40 years ago today -- on January 19th, 1981 -- Styx released their 10th album, Paradise Theatre.
Over the weekend, we caught up with the band's Tommy Shaw via E-mail and he says he "can’t believe it’s been that long. But upon further reflection, yes it certainly has!... We all loved the album title and the fact that it was a real theater in Chicago that closed and was built so well that it bankrupted the company hired to demolish it. So as writers we had a field day."
Asked about the songs, Tommy says, "Dennis [DeYoung] wrote a great iconic ragtime piano opening that would eventually weave into a taste of 'Best of Times,' and then segue into 'Rockin’ the Paradise.' By the time you got to 'Best of Times' on the album, you’d already heard some of it! Brilliant!
"Then came life experience and observation songs keeping it real, beginning with 'Too Much Time on My Hands.' This song came to me during the final day of songwriting and arranging. It was during the last 10 miles of my 60-mile drive from Michigan that the intro started thundering through my brain...
"Then, as I was getting closer, the title popped up, the changes and everything needed to get going. This was still happening in my head as I pulled up to the building. I ran inside and went up to [bassist] Chuck [Panozzo] and showed him the riff and said, 'Play this over and over. Now go down a step, then back…' I called out changes to the other guys and in less time than it’s taken me to type this, 'Too Much Time' was arranged and ready to go."
"Too Much Time on My Hands" and "The Best of Times" were Top 10 hits, catapulting Paradise Theatre to number-one on the Billboard 200-- their only chart topper.
Guitarist James "JY" Young says, "It is an impressive thing. Styx at number-one in 1981 above virtually the greatest array of classic rock artists of all time."
And, he's right. Here's the Top 10 for the week ending April 11th, 1981:
- Styx - Paradise Theatre
- REO Speedwagon - Hi Infidelity
- Rush - Moving Pictures
- Steve Winwood - Arc of a Diver
- Grover Washington Jr. - Winelight
- John Lennon/Yoko Ono - Double Fantasy
- The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta
- The Who - Face Dances
- Eric Clapton - Another Ticket
- Neil Diamond - The Jazz Singer
Tommy Shaw has that chart signed by Pete Townshend, who wrote, "T, The Who're gaining on you."
Styx supported Paradise Theatre with a tour. Shaw says, "We knew it would present great production possibilities. Dennis DeYoung’s love for the theater would really contribute to the look and feel of the tour... It was was like a Broadway production with a Styx concert in the middle. Unforgettable."
Paradise Theatre was Styx's fourth consecutive triple platinum disc.