I first saw STYX in 1978 at the old Charlotte Coliseum (Now Bojangles Arena).
I was mesmerized by the slick vocal harmonies and light show, the guitar work of James “J.Y.” Young and Tommy Shaw, the twins, Chuck and John Panozzo on bass and drums respectively, and of course Dennis DeYoung. I have seen them many times since then (20 something times) through all their incarnations and I’m counting the days to see them again at this year’s Speed Street in uptown.
Everyone has a favorite band, one they like above all others and STYX is that band for me. Is it that they’re the greatest band ever, measured against the rock world? Not really. It’s all about the memories they evoke in me. Having seen them about 10 times prior to 1992, STYX was the first band that I took my son to see when he was 7 years old. He loved it and at 35 is still a fan today. When my daughter was 7 in 1996, STYX was her first concert as well and her 11-year-old brother was there again. For us, STYX is a family thing. When we see them, we’re reminded of a great family experience where we saw the show together and made the great memories that we will never forget.
To say that the band has gone through some changes is quite an understatement. The ongoing battle between the guitar rock of Tommy Shaw and the pop/love songs of Dennis DeYoung eventually broke the band up, but when Wooden Nickle Records, the band’s original label wouldn’t give the rights to “Lady” for use by A&M, Styx’s new label, the song had to be re-recorded and it sparked the band to give it another go. Along the ways, drugs and alcohol claimed the life of drummer John Panozzo. His brother Chuck after battling a mysterious illness finally freed himself and announced that he was gay. Additions of Todd Sucherman on drums and Lawrence Gowan to replace Dennis DeYoung have kept the band going. Due to Chuck’s inability to tour, Ricky Phillips has been added on bass, When possible, Chuck will always get up to play on “Fooling Yourself” when the band is nearby. The departure of Dennis, especially after he and Tommy had reconciled, still remains perplexing to STYX fans everywhere. In the early 2000s, the band was beginning to enjoy a resurgence and the guys were eager to hit the road and tour.
Dennis wanted the tour postponed as he was having headaches that were linked to “light sensitivity”. The rest of the band wanted to strike while the iron was hot and decided to move on and leave Dennis behind. Lawrence Gowan’s uncanny vocals allowed the transition to be more seamless than DeYoung fans had hoped. The more complete STYX story is below on VH1’s “Behind The Music” as well as the complete concert “Return To Paradise” to enjoy!. STYX performs at Speed Street on Saturday, May 25th and Charlotte’s legendary “Sugarcreek” will open! I know I’ll be there to relive some great memories. How about you?