20 Years Ago: Lawrence Gowan Plays First Show With Styx
Styx played their first-ever show without founding keyboardist and singer Dennis DeYoung on July 8, 1999. On that day, they introduced his replacement, Lawrence Gowan, at the Grand Palace in Branson, Mo.
The classically trained Gowan came to the band after a successful solo career in his native Canada, where he released six solo albums between 1982 and 1995, including two that went Top 5. He scored 12 Juno nominations, winning twice in 1985. He first met Styx in 1998 when he opened for them in Montreal and Quebec City.
“It’s funny, I’d made an unusual remark to some friends – something about the spirit of the band being more than I had expected," he told the Minot Daily News. "If I was ever in a band, I said, I’d fit with this one.”
A year later, the band acrimoniously parted ways with DeYoung when health reasons prohibited him from touring in support of the 1999 album Brave New World. Guitarist Tommy Shaw sealed the deal by making a call to Gowan, who was shocked by the offer.
“I thought they were going to ask me to open for them," he explained. "But they asked me to join the band. I was knocked out! Here’s this legendary band and they want me to be part of this? You know, I really did think that it was quite an honor, but I honestly also thought – and I am not bragging here – I thought that I could see it working."
"Gowan's a real asset to Styx," James "JY" Young said. "He's brought new energy and excitement to the stage, and I don't think I've had this much fun playing live in many years."
Gowan stayed on well beyond that initial 53-date tour, helping Styx remain active, both in concert and in the studio, where he's recorded three albums with them. He co-wrote most of 2003's Cyclorama and several songs on 2017's The Mission. He also contributed lead vocals to four tracks on 2005's Big Bang Theory, a covers record. And his personal chemistry with the others has allowed them to resist the temptation to reunite with DeYoung.
As Shaw revealed to Dan Rather in 2018, "At this stage in my life, I want to be happy. I want to be around people who love me and that have my best interest at heart, and I don’t have to fight with. There’s just not enough years left that I would want to risk not having that again."
“When I met them, I just liked them,” Gowan told Go Upstate in 2013. “I wanted to do the shows with them, and I just knew that we were musically kind of locked [in]. At first we thought we’d just test it out. But we knew after three shows it was working so well that it was destined to continue.“