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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

‘The Grand Illusion’ by Chuck Panozzo (2007) Amacon ISBN 9780814409169

Original Styx bass player Chuck Panozzo tells his life story and also provides a message of hope for all, be they gay or straight, young or old. Styx fans after a detailed band history won’t find it here but you do get some fascinating insights into the bands formative years with the Wooden Nickel label and some insight to the eventual parting of the ways with fellow co-founder Dennis De Young.
The book instead gives a very honest look at Chuck’s life and how he copes with hiding the fact he was gay whilst being in a leading US rock band. Coupled with this he relates how he looked after his brother and Styx drummer John, through the latter’s alcohol problems and untimely death back in 1996 and the passing of his mother (his father had died when Chuck was younger). But the biggest credit has to go to his frank description of his battle with AIDS and how he tried to ignore he was HIV positive until he became really ill. All through the book is the back story of the band Styx and how Chuck drove himself to keep on playing and performing when he was able with the band. He details as well how performing live and meeting the fans kept him going and how now he has ‘come out’ he is a leading campaigner and spokesperson on gay issues.
Of definite interest to fans of the but more importantly it is a moving and rewarding memoir of how he battled and hopefully has overcome AIDS, coupled with making it acceptable to lead the life he chooses as a rock musician in what is a very heterosexual genre.

Jason Ritchie


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