‘There’s always an ongoing debate’: Lawrence Gowan sticks up for the current edition of Styx

Though it’s been 15 years since Lawrence Gowan took over as frontman with Styx, he’s aware that arguments continue over how the current version of the group matches up against the Dennis DeYoung-led edition.

Of course, with DeYoung on vocals, Styx boasted a string of Top 10 hits like “Babe,” “Lady,” “Come Sail Away,” “Don’t Let It End,” “Show Me the Way” and “Mr Roboto” between 1975 and 1990. They scored four consecutive multi-platinum albums, as well.

Still, by the late 1990s, DeYoung had split for a solo career, and Styx was casting about for a new singer. Gowan took over and, since then, the group has maintained a nearly non-stop touring schedule — playing more live shows since 1999 than all of the other lineups of Styx combined.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Styx's gonzo-guitarist James "J.Y." Young stopped in to talk about the band's life on the road, and its lasting effect on pop culture.]

They issued a new song in 2011, but otherwise have only gone into the studio to do new recordings of older hits.

To fill the void, Gowan has said he’s at work preparing his own solo release right now, the first since three years before joining Styx. He had previously overseen a 25th anniversary reissue of his Strange Animal project.

More typically, though, Gowan can be found performing songs once sang by DeYoung, so the comparisons — and the discussion about eras — rages on.

Gowan says he’s aware of them, though that doesn’t impact his enthusiasm for the material.

“I’m aware on the Internet there’s always an ongoing debate about which version of Styx is better, this era or the past era?” Gowan tells The Bakersfield Californian. “And it’s a very lively debate. Sometimes I actually look in on it just to take a look at what people are saying. It’s amazing how polarized they can be. But, of course, that’s the nature of Internet discussion, so to speak. But that’s the only insight I have to it. I (only) just saw tens of thousands of people on their feet at the end of every week and they seemed to be loving the band.”

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  • conrad stinnett

    I think there would be less of a debate if Styx had more original songs in their catalog that were done by Gowan. Only Cyclorama contains original material from the Gowan era. Styx has some good songwriters; it is shame that Gowan has to be stuck in the role of the guy who does old DDY songs. Styx could be so much more than a nostalgia band.

  • Frank Martin

    I saw the Gowan version of STYX in concert and it rocked. I saw the DeYoung version of STYX and it rocked. Only difference really is that Dennis made up a good majority of what STYX is all about when it comes to songs on albums. He wrote a lot of familiar faves and that combined with Tommy Shaw made some interesting listens. People don’t want to hear re released versions of the same songs on cd. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Journey,STYX, Van Halen…..people are used to the original singer. If Gowan had been the original STYX singer then everyone would complain about Dennis being the new singer. Once that singer leaves and is replaced the magic disppears too.

    Some songs Dennis wrote:

    Grand Illusion, Come Sail Away, Lady, Babe, Suite Madame Blue, Lorelei, Best Of Times, Mr Roboto, Don’t Let It End, Light Up, Show Me The Way,