Arts & Icons

Fugues - - News Makers -

me to the point of frigh­te­ning me, but on the other hand, it was al­ways there. Es­pe­cial­ly when people cal­led it a gay di­sease. That was ve­ry dif­fi­cult to deal with.

You re­gai­ned your health and re­joi­ned the band in 1999. What was that like for you?

I had a great doc­tor and a great psy­cho­lo­gist, I had good self-es­teem. When I told my doc­tor I was going to re­join the band, he was un­sure. So I made a deal, that if I got sick again, I’d go back home. But that ne­ver hap­pe­ned. Now when I go ons­tage, fans scream my name, “Chuck! Chuck! Chuck!” though af­ter I came out I wor­ried other names might be chan­ted.

Mon­trea­lers and Que­be­cers have a long love af­fair with pro­gres­sive rock and with Styx. The ad­di­tion to Styx in 1999 of Canadian Lau­rence Go­wan – who re­pla­ced Den­nis DeYoung – made us love you guys more. How did the ad­di­tion of Go­wan af­fect the band?

I find him to be one of the most ta­len­ted, crea­tive and in­cre­di­bly gra­cious hu­man beings I have ever met, es­pe­cial­ly in the world of mu­sic. He is al­ways fun­ny, ne­ver whines or com­plains about any­thing. He has brought his ge­nius, his won­der­ful gift, to this band. We played for 14,000 people last night (at the out­door Hollywood Ca­si­no Am­phi­theatre out­side Chi­ca­go), and he hit the stage run­ning. He is such an ho­nest and re­mar­kable per­for­mer.

Do you still speak with Den­nis DeYoung?

We don’t real­ly have any contact.

Your twin bro­ther John pas­sed away in 1996. Has it got­ten ea­sier over the years to deal with his de­par­ture?

John was my first soul mate. We did eve­ry­thing to­ge­ther. He had my back when I was bul­lied in gram­mar school. He was a great per­son, a great drum­mer, and he lo­ved our band more than any­thing. He was a huge in­fluence on (our) mu­sic, he had no pro­blem tel­ling a pro­du­cer or a mem­ber what he real­ly thought. He was al­so ve­ry fun­ny and able to dif­fuse is­sues wi­thin the group if things got too hot. It may not have re­sol­ved the pro­blem, but it would re­solve the mo­ment, the si­tua­tion. We still talk about him eve­ry day. I do think of him, and I am hap­py he re­mains a part of the mu­sic of Styx. It is his le­ga­cy. No one knows what hap­pens to us af­ter we die, but John will live eter­nal­ly in the mu­sic of Styx. This new tour has al­so ree­ner­gi­zed Styx and I think we have brought clas­sic rock in­to the 21st cen­tu­ry.

Any ad­vice for other rock stars – or young as­pi­ring mu­si­cians - out there de­ba­ting whe­ther or not they should come out?

If you’re a kid or tee­na­ger and think you will get thrown out of the house by your pa­rents, I would say don’t come out. Be­cause you don’t want to be ki­cked out on the streets where people will take ad­van­tage of you.

But for anyone over 18 or 21 who can live on their own, the most li­be­ra­ting thing you can ever do is to come out. Don’t wor­ry then about who will re­ject you be­cause those are the people you don’t need in your life.

The minute I came out as a gay man, it set my soul free. It was like a bur­den was lif­ted off of my shoul­ders. I wish I had done it ear­lier. RI­CHARD BURNETT

STYX head­line THE 13TH ANNUAL STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT GA­LA, be­ne­fi­ting the Mi­riam Foun­da­tion, THE WEST IS­LAND WOMAN’S SHELTER, AND CURESMA, at Fair­view Pointe Claire on Au­gust 25. For more in­for­ma­tion and ti­ckets, vi­sit www.stran­ger­sin­the­night.ca for ti­ckets.

READ BURNETT’S NA­TIO­NAL QUEER-IS­SUES COLUMN THREE DOL­LAR BILL ON­LINE AT WWW.BUGSBURNETT.BLOG­SPOT.COM.

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