“You have to be able to survive change and keep your integrity.” Tommy Shaw
American guitarist and vocalist Tommy Shaw is best known for his work with the rock group Styx. During his first tenure with the band (from 1975 to 1983), he contributed to the band's most successful releases such as “The Grand Illusion” (1977), “Pieces of Eight” (1978), “Cornerstone” (1979) and “Paradise Theater” (1981) as well as wrote the US hit singles “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” (#29 US), “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” (#21), “Sing for the Day” (#41), “Renegade” (#16). Shaw left Styx to begin his solo career in 1983. To date, he has released five solo albums, namely “Girls with Guns” (1984), “What If” (1986), “Ambition” (1987), “7 Deadly Zens” (1998) and “The Great Divide” (2011). Shaw has reunited with Styx since 1995. He and James “J.Y.” Young become the only remaining members of Styx from its heyday. In addition to Styx, Shaw also has performed with the supergroup Damn Yankees (1989-1996, 1998-2001) and the duo Shaw Blades (1995, 2007).
On February 22, 2009, Shaw was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Currently, Shaw is married to Jeanne Mason. He previously was married to “Cuppy” Enders and actress Pamela Donnelly, with whom he has a daughter, Hannah Shaw (born 1987).
Childhood and Family:
Tommy Roland Shaw was born on September 11, 1953, in Montgomery, Alabama. He developed a love for music at a young age and played in a number of local bands in his early years. He was educated at Robert E. Lee High School.
Mr. Shaw has been married three times. He married first wife “Cuppy” Enders in 1975, but the couple later divorced. He then married actress Pamela Donnelly on February 15, 1986 and had a daughter, Hannah Shaw, on July 9, 1987. They divorced later on December 22, 1993. He married current wife Jeanne Mason on December 28, 2000.
Girls with Guns
After high school, Tommy Shaw left Montgomery, Alabama to join the Norfolk, Nebraska based rock group The Smoke Ring as guitarist/vocalist. Upon the group disbanded, he and some members of the group continued under the name MSFunk in 1973 and based themselves out of Chicago. He stayed with the band until 1975. Shaw then returned back to Montgomery and played in a local band called Harvest. It was while performing with the band at a bowling alley bar that he got the call to audition for Styx, thanks to his previous experience with MSFunk. Shaw officially joined the band in late 1975, replacing guitarist John Curulewski who abruptly left following Styx's move to A&M. He subsequently embarked on the group's nationwide tour to support the 1975 album “Equinox.”
Shaw's first album with Styx, “Crystal Ball,” was released on October 1, 1976 on A&M Records. It reached No. 66 on the Billboard 200 and went on to be certified gold by the RIAA. The album produced the Top 40 hit “Mademoiselle,” on which Shaw sang the lead vocals and played harmony lead guitar solos with James Young. The song, which Shaw wrote with Dennis DeYoung, peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the band's third top 40 hit. Shaw also wrote the title track, which was released as the second single from the album. The song only peaked at No. 109 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Shaw and his bandmates returned with “The Grand Illusion” (1977), which became Styx' breakthrough album. It peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and went triple platinum in the US, becoming their first record to do so. The album generated the Top 10 hit “Come Sail Away” (1977, #8 US) and the Top 30 hit “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” (1978, #29), which Shaw wrote. The follow up “Pieces of Eight” was released on September 1, 1978. Like its predecessor, the album reached No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and went triple platinum. Shaw wrote and sang lead in all of the three singles from the album. “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” (1978), “Sing for the Day” and “Renegade” (both 1979) respectively reached No. 21, No. 41 and No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The ninth studio album “Cornerstone,” Shaw's fourth album with Styx, was released on October 19, 1979. It rose to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was eventually certified double platinum by the RIAA. The album spawned the No. 1 hit single “Babe,” which reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 8, 1979 and stayed on the post for two weeks. The song also made it to the Top 10 on the UK Single Chart (#6). The second “Why Me” reached No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the third and last single “Borrow Me,” a collaboration song with lyrics by DeYoung and music by Shaw, was a chart disappointment, peaking at No. 61 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Released on January 19, 1981, “Paradise Theater” became the band's first and (to date) only No. 1 hit album on the Billboard 200 and their next triple platinum release. The album featured the Top 10 hit singles “The Best of Times” (#3 US) and “Too Much Time on My Hands” (#9), penned by Shaw. The rock opera/concept album “Kilroy Was Here” followed on February 28, 1983. It reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and was a platinum status in the US. The album produced two Top hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Mr. Roboto” (#3) and “Don't Let It End” (#6). After the Kilroy tour, Shaw departed the band in 1983 to pursue solo career.
Shaw's first solo effort, “Girls with Guns,” was released in October 1984 through A&M records. Produced by Mike Stone, the album peaked at No. 50 on the Billboard 200. The title track reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks and No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song appeared in a first season episode of “Miami Vice” called “Glades.” The second single “Lonely School” charted at No. 66 on the Billboard Hot 100. Shaw followed his debut with “Live in Japan” in 1985 and the second studio album “What If” in 1986. “What If,” which Shaw produced with Richie Cannata, gained somewhat favorable reviews and peaked at No. 87 on the Billboard 200. The single “Remo's Theme (What If?),” which became the theme song for the character Remo Williams in the movie “Remo Williams: The Adventure Continues,” reached No. 18 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks and No. 81 on the Billboard Hot 100. The third effort “Ambition” was released in 1987, with Terry Thomas from the rock band Charlie as producer. The album yielded two hit singles with “No Such Thing,” a No. 41 hit on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, and “Ever Since the World Began,” a No. 75 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. “Ambition” became Shaw's last solo album in over a decade.
In 1989, Shaw formed the hard rock supergroup Damn Yankees along with Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Ted Nugent of The Amboy Dukes and drummer Michael Cartellone. The band released a self titled debut album on February 22, 1990. It peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 and went double platinum in the US. The album generated five singles, including “High Enough,” a No. 3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and a No. 2 hit on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, “Coming of Age,” which reached the No. 1 spot on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, “Come Again” and “Runaway,” both of which made it to the Top 10 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. After the release of the album, Shaw and his bandmates went on a year and a half world tour with a revamped Bad Company, Poison and Jackyl. Damn Yankees' second album, “Don't Tread” (1992) reached No. 22 on the Billboard 200. It featured the Top 20 hit “Where You Goin' Now.” After Ted Nugent's left the band in 1994, Shaw and Blades continued to perform as the duo Shaw Blades. They released an album called “Hallucination” on March 14, 1995 before going on hiatus.
In 1995, Shaw returned to a reunited Styx, and appeared on a subsequent tour with them in the following year. In 1998, Shaw resumed his solo career by releasing the album “7 Deadly Zens” on June 30, 1998 through CMC International. He produced the album with Eddie Ashworth.
“Brave New World,” Shaw's first album with Styx since 1983, was released on June 29, 1999. It peaked at No. 175 on the Billboard 200 and reached the top 10 on the Top Internet Albums chart. It was followed by “Cyclorama” on February 18, 2003. It was the first album following the departure of group co-founder Dennis DeYoung and was the only album released by the Lawrence Gowan/Tommy Shaw/James Young/Glen Burtnik/Todd Sucherman lineup. The band resurfaced in 2005 with “Big Bang Theory,” with new bassist Ricky Phillips. The album peaked at No. 46 on the Billboard 200.
2007 saw the release of the duo Shaw Blades' album, “Influence.” The same year, the duo also embarked on a short tour of America in spring and then in autumn.
Recently, on March 22, 2011, Shaw released a bluegrass solo album titled “The Great Divide” on Pazzo Music. It charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums.
“ As a solo artist, I just felt cemented in front of the mike stand. There was very little time to play with the audience and be a band member.” Tommy Shaw