who took over behind the kit after John Panozzo's death in 1996. Glen Burtnik, who filled in for Shaw in the early '90s and sang on Edge of the Century, is also back, but this time around is playing bass. Chuck Panozzo is only making limited appearances for personal reasons. The band's new Web site (www.styxworld.com) gives ample attention to the new recruits.

Though some fans might purchase tickets expecting DeYoung to be onstage with his bandmates, Young is confident his absence won't make much of a difference. "I'm sure a fan backlash will happen on some level, and the people who are truly informed will know that [Dennis] won't be there," he says. "But my wife went to see Journey without Steve Perry, and was astounded that people in the eighth row with her didn't know Steve Perry had been the singer of this band for years and that this new Steve [Augeri] wasn't the original singer.

"Thousands of people saw this lineup of Styx in 1999, and lots of them told us last year that they like this lineup the best of all. A lot of people still thought Lawrence was the original lead singer. It's like a Sammy Hagar for David Lee Roth kind of switch, one supremely talented singer for another."

Shaw, meanwhile, is expected to soon join his other band, Damn Yankees, along with Jack Blades, Ted Nugent, Damon Johnson, Kelly Keagy, and Michael Cartellone, to work on writing and recording its new album. Styx will tour sporadically throughout 2000, says Young, and then make plans for its next album.
 
Lisa Taylor

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