James Vincent Young, US Rock Musician
Guitarist, songwriter and vocalist for the band Styx, James Young was born 14 November, 1949 in Chicago, Illinois, a neighbor to future bandmates Dennis DeYoung, John Panozzo and Chuck Panozzo. He was middle child, with two older sisters and two younger brothers.
Known to friends and bandmates as JY, Young has been known for his rocking, uninhibited personality on stage and his very heavy metal-ish playing and songwriting. This on-stage persona, combined with his imposing 6'2" frame make him seem like quite a rough customer, an image that is at odds with the quiet, introspective man who is the real James Young offstage. In the heyday of Styx, Young was the diplomat and peacemaker of the band, often running interference between the uncompromising Dennis DeYoung and the hotheaded Tommy Shaw.
Young has formal training on piano and clarinet, he started out playing piano at age five. He began playing lead guitar in his teen years because he enjoyed the sound and feel. Young and his brother Rick were in a band called the Catalinas in Chicago together.
He got a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and worked in a band called TW4 with DeYoung, the Panozzos and guitarist John Curulewski. In 1972, that band changed its name to Styx and started releasing albums on the Wooden Nickel label.
Young plays a Fender Stratocaster and does not use a lot of effects, apart from a custom distortion box. He has co-written songs with Dennis DeYoung and Tommy Shaw, and worked quite often in composing keyboard parts with DeYoung. He seems quite fluent in composition and music theory for his genre. He cites Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Albert King as musical influences and inspirations.
n 1984, Styx broke up, and Young released his first solo effort, City Slicker. Critical reviews were mixed and my correspondants tell me it was relatively forgettable, if solid.
n 1990, Young reunited with Styx and created the Edge of the Century album, before going on hiatus again. JY then created the James Young Band and made two albums, Out on a Day Pass (1994) and Raised by Wolves (1995). Styx has since reunited yet again and Young remains an important part of that band.
Styxworld online: www.styxworld.com
the Grand Illusion (Styx site) online: www.thegrandillusion.com
Guitar Player Magazine, July 1981.
Allmusic.com biography at http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:g9d0ylojxpmb~T1