110-Date Styx Tour a Winner; Now Comes Time for Vacation

Plays to Million Persons

110-Date Styx Tour a Winner; Now Comes Time for Vacation

By Cary Darling

Los Angeles-With a 110-date North American tour just concluding, Styx seems to be one of the few acts on the road that has something to cheer about. The group is claiming to have played to more than one million persons with an average of 99.1% capacity at each show. Still, this may be the last America sees of the band for a long time.

“We’re not going to tour for a while and see what happens”, says manager Derek Sutton. “We’re going to pay some attention to the economy, the changes that are being made in the halls and auditoriums and the changes that are going to come about in radio. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

“It may be that arena rock is dying. That’s a definite possibility. I don’t think it will ever die in major urban centers for major attractions but for those in the future who are coming along, it’s going to be difficult. Styx won’t be touring at all in North American in 1982.”

The band concluded its most recent American tour Friday (4) in Buffalo. Later this year, it heads for Europe then to Japan in early 1982. Sutton admits it is the most expensive tour the band has done. “For instance, we did two shows in Toronto and barely broke even. At a date in New York, we did $190,000 in ticket sales but we lost $5,000. It’s becoming almost impossible to make money on the road with a big traveling show.” He says.

Without the tour though, Sutton feels that perhaps as many as one millions copies of “Paradise Theatre”, the band’s latest A&M album, may not have been sold. “It’s hard to judge,” he admits. “But most acts are suffering a 30% slump in sales. Based on the 3 million sales of last year’s “Cornerstone” album, our expectations for this album would have to be two million. Now, we’re at 2.9 million and rising. By the end of the year, the album should be at 3.2 million. So, we have added 1 million in album sales because of the tour. On the other side, someone would say that we sold 3 million last year with 70 dates and only 3 million this year with 110 dates so the tour didn’t help at all. But I believe the tour helps sales.”

Styx chose so many dates on this tour because of the early days. “This is nowhere near the largest tour we’ve ever done,” says Sutton. “But the band wanted to go back to every place where it could go back to where the audience put it where it is today. If you forget that your roots are in small town America, then small town American will forget you.”

Ticket prices on the tour varied from market to market with the average coming to $10.50. Sutton used the ploy of scheduling as many dates as possible in a market to thwart scalpers. “There is no way to stop people from spending whatever they want for a commodity. There are 4,000 years of written history which prove that price controls and wage controls don’t work. The only way to catch the scalper with his pants down is to put on an extra show occasionally and unexpectedly,” reasons Sutton.

“We had people in Toronto trying to sell $11.50 tickets for $6 on the day of the first show. This only puts the small fry out of business. The big guys will always be there. All the people who want to stop scalping in rock n’ roll are the same people who want to buy their Superbowl tickets when they want them.”

Sutton admits there was competition between Styx and REO Speedwagon in both album sales and concert attendance since both were on the road and fighting it out at the top of the charts simultaneously. “It was difficult for Styx to accept that after three triple platinum albums, and a fourth one coming along, that REO would keep them out of the top slot for as long as it did,” he states. “Obviously, REO produced an album that hit the chord of public need. Yet, there is rivalry just as there is rivalry between brothers. It’s no more than the rivalry which existed at one time between Styx and Cheap Trick.”

One of the concepts the band will be studying in its hiatus is video though Sutton is still wary of the medium. Styx has always shied away from television. “What does video have to offer in terms of excitement of a live concert? I believe that tv, to a large extent, is a trivializer. It’s impossible to put what we do on a 50 by 60 stage onto a 19 inch diagonal screen,” he states.

Warner Amex and cable alter his opinion somewhat. “One of the things we’ll watch next year is whether Warner Amex is as big as it could be. It’s a big shot in the dark,” he comments “They have a tremendous amount of courage to do it as well as they are doing it rather than test marketing it in a few areas first.

“The effect they have depends on how quickly they get into major market homes. They’re not in Manhattan, Lost Angeles or downtown Chicago. Another question is how many families have splitter boxes so that mom and dad can watch what they want in the living room and the kids can watch MTV in their room. We have the capabilities within the organization to produce video if we want. If we ever do a tv project, it would have to be under our creative control.”


Source Billboard, September 5, 1981
Member Dennis DeYoung , James "JY" Young, Tommy Shaw, Chuck Panozzo, John Panozzo

from Laurie Muffler
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