by Ross CAT

By Ross Cat.
   INTERVIEW: Lawrence GOWAN…..Astonishing as it may seem, it has been twenty-one years since the release of the award winning album “Strange Animal” from the spirited singer/songwriter. GOWAN spent most of the eighties dominating the Canadian music charts, racking up numerous awards including; Album of the Year (1985,1987), as well as receiving the prestigious Canadian Entertainer of the Year in 1987 with the release of “Great Dirty World”.
    Following his enormous success in the eighties, GOWAN along with many of his contemporaries, would find that the nineties would take the music industry in a whole new direction as grunge would enter the musical mainstream. In an attempt to re-invent himself and his sound GOWAN would step back from his piano, from which he is classically trained, and pick up the acoustic guitar. The theatrics of the 1980’s would be supplanted by a stripped down montage of musicians who would take the GOWAN arrangements both old and new to a new pinnacle. Included in that mix would be the multi-talented PETER FREDETTE, longtime bassist for KIM MITCHELL.
    Over the next decade GOWAN would show great STYX-to-itiveness writing and touring successfully worldwide. In 1997 he would reward fans with his first greatest hits collection releasing “GOWAN, Best Of”, that disc would too be certify Gold. Ironically enough that same year he would find himself opening for STYX on the bands Canadian dates, leaving the band and its faithful floored with a dazzling performance. When classic rockers STYX were ready to embark on a comeback tour in 1999 without DENNIS DE YOUNG they didn’t need a “Crystal Ball” to find their new band mate. Since joining STYX in 1999 Lawrence GOWAN has added to the already potent synergy and shown that he has what it takes to be a “Blue Collar Man”.  His keyboard prowess and vocal passion, especially on classic rock staple “Lady”, are a perfect compliment to TOMMY SHAW and JAMES YOUNG. Looks like these are “The Best of Times”, as 2006 finds STYX touring relentlessly, enjoying the success of their latest release “Big Bang Theory”, a disc full of vintage rock songs done by one of classic rocks best bands.  The band is also working on material for a brand new album of originals.
    To help commemorate the “Strange Animal” anniversary GOWAN will be taking a short break from his duties with STYX to return to the Great White North for a series of concerts that will include shows this Wednesday and Thursday, February 22nd and 23rd at the Centre in the Square in Kitchener, Ontario. GOWAN will be performing the album in its entirety, along with many of his other musical gems, accompanied by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Ticket information can be found at
          I had the pleasure to speak with Lawrence GOWAN while he was preparing for his trip back to CANADA.

  R.Cat.- Congrats on your successes past and present. You’ve been a member of STYX for quite some now, looking back could you have ever imagined that an opening slot for them in 1997 would lead to you becoming a permanent part of the “STYX World”?

  GOWAN- I was fortunate, it some ways I feel I was flat out lucky. After I had opened up for the guys in Montreal they told me backstage that they would like to work with me at some point.  I clearly thought it was going to be in some kind of support capacity, but two years down the road I was asked if I would be interested in taking DENNIS DE YOUNG’S place on the tour, and here we are seven years later.

  R.Cat.- Did you find it difficult stepping into an established band and replacing a longtime contributor like DENNIS DEYOUNG?

  GOWAN- What really made it easy was the guys, they were comfortable in moving in a different direction without DENNIS. That issue being set aside meant we could focus on the tremendous chemistry that we were developing. What most of the audiences are looking for is a great STYX concert experience done as authentically as possible. What we have in common as professionals is that we take great pride in delivering that to our fans. For me I really didn’t have to change my vocal style for what the band needed, I was able to fit into their already solid framework. I really feel very much at home on stage being part of this large production. TOMMY SHAW tells me I was born to be in STYX.

  R.Cat.- The band climbed back in to the Billboard top 50 this past year with the “Big Bang Theory” tell us how that record came together?

  GOWAN- Yeah, that has been great fun playing to audiences and it still has some legs to it.  Really, every writing session we sit and ask ourselves; what is the best and most stimulating thing we can put together for ourselves and our fans? It just so happened at that time we enjoyed jamming some of our favorite songs, it just seemed to be the right thing to do. This past year the band has really hit its stride and we’re more inspired then ever.

    R.Cat.- Let’s get into your visit to Canada this week and talk about the anniversary of the ‘Strange Animal” album. What can fans expect at these shows?

  GOWAN- It really seems unimaginable that it has been that long since I wrote the record.  This won’t be your typical rock show, it will be me on piano accompanied by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. I’ve found that when working my music with an orchestra if flows better in symphonic form. Sometimes the arrangements can get lost within a full band setting.  As you mentioned I will be doing the “Strange Animal” album in it’s entirety along with some other musical gems throughout the night. I’m looking forward to sharing those musical memories with some friends both old and new.

  R. Cat.- Lastly, Lawrence I see on your “Best of GOWAN” disc there is a song entitled “Healing Waters”…For Diana Queen of Hearts” tell us about that?

  GOWAN- It was actually written by myself and ALEX LIFESON of RUSH who was working with me on my 1990 album “Lost Brotherhood”. The funny thing is the song didn’t make the final cut; it was deemed to mellow as the “Brotherhood” record is a bit of a rocker. The song was tucked away in a vault for about eight years until her untimely death. The day after the tragic accident my cousin in England had reminded me of the song and how perfectly the lyrics reflected the feeling of the times. I really only had to change a few lines in the song and off the single went to the U.K. It was a great honor and I was fortunate enough to be able to perform that song with the London Symphony for the Spencer family at the opening of her memorial.
    NIGHTLIFE would like to Thank Mr. Lawrence GOWAN for his valuable time.
    PEARTintent Anatomy…..While Canadian power trio RUSH is still basking in the sweet success of there 30th Anniversary Word Tour DVD: RUSH: R30; drummer NEIL PEART has just released his own DVD called the “ANATOMY of a drum solo”. PEART is not only the pulse that keeps the RUSH heartbeat pounding, he has been the principle songwriter for the band since joining GEDDY LEE and ALEX LIFESON in 1973.
    The DVD is designed for every RUSH fan and concert enthusiast, not just the aspiring drummer or musician. Although PEART has always been the “Working Man” behind the drums never seeking the “Limelight”, this film uncharacteristically opens the door to his private domain both in and out of the studio. The legendary drummer breaks down his musical techniques and talks about his influences and inspirations taking you inside the studio of some of the bands greatest albums and songs. Most importantly, the disc also includes some amazing solo footage both live and in studio as PEART’s expertise is simply mesmerizing as you watch him command the massive kit. RUSH is keeping up with the “Spirit of Radio” as they are currently in the midst of writing a brand new studio album with hopes to have it done by the end of the year.
    CLASS IN SESSION…..The University of Buffalo Center for the Arts continues to carry on the standard of excellence in higher education as they host some of music’s premier performers. Earlier this month the hallowed halls echoed with the erupting sounds of the DEREK TRUCKS BAND. The guitar guru was in town promoting his newest disc “Songlines” which hits stores this Tuesday. Look out for the TRUCKS behind you DMB; this disc is already being called the jam record of the year. TRUCKS whose also a member of the ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND demonstrates that even without the BROTHERS behind him the peach doesn’t fall far from the tree.
    Next lesson on the schedule is the “SUPER COLOSSAL TOUR”, featuring JOE SATRIANI with very special guest ERIC JOHNSON. These two guitar pioneers are sure to raise the room to a fevered pitch. SATRIANI is not only a master guitarist he is a teacher to the professionals. His G-3 guitar summit and tours have sold millions, and he continues to take the guitar instrumental into a new stratosphere. He is touring in support of his upcoming release “Super Colossal”, the album contains 13 new songs and will hit stores on March 14th.
    When ERIC JOHNSON slings his axe he cuts to the core. He too has been a member of the G-3 tour along with SATRIANI, STEVE VAI, and Buffalo born BILLY SHEEHAN on bass. JOHNSON also won himself a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental with the song “Cliff’s of Dover”.
    The show is Monday April 10th tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster or at The Center for the Arts box office on the Amherst campus for $45, $35, and $30 for students. Also check out Center website at for upcoming events.
    PRESS RELEASE…..This months bonus tracks at powered by the fine folks at LK will include, news from WHITESNAKE, as well as some exciting reunion news from progressive rockers ASIA. Check it out and forward to your rock and roll friends. 

****************WEB BONUS TRACKS**********
    SNAKE EYES…..Heavy metal rockers WHITESNAKE are giving fans a double dose of love with the release of “The Definitive Collection” on CD, as well as the bands first ever concert DVD “WHITESNAKE LIVE: In the Still of the Night”.
    Both the CD and the DVD are loaded with the songs that propelled the band to the top during the late eighties and early nineties. The eighteen song disc is all about the love including chart topping hits such as “Here I go Again” which reached #1 on Billboard, as well as the power ballad “Is This Love” which slithered its way up to #2 on the charts.
    While vocalist David Coverdale enjoyed his greatest success with WHITESNAKE he also shed is skin on a few different occasions starting off his career by fronting DEEP PURPLE from 1973 to 1976. He recorded two albums as he stepped in for the departed Ian Gillan. The new concert DVD opens with a rendition of the PURPLE tune “Burn”. While WHITESNAKE charmed fans with their hair band hits and hot video’s they soon would succumb to constant lineup changes. That would lead to an unlikely pairing in 1993 as Coverdale would join forces with LED ZEP guitarist Jimmy Page for a record. The new “Definitive Collection” disc also contains a track from the critically acclaimed COVERDALE/PAGE project called “Pride and Joy”.
    Meanwhile, the concert DVD was recorded from the bands 2004 tour in the U.K. and finds Coverdale and company in fine form. The film contains a fiery performance of all the hits, as the band spits them out like venom, closing out the evening with “Still of the Night”, which stands tall to this day as an arena rock anthem.
    WHITESNAKE will be on the road this summer in the U.K.Fans can also catch David Coverdale on Rockline on March 22nd.
    HEAT OF THE MOMENT…..This year will mark the 25th anniversary for progressive rock supergroup ASIA. The original line-up of all-star musicians are said to be ready to join forces once again to help commemorate this milestone. Although the collaboration of vocalist John Wetton, guitarist Steve Howe (YES), drummer Carl Palmer (ELP) and keyboard phenom Geoff Downes was short lived the music has stood the test of time. All four members have confirmed via their websites that a reunion tour is being discussed along with a new CD and concert DVD for later this year. Currently Wetton and Downes are touring in support of their latest effort entitled “Icon”, while Steve Howe will be doing some solo dates in May.
    As for legendary powerhouse drummer Carl Palmer he is getting ready to hit the road this spring/summer for his first ever solo tour. He will be touring in celebration of the music of EMERSON, LAKE and PALMER with his new power trio. The CARL PALMER BAND will include guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bassist Stuart Clayton and will be making its way across the U.S. and Canada through June. This all instrumental show of the ELP classics is sure to be one of the hottest tix of the summer. The tour will include visits to nearby Hamilton on May 24th, and Toronto on May 26th. Check the PALMER website for ticket information at, also stayed tuned as this “Lucky Man” will be chatting with the drummer extraordinaire prior to the Hamilton show.
    NIGHTLIFE has a little ASIA appetizer for fans that can’t wait for the reunion tour.  Voiceprint Music is a company in the U.K. which offers assorted cuts from classic rockers not available in the states along with current rock news. One of those obscure CD’s we found at this cool site happened to be ASIA: Live in Buffalo, a double disc from the bands first tour in support of their smash debut album it is available for purchase at

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