For original Styx bassist Chuck Panozzo, the journey has been worth every moment of adversity. Panozzo, who founded the band with sibling John and neighbor Dennis DeYoung more than 50 years ago, has seen Styx breakup and reform, even as he struggled with his sexuality — and then began battling HIV.
Though only a part-time performer now, Panozzo remains keeper of the flame — the only member of Styx who was there for its initial incarnation as a neighborhood group on the southside of Chicago called the Tradewinds. It would be 1970 before the early lineup of Styx was complete with the additions of John Curulewski and James “J.Y.” Young.
“In 1962, my twin brother and I started this little band in our basement,” Panozzo says, in a video talk below. “We were 14 years old, and our first performance was on New Year’s Eve. Ten years later, I was teaching high school when we signed a record deal. So, it’s a pretty amazing journey — and the journey continues. Once you sign a record deal, everybody thinks you have it made. That’s just the beginning. Then you have to prove yourself.”
Tommy Shaw replaced Curulewski in 1976, John Panozzo died in 1996 and then Dennis DeYoung departed in 1999. The current lineup includes Young, Shaw, drummer Todd Sucherman, vocalist Lawrence Gowan and bassist Ricky Phillips, who still appear with Panozzo on select dates.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Panozzo adds. “I love to come out with the band, as much as I can. They’re great players and entertainers — and they have great spirit.”