Styx — Miss America

Styx began as a Chicago progressive rock band in the late ’70’s. They paved the way for the arena rock paradigm of the ’70’s and ’80’s.

The band began to formulate in the late ’60’s under the name Tradewinds, with members Chuck and John Panozzo, who played bass and drums, and Dennis DeYoung on vocals and keyboards. James «JY» Young and John Curulewski eventually joined the ensemble, and they were signed to a recording contract in 1972 with Wooden Nickel Records, a subsidiary of RCA. Soon after this, the band changed their name to Styx, a named derived from Greek mythology for the river that flowed through the land of the dead.

Styx’s music at this time reflected their influences from the current progressive rock bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Triumverate, The Moody Blues and Genesis. Clearly, here is where Styx guitar music began to take shape. The band toured almost constantly at this time. In 1974, the song «Lady» started to receive local Chicago airplay. The song was well received and, subsequently, released nationally. At the same time, the album Styx II was certified gold.

In 1975, the band changed their label to A&M, and Tommy Shaw joined the group as the replacement for John Curulewski. Styx then went on to release four platinum albums, 1976’s Crystal Ball, 1977’s The Grand Illusion, 1978’s Pieces of Eight, and 1979’s Cornerstone. The hit singles included «Come Sail Away», «Renegade», «Blue Collar Man», «Fooling Yourself», and «Babe», written by DeYoung. Many famous Styx guitar solos are found on these releases.


«Babe» caused tension between Shaw and DeYoung, as the guitarist wanted Styx to explore a hard rock-based path, but DeYoung seeking melodic pieces. DeYoung was briefly kicked out of the band, but was reunited with the band before it became public. The fortunate result of the reconciliation was 1981’s Paradise Theater album, which became Styx’s biggest hit of their career, selling more than three million albums in three years. The album included Too Much Time on My Hands» and «The Best of Times.»

More infighting continued in the band during the ’80’s. The majority of the members released solo projects during the remainder of the decade, with mixed success. In 1996, there was a successful full reunion tour, but was clouded by the death of drummer John Panozzo. The tour produced a live album in 1997, Return to Paradise. The band attempted to continue making music, however physical maladies with some members and different musical goals precluded any serious long-term reunion.

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