Reflecting on the demonstrations of the early 1980s when AIDS was killing people on a daily basis, Panozzo wonders what happened to the protest spirit of the gay community. “In the 1960s we stood up and said, ‘Enough!’ In the 1970s we fought vocally for basic human rights. In the 1980s we were screaming because everybody else was ignoring the fact that we were all dying in bulk. Now, from how people are acting, you’d think that we’ve won everything we’ve been fighting for.”
Hoping people will learn from his mistakes, he is vocal on an international level, urging everyone to get tested on a regular basis and bringing attention to various aspects of the virus, especially pediatric AIDS. Panozzo realizes that he has a certain draw with fans and the general public and uses that to get the message out. As of this writing, he is in the middle of a European tour, where Styx is playing 17 gigs in 21 days. Panozzo will be returning to his Wilton Manors home in early July, just in time to get in a little rest before Styx performs at the Hard Rock Café on July 12.
On their current tour they recently played in Munich, where Panozzo was asked to speak about global AIDS and children. His comments will be included with those of various other artists in a book. “I’ve been given the unique opportunity to help make a difference,” he stated previously on the subject. “My music and artistic talents have come full circle which manifested in my involvement with pediatric AIDS. They have given a face and a voice to everyone of goodwill.”
He went on to state: “Being involved in AIDS research and my commitment to Equal Rights for All. It is as important to me as is standing on stage with Styx. I feel that the day I said I would live my life as an openly gay man, the world embraced my being.”
That wasn’t the original response he got from his band mates when he first came out of the closet and acknowledged his HIV-status. However, they have, over time and with a little educating, come to understand the importance of his mission and embrace him and his message.
“Ultimately, my wish is to inspire others — gay and straight alike — to live a proud and just life,” he says. “If I can inspire just one person to follow their bliss, I guarantee it will fill their soul and set their spirit free.”
|Styx Rocker Chuck Panozzo is Back on Top|
|By Michael James|
| The bassist for the rock band Styx, Chuck Panozzo, is back on top with a new album. While continuing his personal fight against HIV/AIDS, he has spent a lot of time in the studio, playing with the band on stage, on the Today show and currently in the middle of the band’s European Tour. But, even with all of his current and past success that shot him and the band into rock stardom, his primary mission is more down to Earth.
With the ability to reach millions of fans he has become a spokesperson for Human Rights Campaign’s HIV/AIDS outreach efforts and has become vocal about the various problems plaguing the gay community.
“I’m surprised about how few people say anything about not only what’s going on in the gay community, but in the community in general,” Panozzo said during a lunch at Hamburger Mary’s on Wilton Drive. “Are we really willing to sit back and let drugs destroy the lives of our family and friends? Are we willing to risk losing everything, ignoring the long-term for the sake of the here and now? People really need to wake up.”
|Chuck Panozzo, bassist and founding member of Styx, performing at a previous performance|