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In 1980, according to Rolling Stone, Styx were voted the most popular rock band in America, despite much derision from critics and serious rock fans. Since they were then at the peak of their career, following up a string of hit albums with the 1981 blockbuster Paradise Theater, this was not farfetched. The group had gotten its start in Chicago in the late '60s, with a style reminiscent of the Moody Blues and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and in 1972 settled on the name Styx, after the river that runs through the underworld in Greek mythology. Eventually they came to favor a power-ballad style, achieving a breakthrough in 1974 when "Lady," a track of their 1973 album Styx II, started getting airplay on Chicago's WLS and became a monster hit. Building on that foundation, the group released several platinum albums and attained stadium-tour status. With 1983's Kilroy Was Here, which featured the new-wavy hit single "Mr. Roboto," the band plunged into the world of concept albums and elaborate theatrical sets for their live performances, and the attendant stress and artistic differences led to the band's hiatus starting in 1984. In 1995, however, their record label wanted to include "Lady" in a greatest-hits compilation but failed to acquire the rights from the band's original label; this led to a reunion of the band to record the song, which in turn spawned a reunion tour. The tour was a huge success, and with occasional personnel changes, the band continues to hit the road every summer. In early 2003 they released a new album, Cyclorama, which includes guest appearances by such artists as John Waite, Billy Bob Thornton and Brian Wilson.

Written by: Mary Eisenhart

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