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
|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.|
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
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
"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
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,