Sail (and Rock) Away

“Styx made prog rock a little more accessible,” says Styx singer/keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, far right. “I always had great admiration for that [before joining the band].”

Throughout the 1970s, there weren’t many bands whose music topped the charts as consistently as Styx and the Eagles. But other than rabid fan bases, the groups have little in common.

“Both bands are from the classic rock era, but there aren’t a lot of lines you can draw between the two,” says Styx singer/keyboardist Lawrence Gowan.

But two years ago, Styx and the Eagles united when former Eagle and longtime friend Don Felder joined the anthemic rockers for an entire summer tour.

Gowan asked a lot of questions leading up to the opening gig. “How would Styx fans react to a show that included 10 Eagles songs?” he wondered. The verdict was clear: “I got an answer pretty quickly,” he says, “very much in the affirmative.”

Last week, the unlikely match-up reunited for a special five-night run at The Venetian Las Vegas. The Weekly spoke with Gowan before he took the stage for the second night. Song pairings, which included Styx’s majestic prog rock hit “Crystal Ball” followed by the Eagles’ poppy “Take it Easy,” had the sellout crowd on their feet, screaming for more.

“Shockingly enough, it was seamless,” Gowan says. “I think [the encore] alone could’ve been the entire show.”

Even if you think you don’t know Styx, there’s a good chance you’d recognize one of their chart-toppers, whether it’s “Come Sail Away,” the quirky synth-heavy “Mr. Roboto” or the softly lit ballad “Babe.” In the U.S. alone, Styx has peddled over 17.5 million records, and were first to achieve four straight triple-platinum albums.

While Gowan is close to reaching the 20-year mark as a full-time member of Styx, he’s still regarded as the “new guy” – and a great fit for a band that continues to average 100 shows per year. “I try to play them as authentically and sincerely and in-the-moment as I can,” Gowan says. “That has done us well through 2,000 shows as one of the top grossing acts in America now for over 10 years.”

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Whether Styx is performing in Sweden, Japan or the States, Gowan says that when the set reaches “Renegade,” the response is universal. “It’s like everyone is united and has the same smile, same arms waving in the air,” he says. “I really love to take stock of that.”

Cyclorama (2005) was Styx’s last record of new original material, but they do have a lot of unreleased original material in their pocket.

“When we can really focus the time on promoting something new, we will release a new album,” Gowan says. “That could be sooner than later.”

AN EVENING WITH STYX 8pm Wednesday, Jan. 8. Sunset Center, San Carlos at Ninth, Carmel. $51-$130 benefits the Beacon House. 620-2048,

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