By Eric Christiansen
They have played at the Super Bowl, and now Styx will be playing at the Honeywell Center in Wabash on Thursday, March 23.
Styx will present many of their greatest hits to the Honeywell Center crowd, including "The Grand Illusion," "Renegade," and "Come Sail Away" to the Wabash crowd.
Lead singer Lawrence Gowan told The Paper of Wabash County that Styx is excited for what the band calls "An Evening with Styx".
"We go deeper into the archives," Gowan said. "I'd say we are going to get a good thorough Styx epic adventure on March 23."
Styx was formed in 1972 with twin brothers Chuck and John Panozzo and neighbor Dennis DeYoung in Chicago. In all, Styx has had 11 band members, hitting their pinnacle in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which included James "J.Y." Young and Tommy Shaw.
Currently, Styx is a six-member band with Young and Shaw, along with Chuck Panozzo still with the group, and has added Gowan, bass player Ricky Phillips, and drummer Todd Sucherman.
Gowan, who replaced original lead singer DeYoung in 1999, said all 11 members, current or past, have made an impact on the success of Styx.
"The legacy of Styx has continued despite having to make some difficult and sometimes painful changes over the year, but it's been relatively few, despite the longevity of the band," Gowan said. "We are truly a culmination of everyone who has ever been in the band. The band is as great as it is today because they had to make difficult changes to extend the life of the band."
Gowan joined Styx after opening for the band in 1997.
"I was a solo act, just me on piano, but that got me into their circle," he said. "When they decided to make a change in 1999, I was the guy who got called."
Gowan said his only hesitation was being happy as a solo artist and didn't envision himself in a band. But his publicist had different thoughts.
"She told me what is going happen is me going to a band," he said. "She said so many bands were suddenly looking to find new members because they were lasting longer than they anticipated."
Six months later, Young and Shaw called Gowan, and he realized it made sense to join.
"Let's face it, if a band with the legacy of Styx calls and asks if you'd be interested, you'd be flattered and curious," Gowan said.
Gowan had an 18-year career, with his main success coming in Canada, and felt that after he just released his greatest hits album, maybe it was time to make a change.
"I figured I'd play with them for a couple of years and see if anybody likes it," he said. "That was 18 years ago. What we didn't foresee was the impact rock music would have in the last half of the 20th century. It wound up being the colossal statement of not just one generation, but several.
"What I've witnessed in the band is the younger people who weren't even alive when some of the biggest Styx albums were made are just as enthusiastic devotees of the band as people who were around Styx forever," Gowan added.
He added that on any given night, a different song can hit him as his favorite to perform, but "Renegade" is a song that always seems to make an impact.
"I've seen the audience, from the initial welcoming to the ecstatic fervor they display throughout the show, no matter where we play, and it's amazing how similar audiences are when we get to the point of playing 'Renegade'," Gowan said. "Tommy (Shaw) is singing lead on that, so I have a chance to see the impact the show has been on people. That makes it enjoyable for me on stage, more for the moment, and not just the song."
As far as March 23 in Wabash, Gowan is looking forward to the crowd experiencing a great live rock show.
"I like to say the great Styx epic adventure continues, and that's really what the message is," he said. "For me, it's the greatest form of entertainment I've experienced. Nothing seems to stay with me longer than a great rock concert, and I want people to have a little bit of that when they see Styx."
Tickets are available for Styx at www.honeywellcenter.org.