Styx formed in Chicago. Twin brothers Chuck and John Panozzo first got together with their neighbor Dennis DeYoung in 1961 in the Roseland section of the south side of Chicago. Guitarist James "J.Y." Young came aboard in 1970, and the band brought on singer, songwriter, and guitarist Tommy Shaw in 1975.
The Grand Illusion (1977) became the group's breakthrough album, reaching triple platinum certification and spawning a top-ten hit and AOR radio staple in the DeYoung-penned "Come Sail Away," as well as a second radio hit, Shaw's "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)".
Through the late 1970s, the band enjoyed its greatest success. The album Pieces of Eight (1978) found the group moving in a more straight-ahead pop-rock direction and spawned the Shaw-penned hit singles "Renegade," and "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)," plus a minor hit in the release "Sing for the Day" that stopped just short of the Top Forty at #41.
Cornerstone (1979) yielded the group's first number one hit, the DeYoung ballad "Babe" . By early 1980, "Babe" had become the band's biggest international hit and first million-selling single, reaching number six in the United Kingdom ). The album also included the moderate DeYoung hit "Why Me", and "Borrowed Time" which was co-written with Shaw, plus Shaw's "Boat On The River". Styx was nominated for the twenty-second Grammy Awards for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. Cornerstone's engineers Gary Loizzo and Rob Kingsland were nominated for a Grammy at the 22nd Grammy Awards for Best Engineered Recording.
In January 1981, Styx released Paradise Theatre, a concept album that became their biggest hit, reaching number one on the Billboard pop albums chart and yielding five singles, including the top ten hits "The Best of Times" by DeYoung (#3) and "Too Much Time on My Hands" by Shaw (#9). Paradise Theater became the band's fourth consecutive multi-platinum album.
The band was accused by a California religious group and later the P.M.R.C of backmasking Satanic messages in their anti-cocaine anthem, "Snowblind." James Young has refuted this charge during his concert introduction for "Snowblind". Dennis DeYoung responded on In the Studio with Redbeard: "we had enough trouble to make the music sound right forward."
The popularity of the album helped win the band a People's Choice Award in 1981.
Throughout the 1980s, the band would use the album's opening track, "Rockin' the Paradise" (Charted at #8 on Top Rock Track Charts) to open their shows.
On the successes of the ballad "Babe" and the Paradise Theatre album, Styx founder DeYoung began pushing for a more theatrical direction, while Shaw and Young favored a harder-edged approach. (This arguing over musical direction had even led to a bit of tension in early 1980 when DeYoung briefly left the band. But things were quickly smoothed over and cooler heads prevailed, leading to his quick return.)
The band followed DeYoung's lead with their next project, Kilroy Was Here (1983), another, more fully-realized concept album, embracing the rock opera form. Set in a future where music itself has been outlawed, Kilroy featured Dennis DeYoung in the part of Kilroy, an unjustly imprisoned rock star. Tommy Shaw played the part of Jonathan Chance, a younger rocker who fights for Kilroy's freedom.
Part of the impetus for the Kilroy story was the band's reaction to accusations of including backwards satanic messages embedded in their prior releases. The album included James Young's song "Heavy Metal Poisoning", which includes lyrics sarcastically mocking the allegations against the group. Its introduction intentionally included a backward message, the Latin phrases, "annuit coeptis" and "novus ordo seclorum," from the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States. Referring to the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776, these are translated, "Annuit cœptis - He (God) favors our undertakings, and Novus ordo seclorum - A new order of the ages."
Kilroy went platinum in 1983, boasting two Top Ten hits, the synthesizer-based "Mr. Roboto" and power ballad "Don't Let It End." The album earned a nomination as Best Engineered Recording for engineer and long-time friend Gary Loizzo, and fellow engineers on the album Will Rascati and Rob Kingslad, for the twenty-sixth Grammy Awards (1983)
In 1983, the band mounted an ambitious stage show in support of Kilroy featuring theatrical presentations of several songs utilizing instrumental backing tracks, including "Mr. Roboto", which featured DeYoung singing live while costumed as a robot, and "Heavy Metal Poisoning" with James Young as the evil Dr. Righteous singing while the Panozzo brothers acted as his henchmen on stage. The elaborate show was expensive to produce and was not as profitable as previous tours.
Kilroy brought the creative and competitive tensions within the band to a breaking point. Tommy Shaw departed the band for a solo career at the conclusion of the Kilroy tour. In 1984, the band released its first live album, Caught in the Act. The project featured one studio track, "Music Time", which became a Top 40 hit. The concert was also filmed and released on VHS under the same title (and on DVD in 2007). However, by the time of the album's release, the band had already parted ways.
Wikipedia contributors. Styx (band). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. March 21, 2009, 06:39 UTC. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Styx_(band)&oldid=278690429. Accessed March 22, 2009.
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