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Styx (pronounced "sticks") is an American rock band that has been popular since the 1970s, with such hits as "Come Sail Away", "Babe", "Lady", "Suite Madame Blue", "Mr. Roboto", and "Renegade." Styx is the first band to have four consecutive albums certified multi-platinum by the RIAA.
The band originally formed in the Chicago, Illinois area in 1961 as "The Tradewinds". The band played local bars while attending Chicago State University. This early line-up included brothers Chuck Panozzo and John Panozzo on guitar and drums, respectively; and Dennis DeYoung on vocals and keyboards. Changing their name briefly to "TW4", Chuck switched to bass guitar and the band added guitarists/vocalists James "J.Y." Young and John Curulewski. 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".
The band's Wooden Nickel recordings, Styx (1972), Styx II (1973), The Serpent Is Rising (also 1973) 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 would be a medium 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 the top ten, and Styx II went gold soon after.
On the heels of its belated hit single, Styx signed with A&M Records and released Equinox (1975), which sold well and yielded minor hits in "Lorelei" and "Light Up". Following the move to A&M, Curulewski suddenly left the band just before they were to embark on a nationwide tour, and was replaced by singer, songwriter, and guitarist Tommy Shaw after a frantic search to find a last-minute replacement. The first album with Shaw, Crystal Ball (1976), was moderately successful and also includes Shaw's "Mademoiselle" and DeYoung's "This Old Man". Its follow-up, 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-penned "Come Sail Away," as well as a second radio hit, Shaw's "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)". 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-penned hit singles "Renegade," and "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)," 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" that he wrote for his wife's birthday (which hit number six in the United Kingdom, January 1980), as well as becoming their biggest international hit and first million-selling single. The album also included the DeYoung single "Why Me", and "Borrowed Time" which was co-written with Shaw, plus Shaw's "Boat on the River". 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.
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. 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 music itself has been outlawed, Dennis DeYoung portrayed Kilroy, an unjustly imprisoned rock star. Representing the "younger" rock generation, Tommy Shaw played Jonathan Chance, who fights for Kilroy's freedom. Part of the impetus for the Kilroy story, were the false accusations of backwards satanic messages leveled at the band in 1981. Sailing high on the Styx name, Kilroy went platinum in 1983, boasting two Top Ten hits, the synthesizer-based "Mr. Roboto" and power ballad "Don't Let It End." Straying away from the pop-rock vein, J.Y.'s "Heavy Metal Poisoning" takes the listener back to Styx's early funk-jazz style, taking a poke at religious critics. Its introduction included a backward message, the Latin phrase, "annuit coeptis novus ordo seclorum," from the Great Seal of the United States. It is translated to "God has favored our undertakings. A new order for the ages." Although time would prove cynical for the members of Styx following Kilroy, at the time Kilroy earned a nominee 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) On the Kilroy Was Here tour of 1983 for half of the Kilroy tracks, the band used the instrumental backing tracks for "Mr. Roboto" (with Dennis singing live whilst disguised as a roboto and Tommy Shaw as Jonathan Chance), "Heavy Metal Poisoning" (with J.Y. singing live and the Panozzo brothers acting as his henchmen on stage) and lastly, the wistful "Haven't We Been Here Before," featuring a rare live duet between DeYoung and Shaw. The songs that the group played live were Dennis' "Don't Let it End", with an extended ending, Tommy Shaw's bluntly naive "Cold War", featuring an extended guitar solo and two extra verses. "Don't Let It End Reprise" began as a soliloquy by Tommy Shaw and Dennis DeYoung, but ended with the full band on a positive rock and roll note. Despite this ambitious stage show, Kilroy brought tensions within the band to a breaking point. In 1984, the band debuted its first live album, Caught in the Act. Taken from both the Paradise Theatre and Kilroy Was Here tours, the project featured one studio track, "Music Time", which became a Top 40 hit. However, the band had already parted ways before the release of the album.
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, in particular, 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 "Lonely School", 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 airplay at radio 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 & the News. 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 Karate Kid II 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 collaborated with Jan Hammer and recorded his own solo album, City Slicker. In 1988, 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
In 1990, with Shaw achieving some success with Damn Yankees, Styx reformed with Glen Burtnik taking 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. Burtnik's songwriting also helped buoy Edge of the Century to gold album status, contributing to the hits "Love at First Sight" (#25 Billboard Pop Charts) and "Love Is the Ritual" (#80 Billboard Hot 100, #8 Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks). 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. before once again disbanding. Despite the success of the album with two Top 40 singles and gold album certification, A&M Records dropped the band after the company was purchased by PolyGram Records.In 1994, DeYoung recorded 10 on Broadway, an album of showtunes.
The band reunited in 1995 to re-record "Lady" for Styx Greatest Hits and a 1996 tour, but John Panozzo was unable to participate due to declining health caused by problems with alcohol, which killed him 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.
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 infuriated his bandmates, and the dramatic differences in styles were evident on Brave New World. Arguments over which songs to release as singles, the album's artwork, the track sequencing, 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. Chuck Panozzo left the band in 1998 after revealing to his bandmates that he was gay and battling HIV. His public explanation came in 2001 at the annual Human Rights Campaign banquet. Later that year, DeYoung was permanently replaced by 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 countersued by Shaw & JY for using the billing of "Dennis DeYoung, the voice of Styx" in his solo concerts. The suit was eventually settled on the grounds 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.
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. 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. 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.
As of April 21, 2006, according to the RIAA (Recording Industry
Association of America) 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, providing another conflicting
On April 16, 2007, Def Leppard announced a 2007 Tour|50-date, which includes Styx and Foreigner as supporting acts. As of August 27, 2007 Dennis DeYoung's single "100 Years From Now" was #1 on Quebec's Top 100. On October 16, 2007 Styx received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" from IEBA (International Entertainment Buyers Association) in Nashville, Tennessee.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Official Homepage: www.styxworld.com
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