Lawrence Gowan

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Lawrence Gowan
Gowan performing with Styx in 2008
Gowan performing with Styx in 2008
Background information
Birth nameLawrence Gowan
Also known asGowan, Larry Gowan aka Larry
Born (1956-11-22) 22 November 1956 (age 66)
Glasgow, Scotland
OriginScarborough, Ontario
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
  • guitar
Years active1974–present

Lawrence Henry Gowan (born 22 November 1956) is a Scottish born Canadian singer and keyboardist. He was born in Glasgow [1] and raised in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, Ontario. Gowan has been both a solo artist and lead vocalist and keyboardist of the band Styx[2] since May 1999.[3] His musical style is usually classified in the categories of pop and progressive rock.


At the age of 19, he earned an ARCT in classical piano performance from The Royal Conservatory of Music, in Toronto, Ontario.[4] Upon graduation, he enjoyed modest local success with the band Rhinegold in 1976.[5][6]

After the band broke up five years later, Gowan began a solo career under the stage name Gowan, releasing his first album under that name in 1982, which was produced by Rob Freeman[7] and featured Kim Mitchell of Max Webster on guitar. This album contained the singles "Victory", "Give In" and "Keep Up the Fight".

After his 1982 debut album Gowan did not fare well, Gowan "found himself naturally gravitating" to the Queen Street West music scene that was developing in Toronto in the mid 1980s.[8][9] Still signed to Columbia Records, the label agreed to fund his next album.[8] Gowan spent a year writing songs, and also travelled to Scotland and Ireland to trace his heritage.[8][10] While there, he received a telephone call from English record producer David Tickle, who said he would produce the album[10] and arranged a recording session. Tickle secured the services of several session musicians from the backing band of Peter Gabriel for the recording session, including bassist Tony Levin, drummer Jerry Marotta, and guitarist David Rhodes.[8] The album Strange Animal was recorded at Startling Studios owned by Ringo Starr.[10] Gowan's 1985 album Strange Animal was his commercial breakthrough in Canada. The album spawned the hit singles "A Criminal Mind", "(You're a) Strange Animal", "Guerilla Soldier" and "Cosmetics".[6] That year he won a CASBY Award for most promising male artist.[11]

His 1987 follow up Great Dirty World gave him another hit single with "Moonlight Desires", featuring Jon Anderson (from Yes) on backing vocals,[12] as well as "Dedication".

Lawrence Gowan in 2006 at a Styx show.

Although he was very successful in Canada, all three of Gowan's albums had been issued in the US to virtually no attention, and he was dropped by Columbia Records. 1990's Lost Brotherhood, recorded at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, Ontario, had a harder rock sound, and featured such players as Red Rider member Ken Greer, former Coney Hatch guitarist Steve Shelski and Rush's Alex Lifeson. It produced the singles "Lost Brotherhood", "All the Lovers in the World", and "Out of a Deeper Hunger". This was Gowan's first album for Anthem Records.[13]

A few bars from "The Dragon" can be heard playing on a car radio in the 1990 movie "Navy Seals" and appears on the original motion picture soundtrack.

He released the more acoustic ...But You Can Call Me Larry in 1993 under his full name, returning to the Canadian pop charts with "When There's Time for Love", "Soul's Road" and "Dancing on My Own Ground". International success was not forthcoming, though, and Anthem dropped Gowan from their roster. He subsequently released The Good Catches Up independently in 1995, which featured the single "Guns and God", which received moderate airplay in Canada. Also that same year, Gowan was part of an all-star lineup at Toronto's Massey Hall to celebrate Ronnie Hawkins' 60th birthday, as documented on the album Let It Rock, sharing the stage with veteran rockers Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and The Band. In 1997, Gowan released two live CDs: Sololive – No Kilt Tonight containing a rendition of Ragtime's classic "King Chanticleer Rag", and Au Québec with a cover of Harmonium's "Pour un instant" as well as his first composition in French, "Stéphanie", for his fan base in Quebec.

In 1997, Gowan released "Healing Waters" as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales after her death.[14] "Healing Waters" was initially an unreleased song from Gowan, though it was used in its original form in the 1995 Jeff Wincott movie, When the Bullet Hits the Bone.

In 1998, Gowan was the recipient of the National Achievement Award at the annual SOCAN Awards in Toronto.[15]

His song "A Criminal Mind" was covered in 2005 by Canadian hip-hop artist Maestro; Gowan appears in the video and his vocals are sampled on the track.[16] The song was also covered by Canadian gypsy jazz music group The Lost Fingers.[17] The song was sampled in a song performed by Akon and Freck Billionaire.

He also guest-starred on the Canadian animated comedy series Chilly Beach.

In February 2006, Gowan did four orchestra-accompanied concerts in London, Ontario and Kitchener, Ontario. Also in 2006, his home was featured on MTV's Cribs.

In March 2010, Gowan released "Return of the Strange Animal", a remastered version of 1985's "Strange Animal" plus a making-of documentary and music videos on DVD.[18] In May 2010, Gowan performed two solo shows in support of the 25th anniversary of the "Strange Animal" album.

In May 2012, Gowan re-issued a remastered version of 1987's "Great Dirty World".[19][20]

As of 2012, Gowan was recording a new solo album which he hoped to have completed sometime in 2013, but has yet to be released.[20]

Gowan acquired the master tapes to his catalogue from CBS Records International in the 2010s, and assigned them to Linus Entertainment under the True North Records label.[21]

On 11 October 2012, Gowan appeared on episode 29 of John Wants Answers.[22]

On 13 October 2013, Gowan played a solo concert, titled 'In Kilt Tonight' at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. All proceeds were donated to McDermott House Canada, a charitable organization.[23]


In 1997, during Styx's tour, Gowan performed as a supporting act for Styx at Montreal's Molson Centre and Quebec City's Colisée.[6]

Tommy Shaw admired his talent and vibrant stage charisma, and called him in May 1999 asking him to tour with them for 53 dates, temporarily replacing their lead singer Dennis DeYoung who was ill. Eventually Gowan permanently replaced the lead singer. Since then, Gowan's classic hit, "A Criminal Mind", is often played by Styx.[6]

Styx had long been plagued by differences in artistic inclination. DeYoung's absence created an opportunity for a more permanent restructuring of Styx. Gowan subsequently became the band's permanent vocalist.[24]

Styx's 2003 album Cyclorama was Gowan's first studio album with the band. Gowan sings two songs on Cyclorama, "Fields of the Brave" and "More Love for the Money", both of which have an easily recognizable Gowan signature. He then continued recording with Styx for their 2005 album, Big Bang Theory.

Gowan continues with Styx to the present and is featured on many live releases from the band. The band released studio recordings of older Styx songs with the new line-up, titled Regeneration (released in two volumes in 2010 and 2011), and Gowan sings lead vocals on several tracks that were originally recorded by Dennis DeYoung.

In May 2017, Styx announced their new album The Mission and revealed the first single "Gone, Gone, Gone" featuring Gowan on lead vocals. On the album, Gowan also does lead vocals for "The Greater Good", "Time May Bend", and "The Outpost". He also composed an instrumental piece that he told the other band members doesn't have a name yet. He was playing it for his dad one time, and he asked Larry what the name was, and he said it doesn't have a name yet, and when he looked down he saw a picture of the ship that his dad was in when he was in the royal navy in World War II and the name of the ship was Khedive which meant Egyptian ruler. He said it was a fitting name so he gave it that name, and decided to release it on The Mission.

Awards and nominations[edit]

The following are Gowan's Juno nominations:[25]

  • 1983 – Nominated – "Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year"
  • 1985 – Winner – "Best Video" for "A Criminal Mind" with director Rob Quartly animation and direction by Greg Duffell / Lightbox Studios Inc.[26]
  • 1985 – Winner – "Best Album Graphics" for Strange Animal (awarded to designers Rob MacIntyre and Dimo Safari)[26]
  • 1985 – Nominated – "Male Vocalist of the Year"
  • 1985 – Nominated – "Album of the Year" for Strange Animal
  • 1985 – Nominated – "Best Selling Single" for "A Criminal Mind"
  • 1985 – Nominated – "Best Video" for "You're a Strange Animal" animation by Greg Duffell / Lightbox Studios Inc.
  • 1986 – Nominated – "Best Video" for "Cosmetics" (director: Rob Quartly)
  • 1987 – Nominated – "Male Vocalist of the Year"
  • 1987 – Nominated – "Album of the Year" for Great Dirty World
  • 1987 – Nominated – "Canadian Entertainer of the Year"
  • 1991 – Nominated – "Male Vocalist of the Year"

In 1995, Gowan was presented with the SOCAN award for songs that have won major airplay in 1995 for his song, "Dancing on My Own Ground".[27]

On 16 November 1998, Gowan received the National Achievement Award from the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN).[28]

In 2003, Gowan was presented with the SOCAN award (along with three other musicians) for songs that have surpassed the 100,000 radio-airplay mark for his song, "Moonlight Desires".[29]

In 2011, Gowan was presented with a star on the Scarborough Walk of Fame – Entertainment.[30]

In 2013, Gowan announced he was recording a new studio album, complete with new original material. The album is apparently in production in downtown Toronto at a private studio. According to Gowan, the album is based on an old concept album by Rhinegold, which was written and conceived in the mid-1970s, during their rounds of the Toronto club scene.

In 2018, Gowan's song "A Criminal Mind" was certified as a Platinum Single in Canada, surpassing a combined 80,000 physical 7" and digital downloaded units sold.[21] Gowan was presented with the plaque on stage at his show in Windsor, Ontario at The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor .


  • Lawrence Gowan – lead vocals, keyboards, guitar
  • Danny J. Ricardo – guitar (2010–2014)
  • Ricky Tillo – guitar (2016)
  • Bob McAlpine- guitar (2017)
  • Pete Nunn – keyboards (2010–2013)
  • Emm Gryner – keyboards, backing vocals (2014)
  • Ryan Bovaird – keyboards (2016)
  • Terry Gowan – bass, backing vocals
  • Todd Sucherman – drums, percussion
  • Taylor Mills – backing vocals (2010–2012)
  • Divine Brown – backing vocals (2016)
  • SATE (Saidah Baba Talibah) – backing vocals (2017)

Personal life[edit]

Gowan is married to Jan Gowan[31] and has two children.[32][33]


Solo albums[edit]

Title Release Peak chart
Gowan 1982 82
Strange Animal 1985 5
Great Dirty World 1987 4
Lost Brotherhood 1990 26
...But You Can Call Me Larry 1993 60
The Good Catches Up 1995

Live albums[edit]

  • Solo Live: No Kilt Tonight (1996)
  • Gowan au Québec (1997)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Best of... (1997)
  • Home Field (1998)[34]


  • Gowan Live in Concert (2006)

with Styx[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

Solo singles[edit]

Title Release Peak chart positions Album

"Keep Up the Fight" 1982 Gowan
"Make It Alone"
"A Criminal Mind" 1985 5 14 Strange Animal
"(You're a) Strange Animal" 15
"Guerilla Soldier" 24
"Cosmetics" 41
"Moonlight Desires" 1987 10 2 Great Dirty World
"Awake the Giant" 36
"Living in the Golden Age" 78
"All the Lovers in the World" 1990 6 6 Lost Brotherhood
"Lost Brotherhood" 44
"Out of a Deeper Hunger" 36 17
"When There's Time (For Love)" 1993 6 11 ...but you can call me Larry
"Dancing on My Own Ground" 1994 15 17
"Soul's Road" 13 15
"Your Stone Walls" 46
"Heart of Gold" 1995 88 46 Borrowed Tunes: A Tribute to Neil Young
"I'll Be There in a Minute" 41 The Good Catches Up
"Guns and God" 14 20
"Laura" 1996 33
"The Good Catches Up" 18 21
"Get It While You Can" 1997 21
"Healing Waters" 13 Best of...
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart.


  1. ^ gowangirl (22 December 2008), LAWRENCE GOWAN ~ BEST OF GOWAN PROMO APPEARANCE!!, retrieved 22 June 2019[dead YouTube link]
  2. ^ Closterman, Chuck (March 2005). "Ship of Dreams". Spin. 21 (3): 63–67.
  3. ^ Darr, Deanna (5 August 2011). "Styx ready to crack Sturgis rally's 'secret code'". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  4. ^ "Gowan takes to the Styx; Scarborough native reinvents himself as prog-rock singer and keyboardist". Toronto Star. 12 October 2000.
  5. ^ Krewen, Nick (1 November 1995). "Still rockin' : but Lawrence Gowan calls his own shots now". Waterloo Region Record.
  6. ^ a b c d Law, John (30 December 2009). "Gowan going strong as Styx frontman". The London Free Press.
  7. ^ "Sound Business: Studio Track". Billboard. 3 April 1982. p. 54.
  8. ^ a b c d Griffin 1985.
  9. ^ LeBlanc 1994.
  10. ^ a b c Sharp 2014, p. 146.
  11. ^ Kirk LaPointe (11 May 1985). "CASBY Awards: The people speak". Billboard. pp. 74–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  12. ^ Chambers, Stuart (2002). Yes: An Endless Dream of '70S, '80s and '90s Rock Music. General Story. p. 91. ISBN 1894263472.
  13. ^ InMusic (3–10): 20. 1990. {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ Krewen, Nick (7 November 1997). "Gowan's Healing Waters now a tribute to Diana". Waterloo Region Record.
  15. ^ 1998 SOCAN awards
  16. ^ Spalding, Derek (25 June 2009). "Reinvented Wes plays Nanaimo Saturday". Nanaimo Daily News.
  17. ^ Wilton, Lisa (27 January 2011). "The Lost Fingers knuckle down for hits". Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  18. ^ Houle, Nicolas (12 March 2011). "Gowan: le retour de l'étrange animal". Le Soleil (in French). Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  19. ^ Go, Justin (7 December 2010). "Styx singer Lawrence Gowan is still a strange animal". National Post.
  20. ^ a b Stevenson, Jane (10 July 2012). "Gowan just keeps on goin': Between fronting for Styx and a revived solo career, rocker stays busy". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  21. ^ a b "Gowan's 'Criminal Mind' Now Certified Platinum". Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  22. ^ Tamaki, Stacie (11 October 2012). "Hilarity ensues in an interview with Lawrence Gowan". The Flirty Blog. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  23. ^ Graham, Sandy. "Gowan – One Kilt One Name". Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  24. ^ Iwasaki, Scott (12 May 2000). "Styx bringing its progressive rock to town". Deseret News.
  25. ^ "Gowan Juno Summary". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  26. ^ a b Loewen, David. "Artist: Gowan, Lawrence". Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  27. ^ "SOCAN Awards honor songwriters". Waterloo Region Record. 16 November 1995.
  28. ^ LeBlanc, Larry (5 December 1998). "SOCAN show marked by politics". Billboard. Vol. 110, no. 49.
  29. ^ Ricciuto, Tony (1 October 2008). "Success of Styx no grand illusion". Niagara Falls Review.
  30. ^ "Lawrence Gowan". Scarborough Walk of Fame. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  31. ^ Reaney, James (23 April 2016). "'Well-rounded' show excites Emm Gryner". The London Free Press. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  32. ^ Kay, Lorraine (23 August 2004). "Lorraine Kay Interviews James Young from Styx". The AV Online Magazine. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  33. ^ Sauro, Tony (17 March 2016). "Styx keyboard player passed puck to music". San Joaquin County Entertainment. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  34. ^ Chronis, Grigoris (23 September 2004). "Gowan – Home Field (CD)". Metal Temple. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  35. ^ Canada Top Singles peaks RPM magazine
  36. ^ Canada Adult Contemporary peaks RPM magazine

External links[edit]