Tuesday, September 20, 2005
JOHN PANOZZO-September 20, 1949
Something really cool happened 56 years ago. A set of pretty damn cool twins were born. Crazy little italian boys who had no idea how they would changed the world. One of them is 56 years old today, one of them isn't here any more & that's the worst thing of all. He would've been 56 today along with his brother , but we're here to talk about why one particular part of this twin set was so incredible- Why no one seems to acknowledge what he did & what he left behind- why no one cares to remember him properly & why his legacy is being destroyed by a fluff drummer, who seems to have no clue in preserving his music. It's his birthday & I'm still mad, because I can't forget any of this!
Not that I want to get into any crap on his birthday, a day that should be celebrated. For John Panozzo was the Greatest!! We're all lucky he [& Chuck] was born at all. Otherwise there would be no STYX, or any of the poseurs who followed! While drummers in any & all bands are considered to be the backbone of the band or the lowest of the line of musicians who stand in a band, whether they write or sing the music or not, they add something to a song that not a guitarist, singer, keyboardist, horn player, producer or songwriter could ever have imagined placing in a song. It's not like we get told what to do in a song, that's virtually impossible unless you're a drummer or you feel what is possibly going on with a certain song you'd need a certain beat for.
What John Panozzo did not only for Styx but for the world of drumming is beyond belief. How no one else realizes his Genius baffles me. For some strange-very ridiculous reason, he was only on the cover of Modern Drummer ONCE ! [a drum magazine that used to be cool]. Did they have any better drummers to talk to ? Maybe , but come on-1972-1995? That magazine has been around for what? 50 years?? Maybe longer than that? Or less! I lost count believe me [I guess it doesn't look like I'll ever get interviewed by them after this!]. Just their 1st 5 albums alone need 20 interviews right there. He had an amazing smooth way of playing- for a guy. If ladys care about this, there was something about his drumming that no other male drummer can really say they have- Class. At least this is what I saw as a drummer trying to find an inspiring drummer who wasn't playing like a maniac & just trying to bang so that hey could be heard. As crazy as was, as soft as he may have sounded, the particular methods he used in all the Styx songs from STYX 1 to Edge Of The Century were copied by virtually every drummer that came after him after he found them useless. For example, they have a fantastic song called 'Born For Adventure' [from the genius of Equinox] which is beyond sick in itself for being just about 'women , whisky & sin..., the ending is very funny. If you know any about drumming [for drummers only] & what drumming used to be & what drumming has become lately! [pause!...] you'll know that he -in all the songs he's played in his career- never ended a song like that. But every other idiot who came after him ended every song in the world like that-AFTER !! [I told this to my little girl & she thought that was hilarious!] But it's true! Every one in the world made their living playing like John Panozzo! [I can't even begin to talk about what a genius his brother Chuck also is on bass without making a whole other blog of him alone-but I will say this- they're related!!!] He rarely played shuffles but could do it better than anyone, he rarely did drum solos but did them better than anyone, he had a giant set but it was not for show-he used everything had onstage [including-if you've ever seen the Paradise Theatre videos- some extremely huge Orchestra bells that are only used for classical musicians & in certain churches. He had them to his right. Very cool.]
John Panozzo was something very special. When he passed on July 16, 1996. It was not a day I wanted to remember. There were tributes- but not enough-in my mind & as I search the web for the tributes that were shared at the time for this... are now all gone. Not a trace of what this man left behind except his music. The music that he didn't write much of - but for what he did to those Styx songs would not be anything if it weren't for the Panozzos! I found a few very beautiful things, but it's not what John Bonham has, or Keith Moon, Buddy Rich, Tito Puente or any of those who left us & John Panozzo should be remembered as such!- a Legend because that is exactly what he is. This band might be known for what 2 ballads? When all they're other songs rocked?? They're never going to be remembered for the progressive rock band that they started to be & still were when they made their Kilroy Was Here album. Only later did they do just a few concept albums but that was what made Styx exciting-adventurous & really damn good! As good as any other band on the planet! [except Queen!!]
John smiled when he played, which is extremely rare for any drummer-he made it look easy-when it's NOT!! He seemed to love every second he was up there. He never hid away under a huge batch of drums & cymbals, you could always see him, which was important. He had a huge set but he was never hidden behind a head of long metal hair & believe it or not he was always well dressed for a drummer. He had class all the way. I don't know if there's a Drummer's Hall of Fame but there should be & he should be in it. All I know is that I miss him like hell & there will never be another drummer in the world like him.
God knows his old band should've ended as well, but they kept going for no good reason whatsoever. No good reason I saw. Now his music-his classics- are being played with not so much as an inch of feeling that they used to have. They sound worn out & tired like they never should have sounded & that's a shame. All they needed to do was change the band's name because it's not the same, it'll never be the same & for that they have ruined their chance not only to get in the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame but also the chance for them to be really remembered....for John & Chuck to be remembered as one of the Greatest Bass & Drum duos of ALL TIME!-to be remembered for being the 1st band to have 4 Quadruple Platinum albums in a row!!-to be remembered as one of the greatest Live Bands of All- time! To be remembered as one of the greatest Progressive rock bands of All-Time!! For them to get the respect hey deserved all those years ago. That they should've gotten when their 1st album came out! Styx will always be a Classic band that ended in 1996 when we lost John Panozzo. What you're seeing now is Damn Yankees with a Cool Canadian!
I thought my life ended when his did. Everything went downhill after that & not coincidentally either. Music got bad, the world got bad, bands got really bad with horrible drummers [I don't what the hell that's about but that's another blog!], I got bad, Dennis was right about Mr. Roboto taking over the world:computer-wise, & literally predicted their demise in the song Earl of Roseland [I can see Charlie on the porch-Johnny clicking his sticks and two boys I don't even know -rehearsing electric string tricks] but I'll tell you , I found a few very cool musicians who are now my family & have convinced me that we can keep this man alive! As long as we play him right! The way he should be played! & That's what WNTDTYR is set out to do!
'So Happy Birthday Johnny wherever you may be, I hope you're happy & not sick at what the band's doing to your drumming. I wish you were here to kick the guy's ass, like you're still doing. I miss you more than you'll ever know. I hope I didn't blab too much on your birthday because I didn't wanna do that. I wish I'd told you what a Genius you were when met you & I thought you were adorable as a blond! I wished we'd hung out with Chuck & you guys could've told me how the hell you played Earl Of Roseland without fainting! You were the best, you still are the best & I hope somehow I can live up to your legacy, because you were the only guy drummer I really cared about! You do have some followers that have lived up to your greatness & I promise I'll make sure no one ever forgets you!'