Throughout the summer, the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in Columbus has been bringing back the best of the 70s and 80s with musical acts such as Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper. This series of concerts was named the Classic Rock Combo, and will come to an end this week with a final performance by Styx. The American rock band first gained fame for their albums from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Chicago band is known for melding the style of prog-rock with the power of hard rock guitar, strong ballads, and elements of American musical theater.
In 1961, twin brothers Chuck and John Panozzo first got together with their neighbor Dennis DeYoung and began performing under the name “The Tradewinds.” In 1965, the name “Tradewinds” was changed to TW4 after another band called The Trade Winds broke through nationally. In 1969, the trio added a college buddy, John Curulewski, on guitar. Another guitarist, James “J.Y.” Young, came aboard in 1970 making TW4 a quintet. In 1972 the band members decided to choose a new name when they signed to Wooden Nickel Records; several suggestions were made and, says DeYoung, Styx was chosen because it was “the only one that none of us hated.”
The band’s Wooden Nickel recordings Styx (1972), Styx II (1973), The Serpent Is Rising (1973), and Man of Miracles (1974) were a mixture of straight-ahead rock with some dramatic prog-rock flourishes and art-rock aspirations. These albums showcase intricate and powerful organ, guitar, vocal, and percussion solos as well. On the strength of these releases and constant playing at local clubs and schools, the band established a fan base in the Chicago area, but was unable to break into the mainstream until an earlier song, the power ballad “Lady” (from Styx II), began to earn some radio time. In 1975, nearly two years after the album was released, “Lady” hit #6 in the U.S., and Styx II went gold soon after.
On the heels of their belated hit single, Styx signed with A&M Records and released Equinox, which sold well and yielded a minor hit in “Lorelei,” #27 in the U.S. Following the move to A&M, Curulewski left the band and was replaced by guitarist Tommy Shaw. The Grand Illusion, the band’s 1977 album, became Styx’s breakthrough album, reaching triple platinum certification. It spawned a top ten hit with “Come Sail Away,” which reached #8 in 1978. Styx’s 1979 album Cornerstone yielded their only #1 hit, the ballad “Babe.” By early 1980, “Babe” had became the band’s biggest international hit and first million-selling single, reaching #6 in the United Kingdom.
Styx did not reach their peak stardom until the 1980s when they 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” and “Too Much Time on My Hands.” Paradise Theatre became the band’s fourth consecutive multi-platinum album.
Since their formation in the 1970s, Styx has released 15 studio albums, six live albums, 14 compilation albums, and 31 singles. Their music has been featured in several movies and television shows as well, such as Futurama, South Park, That 70s Show, and Arrested Development. After playing together for nearly 50 years, Styx has sold over 25 million albums.
Styx is on tour now and will be performing live at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in Columbus on Friday, September 2nd with opening act Scotty Bratcher. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased for $30. The show will be held outdoors rain or shine and the gates open for admission at 6:30 pm.