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Rock Star from Styx Comes Out

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Chuck Panozzo, the bass player and founding member of 1970s/1980s rock band Styx, has just published an autobiography in which he reveals he's gay.

The book, titled The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies, and My Life With Styx, traces back his confusion over his sexual identity, along with the years of hiding in the closet. The title is a play on words of a previous Styx band biography, Grand Delusion, which told lots of stories of wretched excess, drugs, sex, groupies, and Styx' rise and fall during those tumultuous decades. I don't believe the previous book mentioned Panozzo's sexual preference.

I worked on a lot of music videos in the 1980s, and I remember one particular singer (I can confess it was the lead for Loverboy) coming in with the director. I initially paid little attention to the guy, because he was completely bald and seemed like an older gent. After the singer left, I asked the director, "who was that guy?" He pointed at the monitor and said, "that's our star," only on the film, the singer had hair down to his shoulders.

I was taken aback, since he had been so completely unrecognizable. The director laughed and explained, "the two things in rock you can't get away with are being gay or being bald."

I raised an eyebrow and responded, "but how about Elton John?"

He told me, "well, there's always exceptions." (Rob Halford of AC/DC was another.)

Still, it's interesting to see that slowly, the public is finding out that more and more rock icons have lives far different than what they suspect, and that gay people were an integral part of the history of rock and pop music over the last 50 years. I hope that more rock and pop stars have the courage to be honest with themselves (and fans), and consider stepping out of the closet.

BTW, the book is here on Amazon:


I look forward to reading it. In fact, I'm mulling over someday tackling a book on "Gay Rock Stars," including the lives of important producers like Brian Epstein (manager of The Beatles) and Bob Crewe (songwriter/producer for The 4 Seasons). Crewe's character in the new Jersey Boys musical is over-the-top gay. It'll be interesting to see how they handle this in the forthcoming movie (said to be in development).

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