In 1999, Canadian vocalist / keyboardist / guitarist Lawrence Gowan was invited to join U.S.-based rock legends Styx as a permanent band member. The news came as a surprise on many levels. For one thing, Gowan had replaced Dennis DeYoung, considered by many fans to be the The Voice of the band, and the vast majority of those followers were completely oblivious to Gowan’s star status at home. He was a dreaded unknown. Gowan fans, meanwhile, were left wondering how a star of the Canadian ’80s pop rock scene had managed to attract the attention of a band that had been around for 20 over years by that time.
I was one of them. Having grown up with both Styx and Gowan as a teenager, it was an amazing development that blew me away. The fact that Styx had added Gowan’s breakthrough hit ‘A Criminal Mind’ to their setlist was the icing on an already fattening cake. In 2005, I was given the opportunity to interview Gowan for BW&BK (found here), a personal high that fulfilled one of the unplanned items on my bucket list.
The band recently released the Regeneration album, featuring re-recorded versions of Styx favourites (and a Damn Yankees song or two). And while I didn’t have the chance to speak with Gowan or his bandmates, credit where it’s due to my BW&BK colleague Mitch Lafon for a fantastic in-depth chat with Gowan about the record and his career. An excerpt is available below.
By Mitch Lafon
BraveWords.com: Gowan was a staple on Canadian radio and TV in the ‘80s. ‘Moonlight Desires’, ‘A Criminal Mind’ and ‘Strange Animal’ were top hits…
Gowan: “’Moonlight Desires’ was a #1 video. ‘A Criminal Mind’ was #1 in Montreal.”
BraveWords.com: A friend of mine, Sean Kelly, just did a cover of ‘A Criminal Mind’ on his new solo album – Where The Wood Meets The Wire (Universal).”
Gowan: “I heard that. It’s great.”
BraveWords.com: It just goes to show that people still love that song, but how come Gowan didn’t break through in the United States?
Gowan: “I’ll explain that, but it’s a terribly long, drawn out and boring story. So, last year when I did the Return Of The Strange Animal record – I decided to tell the story in cartoon form. The link is: Gowanstrangeanimal.com. What you’re getting at here is the two completely different music businesses that exist today and existed in the ‘80s. Yesterday, Todd came to me with a new artist from Australia that I had never heard called Gotye. I immediately put in on, looked him up on Youtube… There’s the difference today. If somebody came to me back in the ‘80s and said there’s this new Australian band called AC/DC. How can I get their record? I’d have to go to the import section of my local record store or… But today you can access anything from around the world instantly. Everyone now, automatically gets a world wide release because of the Internet, but the way it was in the 1980’s was the polar opposite of that. The record companies decided who got released where and why. A terrific example would be The Jam in England. They’d play Wembley Stadium in England, but you could barely find their records in the United States and that was the same situation for Platinum Blonde and me in Canada. We were signed to CBS records and although we had international deals and out sold some of the biggest international stars (in Canada) – we couldn’t get a guaranteed release in the United States. It seemed like the hurdle just kept moving and moving and moving…” Continue reading BW&BK Interview: STYX Vocalist LAWRENCE GOWAN – Talkin’ ‘Bout My Regeneration