Tuesday, June 08, 2004

John Curulewski

Who? Well, some of you who lived near Chicago in the 1970's might have heard of him. He was one of the original 2 guitarists with Styx, which stormed out of the south side of Chicago to sell millions of records in the late 70's and early 80's. I'm not sure, but I think he's the genius behind the immortal "Plexiglas Toilet" song that they included without acknowledgement on one of their early albums.

Curulewski was there during the lean local years. He sang, played guitar and wrote some songs, along with fellow guitarist James Young (JY is the tall blondheaded one, who happens to be an engineer). Twins Chuck and John Panozzo played bass and drums respectively, and Dennis DeYoung was the keyboardist who wrote much of the music and sang most of the leads.

Yeah, they had a hit with "Lady", but that didn't come about until a couple of years after its album "Styx II" was released. Mostly they were a Chicago phenomenon, and they recorded on Wooden Nickel records. Good luck finding any of those albums. (Styx, Styx II, The Serpent is Rising, and Man of Miracles).

Then came their 5th album, Equinox. It had hits on the top 40 (Lorelei), AOR (Suite Madame Blue), an anthem (Light Up), and the rest were good too. It got them a national contract, and then Curulewski decided to leave the band to spend more time with his family.

That didn't exactly wreck the band - JC was replaced by Tommy Shaw, a blondeheaded singer/guitarist who the babes seemed to think was just too cute for words.

The band's first album after Curulewski, Crystal Ball, scored no hits. But then they released The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight and suddenly they were everywhere.

Did Curulewski regret missing the ride? We can't ask him - he's dead. Not a musician's death though, from drugs or an accident - he died of a brain aneurysm in 1988.

The rest of the band isn't doing so well either. John Panozzo is dead of alcoholism-related problems, Chuck Panozzo is HIV positive, and Dennis DeYoung has some sort of chronic condition that keeps him from touring much (near as I can tell he's not so easy to get along with either). So only the Mutt and Jeff singer-guitarists are left to carry the banner with some new guys.

Need a Styx fix? Check out Paradise Radio here.

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