Styx returns to USANA

Styx singer/keyboardist Lawrence Gowan is proud of his Canadian roots. But he’s not above poking fun at Canadian stereotypes.
“By law you have to be a (Toronto) Maple Leafs fan,” he told the Deseret News during a recent tour stop in Pittsburgh. “Among most families there are two kids named Geddy, three named Alex and they all go to Neil McNeil High School.”
Friday, Gowan and Styx return to Utah along with frequent touring partner REO Speedwagon. It’s one of just three shows the fellow Chicago area bands will play together in 2011.
“There’s a long standing relationship we’ve had with the band and a very successful one,” Gowan said. “We’ve toured with just about every classic rock band there is. With REO we have a very relaxed repertoire between the two bands. They understand our humor, we dig their company as well. And audiences embrace us so well.”
For Gowan, who had an established solo career prior to joining Styx, the opportunity to play in one of classic rock’s most famous bands gave him the chance to do something that he previously couldn’t do: breakthrough in the United States.
“It didn’t mater how m any platinum records, gold records or Junos I collected, they would not release my records in the United States. The gate keeper’s keys were very well guarded,” he said. “I loved my solo career. But there was a frustration I couldn’t break right across the border. There’s something about not playing in America that feels wrong. I felt it would happen, I just never imagined a legendary band of this statute would be the doorway.”
Styx has been rocking audiences now for nearly four decades and is recognized as one of the most successful rock bands of all time. From 1977 to 1981 the band released four consecutive albums that went multi-platinum, meaning they all sold at least two million copies. Three of those albums, The Grand Illusion, Pieces of Eight and Paradise Theater, each sold more than three million copies.
Their hits can be heard daily on classic rock radio stations across the nation including “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade” and “Too Much Time On My Hands.” Styx is driven by Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young, with an occasional appearance by original bassist Chuck Panozzo, along with Gowan, Ricky Phillips and one of the best drummers in music today, Todd Sucherman, who would be worth the price of admission alone.
Gowan, who was born in Scotland, grew up in Scarborough, Ontario. Beginning in 1982, he began establishing a successful solo career in Canada, including his first Canadian top 10 hit in 1985, “A Criminal Mind.”
In 1999, Gowan was asked to join the band after original vocalist Dennis DeYoung had an acrimonious split with the other members. For many fans, Styx couldn’t have made a better pick, even though Gowan isn’t so sure about those who find similarities in the two singers’ voices.
“I don’t think we sound anything alike,” he said. “I never considered myself as a replacement. There were past members of the band who have all made contributions to the group. As long as people keep coming to the shows and I see the look on their faces, I know something is right about this band. It’s ultimately up to the fans. Part of the Styx sound is that trademark three part harmony. The choruses sound pretty damn exact. The difference are the songs I sing lead on. There are people who think we sound nothing alike, there are people who think we sound identical. The ultimate opinion is the band has succeeded.”
The chemistry within the band has worked well. So much so that Styx has even worked Gown’s solo hit, “A Criminal Mind” into their set list every so often.
In recent years, Gowan’s career has come full circle as he has done several solo dates, including a tour through Canada. Only now, he said Americans are the ones following him over the border to see him play.
“That’s the beautiful thing, theres’a very big audience there who became more and more curious about my solo days. That never would have happened if I hadn’t joined the band,” Gown said.
Recently, Gowan was inducted into the Scarborough Walk of Fame. Scarborough makes up the eastern part of Toronto and has also produced the likes of Mike Myers, Jim Carrey and the Barenaked Ladies.
“It was a great honor. It was just fun,” he said.
A Styx concert is Utah is almost an annual event. In 2004, the band played a memorable very cold and wet show to kick off the USANA Amphitheatre’s season.
“I guess people that have grown up there might take for granted the mountains. That is one of the highlights to stand on stage and look at the mountains in the distance and looking out at the crowd,” Gowan said. “But being the lone Canadian in the band, I don’t have to see snow to enjoy it to perform.”

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