Styx keyboard player passed puck to music

Only serious Styxologists know that Lawrence Gowan, the Chicago-bred rock band’s keyboard player and singer since 1999, grew up in Canada.
His “outs” and “abouts” remain a clue, though.
Which is fairly normal for Canadian singers, musicians, actors and authors. Canada, twice the geographic size of the United States with a population like California’s, is dwarfed by American culture.
Still, it does mean something “for people in the know,” said Gowan, 59, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, a Toronto suburb. “Once they delve into it. That’s one of the funny things. We always recognize other Canadians, though.
“If Jim Carrey comes on TV, I go, ‘Oh, Canadian.’ Michael J. Fox? ‘He’s Canadian.’ Sarah McLachlan. ‘Canadian.’ We’ve had the benefit of a tremendous cross-current of British and American influences.
“Maybe to a greater extreme, the British. Bands that didn’t make it into America still made it in Canada. There’s a greater pool of songwriters we could draw from.’’
Gowan’s a commercial and artistic success in Canada: six top-10 singles; four platinum albums; three gold; 15 Juno Award nominations; two Juno awards; other national recognition; sold-out shows; 15 albums and commanding steady media airplay and solid cyber-space presence.
Of course, “highest scorer in minor-atom hockey playing for Cedar Hill (1967).” That’s a credit listed on his website (
A childhood aspirant to play for the hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, Gowan was overcome by participating in a charity game with Dick Duff, a Hockey Hall of Fame member. That morphed into mortification when No. 9, now 80, was traded by the Leafs to the New York Rangers in 1963 (“How could they do that?)”
In two weeks, Gowan – he’s been married to Jan, a graphic artist, for 30 years and has a son (Terry) and daughter (Jacqueline) – goes “home” for two weeks of shows in Toronto.
Terry, 23, plays piano in Gowan’s Canadian group and drums in Vesperia, a “metal” band. Then it’s back to Styx as part of a 100-show regimen this year.
A singer-songwriter who plays piano, acoustic guitar and keyboards, Gowan values his cross-border career.
“It’s great to be Canadian and part of a great American band,” said Gowan, proud that Toronto’s No. 1 radio station (Boom, 93.7-FM) keeps his music in its airplay rotation. “There’s something different about the Canadian attitude and approach to things.
“It’s part of the charm. It’s an ethereal kind of thing we just have. But with the size of audiences in Canada, we have to find another outlet.”
Hel plays four sold-out April shows in Toronto before sticking with Styx for most of 2016.
“(Tommy) Shaw says every time I do solo shows, I bring something back to the band,” Gowan said. “I don’t know what. Shaved ice? It’s more that, as soon as we come in the door, we take advantage of all our different backgrounds.”
Styx plays Sunday at Stockton’s 2,086-seat Bob Hope Theatre. “Some” tickets remain and will be available at the box office.
Some top – randomly picked – Canadians in pop-rock music:
1. Neil Young
2. Joni Mitchell
3. The Band (all but one)
4. Gordon Lightfoot
5. Arcade Fire
6. Leonard Cohen
7. The Guess Who
8. Rush
9. Bachman-Turner Overdrive
10. Sarah McLachlan

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  • About the Author

    Tony Sauro

    Tony Sauro has been writing feature stories and reporting on entertainment events since 2008. Before that, he helped write, edit and design the editorial pages for five years. Tony edited and wrote for the TimeOut section during its first 10 years ... Full Profile
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