focusing on the 1978 release of “Pieces of Eight”, former Styx member and co-founder Dennis DeYoung confesses that, in spite of his major conceptual songwriting role on the band’s 1977 breakthrough three million seller “The Grand Illusion”, the highly-anticipated follow-up “Pieces of Eight” was not his finest hour. Styx guitarists/ songwriters/ singers Tommy Shaw and James Young stepped up creatively to fill the void on “Pieces of Eigh”t, again selling triple platinum with the muscular “Blue Collar Man”,”Renegade”,”The Great White Hope”,”Queen of Spades”, and “Sing for the Day”.
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Styx in June 2019 at the annual “Sweden Rocks” outdoor festival ripping through a spirited performance of “Renegade”.
Tommy Shaw of Styx unplugged doing “Crystal Ball” in Memphis Spring 1981;with an additional verse not on the Styx album!
Styx co-founder Dennis DeYoung, lifer James “JY” Young, and then recently recruited Alabama boy Tommy Shaw all join me here with current Styx keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan In the Studio for the early days of being the perennial opening act, saddled with the curse “big in the Flyover States”, all the while writing and recording “Fooling Yourself”,”Come Sail Away”,”Miss America”, “Man in the Wilderness”, and “Grand Illusion”.
Styx was one of the last bands to come off the road when the COVID-19 lockdown silenced the live music industry in early 2020, and Styx was among the very first to re-emerge back in early June 2021. I simply love what the group does live these days with the AI-themed “Mr. Roboto”.
If I told you that over forty years ago one of America’s top music acts released a concept album that identified growing cracks in the foundation of our society and presciently predicted everything we find today, who would you guess it was? Bob Dylan? Neil Young? Crosby Stills and Nash? I doubt that Styx would come to mind to many, but that is precisely what “Paradise Theater” was, part lament, part warning. Current members Tommy Shaw, JY, & Lawrence Gowan all weigh in as does ex-member Dennis DeYoung on “Paradise Theater” ‘s fortieth anniversary.
Styx singer/songwriter/guitarist Tommy Shaw rolled out of bed and used a borrowed acoustic guitar to sing live on my afternoon show …1981 acoustic version of his “Crystal Ball” ( with the extra verse not on the Styx version)
there was high drama and great music before with the third-time’s-the-charm “Lady”, then 1975’s strong Equinox album containing “Light Up”, “Lorelei”, and the timeless “Suite: Madame Blue”. Band leaders even today James “JY” Young and Tommy Shaw look back on the Equinox along with the original former co-founding member who wrote and sang all of those songs, Dennis DeYoung
Eligible for Hall of Fame induction for twenty-two years, Styx has continued to be one of the top touring ticket sellers year after year to this day, continued to record and release spectacular high-concept high-tech rock such as 2017’s The Mission , yet surprisingly been unable to conjure up even a single nomination for Rock Hall of Fame consideration.
Styx here live in blues legend Willie Dixon‘s recording studio at 2120 Michigan Avenue, the site of the original Chess Records, back in 2004 laying down a soul-infused reading of Tommy Shaw‘s working class musical manifesto “Blue Collar Man”. The song and the Styx album on which it originally appeared, Pieces of Eight , mark […]