Second City rock Houdinis Styx pulled a rabbit out of their hat and made mainstream success appear in July 1977 with The Grand Illusion. 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 consideration. For many years outside of the North American music business meccas of New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, there was a bi-coastal bias against the bands who called the vast Midwest home. “Flyover states” was the dismissive term, and the barriers which that contempt presented for deserving bands to get record deals were enormous. Just ask Bob Seger (Detroit), REO Speedwagon (Champaign-Urbana IL), Rush (Toronto), and Chicago’s Styx. After all, Styx took their name from the mythical river which ran through Hell!
My first personal interaction with Styx came in the Summer 1975 as the MC of a daylong multi-band festival as I introduced them to the enormous crowd in the Bowling Green(OH) State University football stadium, over 35,000 people waiting for one song,”Lady“. But over the next six years Styx impressively and dramatically would rise from one-song wonders to being voted “America’s Favorite Band” in the 1981 national Gallup opinion poll!
(James”JY”Young left & Tommy Shaw Dallas-Ft Worth 2014)
Beginning with 1977’s Grand Illusion breakthrough, every Styx studio album sold platinum or mult-platinum, and that includes their controversial concept album Kilroy Was Here in 1983, which probably was ahead of its time, at least in live theatrical presentation, but ultimately tore the band apart for many years.
The release of the impressive premium vinyl deluxe box set The A&M Albums 1975-1984 gave current Styx mainstays Tommy Shaw, James “JY” Young, and Lawrence Gowan a wonderful opportunity to document the musical bookends of that period including 1975’s first on the label, Equinox, followed by Shaw’s debut on Crystal Ball in 1976, while ex-member and Styx co-founder Dennis DeYoung honestly and eloquently reveals triumphs and missteps along the way.