Styx

Styx are an American symphonic/hard-rock band that released four albums on Wooden Nickel between 1972 and 1974, followed by seven albums and a live double-LP on A&M between 1975 and 1984.

Members: Dennis DeYoung (vocals, keyboards, accordion, 1961-99), Chuck Panozzo (bass, guitar, vocals, 1961-63, 1964-present), John Panozzo (drums, percussion, vocals, 1961-96), Tom Nardin (guitar, 1963-69), John Curulewski (guitar, synthesizer, autoharp, vocals, 1969-75), James “JY” Young (guitar, vocals, keyboards, 1970-present), Tommy Shaw (guitar, vocals, mandolin, 1975-83, 1995-present), Glen Burtnik (guitar, vocals, 1990-91, bass, vocals, 1999-2004), Todd Sucherman (drums, percussion, vocals, 1996-present), Lawrence Gowan (keyboards, guitar, vocals, 1999-present), Ricky Phillips (bass, vocals, 2004-present)


Background

The roots of Styx trace to a Roseland, Ill., neighborhood band, The Tradewinds, formed in 1961 by teenage pianist Dennis DeYoung and twin brothers Chuck (bass) and John Panozzo (drums). In 1964, guitarist Tom Nardini joined the band, which changed names the following year to TW4 (There Were 4). During the late ’60s, the band played high school dances as the members attended Chicago State College. In 1969, folk guitarist John Curulewski replaced Nardini. Rock guitarist James “JY” Young joined in 1970, completing the original five-piece.

In 1972, the band signed to Chicago’s Wooden Nickel Records. Just prior to recording their first album, they changed their name to Styx, named after the underworld river in Greek mythology.


Styx

Styx released their self-titled debut album in August 1972. Side one is largely consumed by the four-part, 13-minute suite “Movement for the Common Man,” which features movements by Young (“Children of the Land”) and DeYoung (“Mother Nature’s Matinee”) and an excerpt from Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. Side two contains DeYoung’s “Best Thing,” issued as the band’s first single.

The remaining songs on Styx are covers. The track “What Has Come Between Us” shifts through several ideas — opening piano fugue, colliding hard-rock riff, acoustic/harmonized song proper — that presage epics on future albums. DeYoung and Young take equal turns at the mic on this release. Styx was recorded at Chicago’s Paragon Recording Studios and produced by John Ryan and Bill Traut, who would also oversee the band’s second and fourth albums.


Styx II

The band’s second album, Styx II, was released in July 1973. Side one is titled “Heads” and contains two songs apiece by DeYoung and Curulewski, including the latter’s eight-minute epic “A Day.” The second side is called “Tails” and contains three DeYoung originals, including the seven-minute “Father O.S.A.,” which segues from a 70-second interpretation of Bach’s “Little Fugue in G.” Curulewski sings on both of his numbers. Two of DeYoung’s shorter cuts (“You Need Love” and “I’m Gonna Make You Feel It”) are sung by Young.

DeYoung’s “Lady,” written about his wife, was issued as a single. It became their breakthrough hit two years later, after the release of their fourth album, when Chicago’s WLS (AM) finally playlisted the song.


The Serpent Is Rising

Three months after Styx II, the band released their third album, The Serpent Is Rising, in October 1973. DeYoung contributed three songs: “The Grove of Eglantine,” “Winner Take All,” and “Jonas Psalter.” He sings on the first while Young handles the latter two. Curulewski also contributed three songs: “As Bad as This,” “22 Years” (sung by DeYoung and Young), and the title-track. He also vocalizes “Krakatoa,” a 90-second soliloquy set to an electronic backing track by Beaver & Krause. That segues into a group-sung rendition of “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, recorded at St. James Cathedral, Chicago.

“As Bad As This” contains the comedic postlude “Plexiglas Toilet,” mock-operatized by Curulewski and the Panozzo’s. “22 Years” features Wooden Nickel president Bill Traut on saxophone. The Serpent Is Rising was produced by the band and engineered by Barry Mraz.


Man of Miracles

Styx released their fourth album, Man of Miracles, on November 8, 1974, on Wooden Nickel.


Equinox

Styx released their fifth album, Equinox, on December 1, 1975, on A&M Records.


Crystal Ball

Styx released their sixth album, Crystal Ball, on October 1, 1976, on A&M.


The Grand Illusion

Styx released their seventh album, The Grand Illusion, on July 7, 1977, on A&M.


Pieces of Eight

Styx released their eighth album, Pieces of Eight, on September 1, 1978, on A&M.


Cornerstone

Styx released their ninth album, Cornerstone, on October 19, 1979, on A&M.


Paradise Theatre

Styx released their tenth album, Paradise Theatre, on January 16, 1981, on A&M.


Kilroy Was Here

Styx released their eleventh album, Kilroy Was Here, on February 28, 1983, on A&M.


Caught in the Act

In April 1984, Styx released the live double-album Caught in the Act, recorded on April 9–10, 1983, at Saenger Theater, New Orleans. The opening track, “Music Time,” is a new studio song recorded in January 1984, just prior to the band’s initial breakup.


Discography:

  • Styx (1972)
  • Styx II (1973)
  • The Serpent Is Rising (1973)
  • Man of Miracles (1974)
  • Equinox (1975)
  • Crystal Ball (1976)
  • The Grand Illusion (1977)
  • Pieces of Eight (1978)
  • Cornerstone (1979)
  • Paradise Theatre (1981)
  • Kilroy Was Here (1983)
  • Caught in the Act (live, 1984)
  • Edge of the Century (1990)

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