Styx is a classic rock band that first formed in Chicago in the mid 1960s. Twin brothers Chuck Panozzo (bass) and John Panozzo (drums), started playing in the afternoons in their garage. Their friend and neighbor, Dennis DeYoung (keyboards, vocals), joined them shortly afterwards. The three musicians named themselves The Tradewinds, and started playing at weddings and dances. After finishing high school, the group attended Chicago State College, where they met a guitarist named John Curulewski, and changed their name to TW4.
By 1970, TW4 started looking for a second guitarist and a record deal. It didn't take them long to find James Young, nicknamed J.Y., a six foot tall powerhouse guitarist who was from a rival band. J.Y.'s hard rock and heavy metal guitar playing transformed TW4. The record deal didn't come until 1971, when the band signed to Wooden Nickel, a small Chicago-based subsidary of RCA Records. The band then changed their name to Styx, after the mythological river of the underworld.
Their first album, Styx, was released in 1972. It featured the hit single "Best Thing", which managed to crack the Billboard Top 100. The next album, Styx II, featured the hit ballad "Lady", but when it was initially released, the song didn't chart, which disappointed the band.
The Serpent Is Rising (1973) and Man Of Miracles (1974), both managed to crack the Billboard Top 100, but outside of Chicago, Styx was virtually unknown. After four albums, Styx had conquered their hometown, but hadn't made an impact nationwide.
That changed in 1975, when Chicago's radio station WLS played "Lady" from the second album. WLS was determined to make "Lady" a hit single, and thanks to their promotional efforts, "Lady" would go on to become Styx's first top 10 hit, reaching #6 on the charts that year. Styx wasn't happy with Wooden Nickel's lack of promotion, so even though they now had a hit single, they felt it was time to move on.
Styx signed to A & M Records in early 1975, and their first A & M album, Equinox, was released in March of that year. This album had a much better sound and direction, and became Styx's breakthrough album. The hit single "Lorelei" reached #27 on the charts, while the song "Suite Madame Blue", written by DeYoung about the bicentennial of America, became a fan favorite. Curulewski, however, had grown tired of the excessive touring and DeYoung's dominance within Styx, and left the band just before the "Equinox" tour was set to begin. A frantic search for a replacement led to guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw, a native of southern Alabama, who had played in a bar band called MS Funk in Chicago. Shaw immediately made his presence known on the road, adding elements of showmanship to Styx's live shows, with his leg sidekicks and bounding around on stage. While this made the band more popular, it also caused conflict with DeYoung, who realized that Shaw's presence was beginning to change Styx into a more commercial band.
Shaw's first album with Styx, Crystal Ball (1976), featured Shaw's famous title track, which became one of Styx's most popular songs among fans. The lone single from the album, "Mademoiselle", reached #36 on the charts.
The Grand Illusion (1977), Styx's seventh album, became their first multi-platinum album, and featured the popular title track, written by DeYoung. The DeYoung single "Come Sail Away" hit the top 10 in 1978, while Shaw's "Fooling Yourself" and J.Y.'s "Miss America" also became hit singles from the album.
Pieces Of Eight (1978) also reached multi-platinum status, with the hits "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)" and "Renegade", written by Shaw.
Cornerstone (1979) was another multi-platinum success with the ballad "Babe", written by DeYoung. This song led to increased tensions within Styx, as DeYoung's soft rock balladry battled with the hard rock bombast of Shaw and Young. It lead to DeYoung being fired from the band temporarily, but he returned to the band two months later, after Styx couldn't find a replacement for him.
Paradise Theater (1980) was a conceptual album about the famed theatre in Chicago. It was the first Styx album to reach #1 on the charts. Some of its many hits included "Rockin' The Paradise", "Too Much Time On My Hands", "The Best Of Times" and "Snowblind".
After the tour for "Paradise Theater" was completed in 1981, tensions had surfaced among the band members, especially between Dennis DeYoung and Tommy Shaw. Shaw wanted Styx to return to their hard rocking roots, but DeYoung was already planning Styx's most ambitious concept album yet. It was 1983 before Styx released Kilroy Was Here, which featured a short play before each concert, in which the band members acted out onstage. DeYoung played famed rocker Kilroy, while Young played the evil Dr. Righteous, who was out to destroy rock and roll. Shaw played Jonathan Chance, who set about to free Kilroy from imprisonment by Righteous. Styx toured initially in small theatres to promote the album, but the play prior to each concert irked longtime fans. Styx began losing money because of the small venues, nonetheless, the album was a double platinum success, and featured the rather cooky hit "Mr. Roboto". When Styx tried to play the "Kilroy" show at the Cotton Bowl in Texas, they were booed offstage by irritated fans, who hated the preshow play. After another show in Houston, the band decided to stop the tour.
Shaw, who was completely embarassed by the end of the "Kilroy" tour, made the decision to quit Styx altogether. DeYoung felt that Styx could not go on without Shaw, so the band announced that they were disbanding. The live album Caught In The Act (1984), recorded mostly in New Orleans during the "Kilroy" tour, would be the last from the band for quite some time. Shaw, DeYoung, and Young all decided to pursue solo careers with varying degrees of success.
In 1990, the band decided to reunite and release a new album, titled Edge Of The Century. Unfortunately, Tommy Shaw did not appear on this album, as he was in the band Damn Yankees at the time with guitarist Ted Nugent and bassist Jack Blades of Night Ranger. To take Shaw's place, the band selected guitarist/vocalist Glen Burtnick, a solo artist on A & M Records. The album featured DeYoung's hit ballad, "Show Me The Way", which became an anthem for the troops during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
During the tour for the "Edge..." album, Styx crossed paths with Damn Yankees, and DeYoung and Shaw met for the first time since 1984. Damn Yankees had been poking fun at DeYoung's hit song "Babe", in which Nugent would destroy Shaw's guitar onstage, which upset DeYoung and his wife Suzanne. During their short encounter, Shaw promised DeYoung that he would stop making fun of "Babe", but that didn't lead to a reunion of Styx. By 1991, Styx once again split up, with DeYoung pursuing a career in Broadway musicals, and Young forming The James Young Group, which released one album. By 1995, the band's contract with A & M was up, and two greatest hits CDs came out as a close to that era. Shaw returned to Styx to do a remake of the classic hit "Lady" for the first album, and two new songs, "Little Suzie" and "It Takes Love" for the second album.
Styx then went on a long reunion tour, which featured all the members except John Panozzo, who was suffering from health problems. Tragedy struck the band in the middle of the tour, when John Panozzo passed away at his home in Chicago. The tour was halted until after the funeral. It was a sad time for the band and fans alike. Drummer Todd Sucherman, who had been playing with the band on the reunion tour, was chosen as John Panozzo's permanent successor.
A second live album, Return To Paradise, came out in 1997 on CMC International Records, Styx's new label. Surprisingly, it would be one of the last Styx albums to feature some of the long-standing original members.
In 1998, Styx began work on their first studio album in eight years. Work started off well, but then Dennis DeYoung came down with a mysterious illness that left him sensitive to heat and light. When it looked as if DeYoung would not be able to tour in support of the album, guitarist Tommy Shaw considered leaving the band. DeYoung convinced Shaw that he could finish the album with the band, but he still wasn't sure if he could tour.
In 1999, Styx released the album Brave New World. It featured the original lineup with Sucherman in the studio, but it would also mark the end of a long chapter in the history of Styx.
Styx was prepared to tour in 2000 in support of the "Brave New World" album, but Dennis DeYoung didn't want to commit to a long tour, fearing his illness would stop the tour. Tommy Shaw and James Young defiantly decided to go on tour anyway, with or without Dennis. When Dennis refused to get on the road, Shaw and Young selected Canadian musician Lawrence Gowan to become Styx's new keyboardist. Original bassist Chuck Panozzo also declined to tour, so former Styx guitarist Glen Burtnick was brought in as the new bassist, and Styx hit the road in support of the album.
Immediately, a legal battle ensued over who owned the rights to the name Styx. DeYoung protested his unceremonious ousting from Styx in court against Shaw and Young, but in the end, Shaw and Young were given the rights to the Styx moniker. DeYoung was forced to only use the title "The Music of Styx" when he performed the band's old hits as a solo artist. This left the Styx legacy permanently scarred, with no chance of DeYoung ever returning to Styx again. The bitter breakup was detailed in VH1's Behind The Music special on the band, which aired in 2000.
In 2000, Styx toured with REO Speedwagon, which resulted in the release of the Arch Allies-Live At Riverport album, in which both bands performed live sets, and then joined each other on stage to perform "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)" and "Roll With The Changes" as one supergroup.
Styx released two more live albums, Styx World-Live 2001 (2001) and At The River's Edge-Live In St. Louis (2002), before issuing another studio album, Cyclorama, in 2003. This first studio album without Dennis DeYoung had a much stronger rock approach, showcasing Tommy Shaw's tight grip over the band. While it didn't put Styx back on top, it did manage to generate one hit single, "Waiting For Our Time", which got all the way to #37 on the charts.
After the "Cyclorama" tour, bassist/guitarist Glen Burtnick left Styx once again, and was replaced by former Bad English bassist Ricky Phillips. Though his participation was limited due to health reasons, original bassist Chuck Panozzo also performed with Styx on certain dates. The group issued an album of cover songs in 2005, titled Big Bang Theory. Styx continues to perform live every year to this day, proving that they are not ready for the afterlife...yet.