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Although they began as an artsy prog rock band, Styx would eventually transform into the virtual arena rock prototype by the late 1970s and early 1980s, due to a fondness for bombastic rockers and soaring power ballads. The seeds for the band were planted in another Chicago band during the late 1960s, the Tradewinds, which featured brothers Chuck and John Panozzo (who played bass and drums, respectively), as well as acquaintance Dennis DeYoung (vocals, keyboards). By the dawn of the 1970s, the group had changed its name to TW 4, and welcomed aboard a pair of guitarists/vocalists, James "JY" Young and John Curulewski — securing a recording contract in 1972 with Wooden Nickel Records (a subsidiary of RCA). Soon after, the group opted to change its name once more, this time to Styx, named after a river from Classical Mythology that ran through "the land of the dead" in the underworld.
The band had a string of top 40 hits throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, including such mainstays as "Come Sail Away", "Renegade" and "Snowblind". Internally, the group was wracked with tension. DeYoung, who had begun to take onto himself the role of "band leader", attempted to steer Styx into a dramatic, almost operatic direction. This brought him into direct conflict with most of the rest of the band, who were more interested in a harder, rocking sound than the soaring balladic style DeYoung envisioned. The tensions came to a head in the form of the tour for Kilroy Was Here, an early-80s concept album cast around a Twenty Minutes Into the Future scenario in which Moral Guardians had succeeded in outlawing Rock and Roll. DeYoung managed to turn the concert into a musical telling the story of the album; this pleased neither his bandmates (who felt profoundly uncomfortable trying to act in between songs) nor the fans (who felt they were being cheated). The tour failed miserably, and in its wake the band broke up.
In the middle 1990s the hard feelings had faded enough for Styx to reunite to tour and record again, but DeYoung's control freakery began to raise its head once more not long after. Unwilling to put up with it, the rest of Styx expelled him from the band. They now tour as Styx with a new lead vocalist/keyboardist---Lawrence Gowan, formerly a major Canadian solo act in his own right back in the 80s---while DeYoung tours with an orchestra performing Styx songs and new material more in keeping with his personal artistic vision.
Styx has examples of:
- Badass Grandpa: Styx is one of the few bands that are as tight in concert as on albums, and most of the members are around 60.
- Bad Future: The alternate future of Kilroy Was Here, in which rock 'n roll music is outlawed, Big Brother Is Watching You and Japanese corporations control everything
- The Band Minus the Face: After Dennis DeYoung's departure(s)
- Broken Pedestal: "Fallen Angel".
- Concept Album: Pieces of Eight, The Grand Illusion, Paradise Theater and Kilroy Was Here.
- Control Freak: Dennis DeYoung. A nice enough one, but a control freak nonetheless. (It's outright confirmed in VH-1's Behind the Music: Remastered special on Styx.)
- Culture Police: Kilroy Was Here and its Majority for Musical Morality.
- Determinator: "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)" is about an desperate unemployed man who is willing to work as long and as hard as he can to hold a steady job.
- Drugs Are Bad: "Snowblind" is about the ups and downs of cocaine addiction.
- Inverted with "Heavy Metal Poisoning", in which the singer encourages drug use: "Get the lead out, go for broke/Up your pills and drink and smoke/Shoot those chemicals in your veins/Anything to ease the pain". Of course, JY was playing the bad guy.
- Eenie Meenie Miny Moai: The Hipgnosis cover of Pieces of Eight.
- Forgiveness: "She Cares".
- Fun with Acronyms: The elder rocker of and namesake of the Kilroy Was Here album: Robert Orin Charles Kilroy.
- Gratuitous Japanese: Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto...
- Especially in the mini-film of Kilroy breaking out from prison, from the poor Roboto he hits with a Groin Attack.
- Greatest Hits Album: I've seen two or three out there; the band does legitimately have many hits for them.
- Incredibly Long Note: DeYoung sometimes does this in live performances of "Suite Madame Blue". Also done by Tommy Shaw during a cover of "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" on the Styxworld: Live 2001 album.
- Large Ham: JY sinks his teeth into the role of Dr. Righteous with aplomb. Just check out the video for Heavy Metal Poisoning.
- Lonely At the Top: "Nothing Ever Goes as Planned"; "Babe"; "Too Much Time on My Hands" has elements too.
- Long-Distance Relationship: "Babe" and "Nothing Ever Goes As Planned" both talk about the loneliness of the road, staying faithful to someone who's waiting for you back at home.
- Power Ballad: "Come Sail Away", "Babe" and many more.
- The Power of Rock
- Precision F-Strike: Dennis DeYoung's intro to "The Grand Illusion" on the Return to Paradise tour and CD.
Dennis: You wanna know why your life ain't like what you see on TV and magazines and stuff like that? Because that's all bullshit!
- Rock Opera: Kilroy Was Here.
- Subliminal Seduction: "Snowblind" allegedly contained backwards Satanic messages. Playing off the controversy, several songs on the Kilroy Was Here album deliberately contained backwards messages made up of latin phrases read off of US currency, among other benign sources.
- Which made sense, considering the theme of the album involved a dictator who took over the world by banning rock and roll and brainwashing people.
- Textless Album Cover: Pieces of Eight.
- Triumphant Reprise: "Don't Let It End (Reprise)" bills itself as this, and has the energy. Your Mileage May Vary, since it's from Kilroy Was Here. Oddly, while it's titled as a reprise of "Don't Let It End", and uses that as the refrain, the intro is more "Mr Roboto".
- Twist Ending: The end of Come Sail Away: "I thought that they were angels, but much to my surprise, they climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies"
- Villain Song: "Heavy Metal Poisoning", from Kilroy Was Here.