Styx (pronounced ) is an American rock band. Their hit songs have included "Come Sail Away", "Lady", "Mr. Roboto", "Renegade", "Babe", "Blue Collar Man" and "The Best of Times". They have four consecutive albums certified multi-platinum by the RIAA.
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Twin brothers Chuck and John Panozzo first got together with their neighbour Dennis DeYoung in 1961 in the Roseland section of the south side of Chicago, eventually taking the band name "The Tradewinds". Chuck Panozzo left to attend seminary school for a year but returned to the group by 1964. By this time, the others had brought in guitarist Tom Nardini to teach Chuck the guitar. Chuck decided to rejoin the others as bassist. Brother John was the drummer, while Dennis had switched from accordion to organ and piano. In 1965, the name "Tradewinds" was changed to TW4 after another band called The Trade Winds broke through nationally. By 1966, the Panozzo brothers had joined DeYoung at Chicago State University and kept the group together doing gigs at high schools and frat parties while studying to be teachers. In 1969, they added a college buddy, John Curulewski, on guitar after Nardini departed. Guitarist James "J.Y." Young came aboard in 1970 making TW4 a quintet.
In 1972, the band members decided to choose a new name when they signed to Wooden Nickel Records; several suggestions were made and, says DeYoung, Styx was chosen because it was "the only one that none of us hated".
Wooden Nickel years
The band's Wooden Nickel recordings, Styx (1972), Styx II (1973), The Serpent Is Rising (1974) and Man of Miracles (1974), were a mixture of straight-ahead rock with some dramatic prog-rock flourishes and art-rock aspirations. The Serpent Is Rising would foreshadow later endeavors by the group?the so-called concept album is an idiom upon which Styx would rely heavily by the 1980s.
On the strength of these releases and constant playing in local clubs and schools, the band established a fan base in the Chicago area, but was unable to break into the mainstream until an earlier song, the power ballad "Lady" (from Styx II), began to earn some radio time, first on WLS in Chicago and then nationwide. In the spring of 1975, nearly two years after the album had been released, "Lady" hit #6 in the U.S., and Styx II went gold after.
Move to A&M and the coming of Tommy Shaw
On the heels of its belated hit single, Styx signed with A&M Records and released Equinox (1975), which sold well and yielded a minor hit in "Lorelei", #27 in the U.S. More importantly, it contained the rock anthem "Suite Madame Blue", which gained the band considerable recognition and airplay on FM radio in the relatively new Album Oriented Rock (AOR) format. Following the move to A&M, Curulewski suddenly left the band in December 1975 just as they were to embark on a nationwide tour. After a frantic last-minute search, the band brought on singer, songwriter, and guitarist Tommy Shaw as Curulewski's replacement.
The first album with Shaw, Crystal Ball (1976), was moderately successful and also includes Shaw's "Mademoiselle" (which was another minor hit, reaching #36) and DeYoung's "This Old Man".
The Grand Illusion (1977) became the group's breakthrough album, reaching Triple Platinum certification and spawning a top-ten hit and AOR radio staple in the DeYoung-written "Come Sail Away,", which reached #8 in 1978, as well as a second radio hit, Shaw's "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)", which reached #29 the same year.
Through the late 1970s, the band enjoyed its greatest success. The album Pieces of Eight (1978) found the group moving in a more straight-ahead pop-rock direction and spawned the Shaw-written hit singles "Renegade,", #16 in the U.S., and "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)," #21 in the U.S., plus a minor hit in the release "Sing for the Day" that stopped just short of the Top Forty at #41.
Cornerstone (1979) yielded the group's first number one hit, the DeYoung ballad "Babe" . By early 1980, "Babe" had become the band's biggest international hit and first million-selling single, reaching number six in the United Kingdom . The album also included the #26 DeYoung hit "Why Me", and "Borrowed Time" which was co-written with Shaw, plus Shaw's "Boat On The River". The popularity of the album helped win the band a People's Choice Award for Best New Song in 1980. Styx was nominated for the Twenty-Second Grammy Awards for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. Cornerstone's engineers Gary Loizzo and Rob Kingsland were nominated for a Grammy at the 22nd Grammy Awards for Best Engineered Recording.
Stardom in the 1980s
In January 1981, Styx released Paradise Theatre, a concept album that became their biggest hit, reaching number one on the Billboard pop albums chart and yielding five singles, including the top ten hits "The Best of Times" by DeYoung (#3) and "Too Much Time on My Hands" by Shaw (#9). Paradise Theater became the band's fourth consecutive Multi-Platinum album.
The band was accused by a California religious group and later the P.M.R.C of backmasking Satanic messages in their anti-cocaine anthem, "Snowblind." James Young has refuted this charge during his introduction for "Snowblind" when played live. Dennis DeYoung has refuted the accusation as well, joking on the In the Studio with Redbeard program "we had enough trouble to make the music sound right forward."
Throughout the 1980s, the band would use the album's opening track, "Rockin' the Paradise" (charted at #8 on Top Rock Tracks Chart) to open their shows.
Kilroy was Here and breakup
On the successes of the ballad "Babe" and the Paradise Theatre album, Styx founder DeYoung began pushing for a more theatrical direction, while Shaw and Young favored a harder-edged approach. (This arguing over musical direction had even led to a bit of tension in 1979 after "Pieces of Eight", when DeYoung briefly left the band. But things were quickly smoothed over and cooler heads prevailed, leading to his quick return.)
The band followed DeYoung's lead with their next project, Kilroy Was Here (1983), another, more fully-realized concept album, embracing the rock opera form. Set in a future where performing and playing recorded rock music has been outlawed due to the efforts of a charismatic evangelist, Kilroy featured Dennis DeYoung in the part of Kilroy, an unjustly imprisoned rock star. Tommy Shaw played the part of Jonathan Chance, a younger rocker who fights for Kilroy's freedom and the lifting of the ban on rock music. This future society is served by robots. Called Robotos, these automatons perform many jobs, not the least of which are as Kilroy's prison guards.
Part of the impetus for the Kilroy story was the band's reaction to accusations of including backwards satanic messages embedded in their prior releases. The album included James Young's song "Heavy Metal Poisoning", which includes lyrics sarcastically mocking the allegations against the group. Its introduction intentionally included a backward message, the Latin phrases, "annuit coeptis" and "novus ordo seclorum," from the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States. Referring to the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776, these are translated, "Annuit c?ptis - He (God) favors our undertakings, and Novus ordo seclorum - A new order of the ages." . Both choices also served the Kilroy story as well, as the villain is an evangelist that seeks to expand his vision of morality movement through mass demonstrations.
Kilroy went Platinum in 1983, boasting two Top Ten hits, the synthesizer-based "Mr. Roboto" (#3 U.S.) and power ballad "Don't Let It End. (#6 U.S.)" The album earned a nomination as Best Engineered Recording for engineer and long-time friend Gary Loizzo, and fellow engineers on the album Will Rascati and Rob Kingslad, for the Twenty-Sixth Grammy Awards (1983)
In 1983, the band mounted an ambitious stage show in support of Kilroy featuring theatrical presentations of several songs utilizing instrumental backing tracks, including "Mr. Roboto", which featured DeYoung singing live while disguised as a Roboto, and "Heavy Metal Poisoning" with James Young as the evangelist Dr. Righteous singing while the Panozzo brothers acted as his henchmen on stage. The elaborate show was expensive to produce and was not as profitable as previous tours.
Kilroy brought the creative and competitive tensions within the band beyond the breaking point. Tommy Shaw departed the band for a solo career at the conclusion of the Kilroy tour. In 1984, the band released its first live album, Caught in the Act. The project featured one studio track, "Music Time", which became a Top 40 hit. The concert was also filmed and released on VHS under the same title (and on DVD in 2007). However, by the time of the album's release, the band had already parted ways.
Dennis DeYoung and Tommy Shaw released a string of solo albums, beginning with DeYoung's Desert Moon and Shaw's Girls with Guns in 1984. Both Shaw and DeYoung generated a moderate amount of interest with their first solo albums. DeYoung scored a Top 10 hit with the title track, "Desert Moon", which was also heavily featured on MTV. Shaw also cracked the Top Forty with "Girls with Guns" and he made a cameo appearance on the NBC television series Miami Vice. DeYoung's follow up single "Don't Wait for Heroes" also featured a video that was heavily featured on MTV, but it failed to generate significant radio airplay, only peaking at #83. During the filming of the video, DeYoung injured his back, causing him to back out of opening a North American concert tour for Huey Lewis and the News. Shaw, however, did tour in the fall of 1984 as an opening act for The Kinks.
Shaw's 1985 album What If and DeYoung's 1986 album Back to the World also charted, along with singles from film soundtracks. Shaw's "What If (Remo's Theme)" from Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins entered the Billboard Hot 100, while DeYoung's "This is the Time" from The Karate Kid, Part II soundtrack was featured for a short while on MTV. The first single from DeYoung's Back to the World, "Call Me", peaked at number six on the Adult Contemporary chart and was a modest pop hit, peaking at #44 on the Billboard Hot 100.
However, by the late 1980s, both Styx members' solo careers gradually simmered down to a modest but loyal fan base. Neither DeYoung's Boomchild nor Shaw's Ambition achieved nearly the same levels of earlier albums, although Shaw's cover of Jim Peterik's "Ever Since the World Began" charted briefly. Shaw also recorded sessions with Peterik's group, Survivor, on 1986's When Seconds Count.
Meanwhile, James Young recorded his own solo albums: City Slicker (with Jan Hammer) and Out On a Day Pass, both attracting only minimal attention.
In 1989, Tommy Shaw formed Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent, Jack Blades and Michael Cartellone. Meanwhile, the remaining members of Styx made plans for a comeback in the new decade.
Edge of the Century
In 1989, with Shaw achieving some success with Damn Yankees Styx reformed, bringing in Glen Burtnik (in 1990) to take Shaw's vacated position.
The new line-up released one album, Edge of the Century, featuring the Dennis DeYoung ballad "Show Me the Way", which received an additional boost just prior to the first Persian Gulf War. Some radio stations edited the Top Three smash to include the voices of children whose parents were deployed in Saudi Arabia between 1990 and 1991. This contributed to the song's longevity at Adult Contemporary radio, where the song also peaked at #3 and notably remained in the top 40 for an impressive thirty-one weeks. With the huge success of Show Me The Way, Styx joined a handful of musical acts to have top 10 singles in 3 different decades and under 4 different presidential administrations.
Burtnik's songwriting also helped buoy Edge of the Century, contributing to the hits "Love at First Sight" (#25 Billboard Hot 100 Charts, #13 Adult Contemporary) and "Love Is the Ritual" (#80 Billboard Hot 100, #9 Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks), as well as album tracks "All In a Day's Work", "World Tonight" and the title track. On the strength of the singles, particularly "Show Me the Way", Edge of the Century peaked at number sixty-three on the Billboard album chart and was certified Gold.
Styx toured across the U.S. in the spring and summer of 1991, but despite the success of the album, a top 3 single and a top 25 single, the band was dropped after A&M Records was purchased by PolyGram Records. A set of demos internally titled "Son Of Edge" were completed and shopped to other record labels. But with Grunge music now dominating the rock press, video channels and airwaves, and with singles being phased out, there was little interest from major record companies and Styx disbanded once again by 1992. Portions of the "Son of Edge" demos have resurfaced in various forms over the years in Styx, DeYoung, and Burtnik anthologies.
In 1994, DeYoung recorded 10 on Broadway, an album of showtunes. A single "On the Street Where You Live" received limited airplay.
The band reunited once again in 1995, with Tommy Shaw returning to the fold, to re-record "Lady" for Styx Greatest Hits. A tour was mounted in 1996, but John Panozzo was unable to participate in the tour due to declining health caused by problems with alcohol, which claimed his life soon after.
The band continued with Todd Sucherman replacing Panozzo. The 1996 "Return to Paradise" tour was also a success. They documented the reunion tour with a two-disc live set, 1997's Return to Paradise, which featured three new studio tracks: "On My Way", "Paradise" (a soft rock hit that also appears in another version on Dennis DeYoung's Hunchback of Notre Dame album) and "Dear John", a tribute to the late Styx drummer John Panozzo that has become a cult favorite among Styx fans. Return to Paradise was a surprise hit in 1997, achieving gold status, with the single "Paradise" peaking at number twenty-seven on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Return to Paradise was the first gold album for Styx's new record company, CMC.
Brave New World and split
Two years later, in 1999, the band released its first new studio album in almost a decade: Brave New World. The album received a lukewarm reception, sold very slowly, and the single, "Everything Is Cool", failed to chart.
Once again, during work on the album, personality conflicts drove the band members apart. While Tommy Shaw and James Young's material followed a hard rock vein, Dennis DeYoung's penchant for Broadway styles resulted in dramatic differences in styles on Brave New World.
Arguments over which songs to release as singles, the album's artwork, the track sequencing, the slow album sales, and the omission of DeYoung's vocals and keyboards from many of the Shaw/JY tracks fueled the fire. The band was further hindered by a viral illness contracted by DeYoung which temporarily made his eyes sensitive to light. DeYoung asked his bandmates to delay touring but they refused and decided to go forward without him..
Chuck Panozzo was sidelined in 1998 after revealing to his bandmates that he was gay and battling HIV. His public "coming out" occurred in 2001 at the annual Human Rights Campaign banquet.
In 1999, DeYoung was permanently replaced by Canadian Lawrence Gowan, though no official statement regarding a firing or replacement had been made. As a result of the replacement, DeYoung filed a lawsuit charging that the remaining members of the band were using the Styx name without his consent, and he in turn was eventually countersued by Shaw & JY for using the billing of "Dennis DeYoung, the voice of Styx" in his solo concerts. The suit was eventually settled with the agreement that DeYoung could bill himself as "performing the music of Styx" or "formerly of Styx", but not as "the voice of Styx", and Styx continued on with Shaw & JY at the helm.
Cyclorama and beyond
With Chuck Panozzo focusing on his health concerns, Glen Burtnik returned to fill Chuck's bass duties, with Chuck participating on a part-time basis, sitting in as his health permitted.
Styx's new lineup released several live albums and released the studio album Cyclorama in February, 2003, which reached #127 on the Billboard 200 album charts failing to make much, if any, of an impact. Styx toured extensively during this period and released additional live albums.
Burtnik left Styx in 2003 and recorded a solo album, Welcome to Hollywood. He was replaced by Ricky Phillips, formerly of The Babys and Bad English.
On June 5th, 2004, Styx participated in Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival covering songs by Jimi Hendrix,B.B. King,and Slim Harpo with Jeff Baxter as a special guest
DeYoung continued his solo career by re-arranging and performing his Styx hits with a symphony orchestra. In 2005, DeYoung released a CD of re-recorded Styx hits from a solo concert with a symphony orchestra (titled The Music of Styx - Live with Symphony Orchestra). The album also contained three new DeYoung songs. DeYoung's CD became a modest hit in Canada, selling 30,000 copies there. Burtnik now often appears with DeYoung in his solo shows.
As of April 21, 2006, according to the RIAA which awards artists and groups gold/platinum status, Styx ranks number 127 with 17.5 million records sold within the United States. The blurb on Amazon.com about Chuck Panozzo's book "The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies, and My Life with Styx" states that Styx has sold over 54 million records.
On April 16, 2007, Def Leppard announced a 50-date 2007 tour, which included Styx and Foreigner as supporting acts.
On October 16, 2007 Styx received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" from IEBA (International Entertainment Buyers Association) in Nashville, Tennessee.
As of 2009, Styx was on tour with REO Speedwagon and 38 Special. Styx and REO Speedwagon teamed up to record a single entitled "Can't Stop Rockin," released April 23, 2009.
In the opening sequences of the April 2, 2009, episode of the CW television show, "Supernatural," Sam and Dean, posing as FBI agents, introduced themselves as "agents DeYoung and Shaw," an apparent homage to the two Styx members.
Main article: List of Styx band members
James "J.Y." Young ? vocals, guitar, keyboards (1972?present)
Tommy Shaw ? guitars, vocals, mandolin, autoharp, talkbox (1976?1983, 1995?present)
Ricky Phillips ? bass, backing vocals (2003?present)
Todd Sucherman ? drums, percussion, backing vocals (1995?present)
Lawrence Gowan ? keyboards, backing vocals, guitar (1999?present)