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Styx’s James “J.Y.” Young on When He Was Introduced To The Guitar

All guitarists have their own portals into playing. In the case of Styx’s James “J.Y.” Young, it started with the piano and age five and then moved to clarinet, which he played from the age of eight through high school.

The guitar, meanwhile, was introduced by another family member:

“At Age 14 an uncle of mine bought a classical guitar and no one in the family had ever owned a guitar that I knew of. I was really charmed by the smell of it and the way it sounded. Everything about it really sort of enchanted me. And I always credited him.”


Young started out in the band TW4 while studying mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, then co-founded Styx during 1972 in Chicago. He’s the only original member still playing full-time with the group.


Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.