Just compare Styx's "Suite Madame Blue" with Led Zeppelin's "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" and it will become clear to any doubters why Styx was able to find a very happy home at AOR radio stations between 1971 and the late-1980s. This show, taken from the Bill Graham archives, shows them near their commercial peak after the release of the initial A&M releases Equinox, Crystal Ball, and The Grand Illusion.
The group emerged from a popular Chicago club act, the Tradewinds, that featured brothers John and Chuck Panozzo (on bass and drums) and vocalist/keyboardist Dennis DeYoung. Eventually the Tradewinds broke up, and the Panozzos and DeYoung formed Styx with guitarists JY Young and John Curulewski.
The group signed with an RCA label offshoot, Wooden Nickel Records, and became a regional sensation, fueled by the rock ballad, "Lady." After four albums with that label, they moved to A&M. John Curulewski left after the first release, Equinox, and was replaced by the excellent vocalist and guitarist, Tommy Shaw.
With the power of the A&M publicity and radio staff behind them, and with a roster of commercially appealing songs such as "The Grand Illusion," "Lorelei," "Fooling Yourself (Palm Of Your Hands)," "Suite Madame Blue," "Crystal Ball," "Light Up," and "Come Sail Away" (all featured here at this Winterland show), Styx soon became one of the most popular FM rock bands in America. Eventually the members of the band began to fight amongst themselves, led by Shaw (who felt the band needed to be positioned in a more hard rock vein) and DeYoung (who envisioned a more theatrical and Broadway-driven format.)
After this tour, their albums, arguably, became more and more contrived. Eventually Styx split in 1984. Shaw formed Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent, and DeYoung launched a solo career that was only moderately successful at best. The band reunited in the 1990s, but without John Panozzo, who had died from alcohol related issues. The reunion was a surprise success but eventually the rift between Shaw and DeYoung resurfaced. When DeYoung took a leave to recuperate from an eye ailment, the band regrouped with a new singer. DeYoung tried to sue, and in 2001 the two parties settled.
Shaw and Young now front a newer version of Styx (Chuck Panozzo left after contracting AIDS). De Young, after getting his Broadway fix out with a failed album of classics from the Great White Way, tours as "the former vocalist of Styx."