Melissa's Story

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Why have I created this website? Because so many of us have wonderful stories about Styx! This band has touched so many lives in meaningful ways. The need to express and share our stories with other fans helps bring us all closer together and appreciate the band even more.

I would like to start things off with my own story...

I first heard "Lady" on the radio in the spring of 1975 and I was instantly hooked on Styx! I was 13 years old and living in the small town of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Growing up in an isolated community in the middle of the wilderness leaves a teenager with very little to do. While my friends were getting into trouble, I chose to immerse myself in art, literature, and music instead. I was particularly fond of "Progressive Rock" and bands like Kansas, Ambrosia, and Yes. I was not part of the popular crowd, and did not care to run with the wild crowd, either, so I isolated myself and discovered that rock music was the only way to go! Discovering Styx changed my life, and saved my life, too!

What was it about Styx that moved me so much? I believe that it was Dennis's voice at first. His voice is so powerful, pure, and precise. He has such perfect control of every note. It absolutely blew me away!

I also believe it was the diversity of their music that kept me insatiable. Dreamy songs like "A Day" and "Mother Nature's Matinee" carried me away to other worlds, while rockers such as "Midnight Ride" and "Rock & Roll Feeling" gave me energy and lifted my spirits.
Tommy on the eve of his 50th Birthday
Salt Lake City, September 2003
By the time Crystal Ball was released, I was a well-established Styx freak and proud of it! Tommy Shaw brought a whole new energy to the band, but I admit I didn't think too much of him at first. I wasn't sure that he would fit in with the Styx "sound". However, by the time the Grand Illusion album was released, that Styx sound had evolved into a fantastic blend of keyboard, guitars, and drums that never failed to delight me! The song "Man in the Wilderness" finally won me over as far as Tommy was concerned, and he became my favorite bandmember. The "glory years" had begun!!! I was so proud of Styx as they progressed from one platinum album to the next!

By this time, I had become a full-fledged loner. I was pudgy, with coke-bottle glasses, few friends, a low GPA, and an even lower self-esteem. Styx became a balm, a place to escape to when classmates and teachers were cruel. My best friend had moved away and the other friends I had were too busy getting high to understand my esteem problems. More than one friend got pregnant, and another one died of a drug overdose. Styx kept me away from all that! By the time I had graduated, I was depressed because my career plans had not worked out. I could not join the Army because I was overweight. I was failing as an adult as surely as I had failed as a teen.

One night, just before Christmas 1979, I was deeply upset and alone in my parents' house. I took one of my father's hand guns and put the Cornerstone album on the turntable. I wanted to say goodbye to my favorite band, and I also wanted Styx to be playing when they found my body. Cornerstone was a new album at the time, and I had not given it the full analysis, so to speak. I was unaware of its power.

When "Lights" started up, a shiver went up my spine. As I listened to Tommy's voice and his words, I realized there was so much hope in that song. "Thank you for caring, but tonight the lights will take me where I long to be...". There was Tommy, a young musician with success and fame ahead of him, and all he wanted was to get out there and play guitar and make people feel good. There I was, a miserable 18 year old with nothing going in her life but a few failed dreams and nothing to live for. It suddenly occurred to me that if I ended my life, there would be one less fan for Tommy to bring joy to. How could I enjoy Styx if I were dead? Tommy's purpose for his life would be moot without his fans. It seemed like such a simple solution, but it worked! The gun was put away and nothing was ever mentioned about it until many years later.

So, you see, if I had chosen a different album or chose no music at all that night, I wouldn't be here, and my son wouldn't be here, and Styx would have one less fan....not that there aren't thousands still around the globe after all these years!(Since meeting other fans, I have heard similar stories of Styx saving lives. The band should be proud that they are keeping people from making such a desperate decision!)

My Styx tattoo, done on JY's 54th birthday, November 2003

By the early 80's, I had begun to travel and saw much of the US, from Memphis to Honolulu and "all points between, high and low"! My loneliness didn't go away, however, so I ended up marrying the first man who ever asked me...a big mistake, but that is another story. The music scene had changed drastically! By the time my son was born in 1986, Styx had broken up, and by then I had become a "Metal Head". I put Styx out of my mind and even gave away all their albums. (Yes, I know I'm a fool, but what can I say?) By the late 80's, we had settled in the Pacific Northwest.

When Damn Yankees arrived on the music scene, I took notice, but something deep inside kept me from a Tommy reunion. Such thoughts were bringing up dark memories of my teen years. I avoided anything to do with Styx, especially during my divorce. I immersed myself in grunge rock instead! Imagine Nirvana and Alice In Chains cheering up a depressed divorcee'!!! I did keep "my eye to the keyhole", however, as Styx reunited and began releasing albums again. I kept my distance, though. How many times did they come through the Portland/Seattle area and I avoided them? (Yes, call me stupid, please!) Unfortunately, there were facts that had escaped my notice....John Panozzo had died, Dennis was ill and had been replaced, Chuck was diagnosed with HIV. So much had changed that I wasn't aware of!

In September 1998, I was at a Metallica concert in Portland and had a shock to my ears! Many bands often play recorded music before their shows start and on this particular day, I heard a very familiar opening strain that chilled my spine..."Light Up"! I stood there and just shook it off, but soon after that, the Volkswagon/Mr. Robotto commercial started up, and I began to hear Styx music on television shows. My nephew Alex lived with me for a while in 2000, and played a lot of Classic Rock, so I was exposed to the old bands of my childhood. It was all starting to chip away at my stubborness!

Finally, in August of 2001, I knew it was time. After 26 years of being a fan, I was finally ready to see them in concert for the very first time! They were going to play at the Clark County Fair in Washington State, just 5 miles from my home! (And on the eve of my 40th birthday, no less!)

I got to the grandstand early and took my seat, proud of the huge crowd the band had attracted. I was very nervous and excited! Then suddenly, the stage lights came on, the crowd cheered, the band ran on stage, and in spite of myself, I screamed out Tommy's name! There he was, the petite, blonde little ball of energy whom I had once loved so much, still looking like a young punk with a mean guitar! His voice was still perfect, solid, and persuasive. And, suddenly, all those years hit me like a Freightliner truck going 90 miles an hour. In spite of myself, I burst into tears. Song after song, through blurred vision, I watched Tommy and JY jam away with the "new guys", and sang until I was hoarse. (I was amazed to discover that I still knew all the words!) I walked away from that concert feeling like a whole new person. A "healing" had taken place!

So, now I am pleased to say that I have renewed my love for Styx and am getting involved in their music once again. While the old songs do bring up the past, they also bring up the beauty and magic that their music had once created for me. I am now getting used to new songs and new bandmembers, and look forward to many more years as a Styx fan as new material is released! I have seen the band in concert many times since that hot August night in 2001, and will go to as many shows as possible!

Also, it is good to know that Dennis is able to perform a solo show on occassion, and I hope to catch his act sometime! I would also love to see his musical production of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". To me, the man is a musical genius who deserves respect, in spite of the controversy surrounding his departure from the band.

So, here I am, in my 40's, a Styx fan once again...and the best thing of all is, I am no longer isolated! I have met so many wonderful Styx fans, both on the internet and in person. You see, there were times in the 70's when I felt I was the only Styx fan in Alaska! Now I am able to share my love for the band with people of all ages all over the world! I have also revived my love for other bands of my youth, particularly Kansas. (Please visit my Kansas site!)

So, now it is your turn! Please send me your special Styx story! We all need to be heard!

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