Craig Allen’s Fun Facts: “Come Sail Away” by Styx
Its Rock 'N' Roll with a biblical message...and its not from the "Jesus Christ Superstar" soundtrack.
Styx formed in the Chicago suburbs in 1972. Well...kind of. It had a history before that.
In the mid 1960's, twin brothers Chuck Panozzo (bass guitar) and John Panozzo (drums) got together with their neighbor, Dennis DeYoung (vocals and keyboards). Tom Nardini would join, making the band a quartet.
They settled on the name "Tradewinds." But, that became TW4 (There Were 4), when another band hit the national charts with the Trade Winds name.
TW4 would play the bars and party gigs at Chicago State College, as several of the guys were studying to be....teachers!
Nardini would leave the band in 1969, and college friend John Curulewski would join on guitar. Guitrist James "J.Y." Young would join in 1970....making TW4 a band of...5!
Back to 1972...after being spotted by a talent scout, the guys signed a recording deal with "Wooden Nickel Records."
At this point it was decided that a new name would be a good idea...and according to Dennis DeYoung, "Styx" was chosen, as it was the only suggestion that "none of us hated."
Lets "sail" forward in time...to 1977...and Styx's 7th album!
"The Grand Illusion" came out on July 7, 1977......7/7/77!
The album went triple platinum (each platinum designation =1 million album sales)...fueled in part by "Come Sail Away."
"Come Sail Away" would rise all the way to #8 on the Hot 100 chart in early 1978.
Dennis DeYoung would pen this massive radio hit.
It contains an illusion (a Grand Illusion, perhaps?) to the Bible verse of Ezekiel chapter 1: 1-28, where a large wheel or cloud appeared before Ezekiel giving him instructions from God: "A gathering of angels appeared above my head. They sang to me this song of hope, and this is what they said...(and later in the song)...I thought that they were angels, but to my surprise, they climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies."
An interesting FUN Fact about Dennis DeYoung, years after "Come Sail Away."
In 1993, he took on the role of Pontius Pilate in the Broadway production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." Look at my opening remarks at the top of this article...
While the song remained popular on rock radio through the 1980's and into the 1990's...it was Cartman that brought "Come Sail Away" a new fan base!
On "South Park" in 1999, Cartman would feel compelled to sing the song...and did it so often that "his" version became part of a South Park soundtrack album! And, yes, from time to time, I will mention on New Jersey 101.5 that I just had a "Cartman" moment...
Styx performed "Come Sail Away" during the halftime show of Superbowl XXXV in Tampa...with swashbucklers sailing into the stadium, as Styx played to the stadium (and worldwide) crowd!
Styx would break up and reform several times throughout the 1980's and 1990's...and members would come and go.
Styx has a "Jersey Connection" as Glenn Burtnick joined Styx twice...providing guitar and vocal skills from 1990 through 1992, and from 1999 through 2003!
"Jersey's Favorite Hits" indeed!
Styx remains active on the concert scene...joining the likes of Foreigner and Def Leppard over the last few years...to name just a few of....Jersey's Favorite Bands!