The Grand Illusion Review
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This powerful, inspiring read, packed with humor and insight, is extremely difficult to put down. Chuck Panozzo is the bass player for Styx, the well-renowned rock and roll band founded by Chuck and his brother, Mike, back in the ‘70s. But even if you’re not a Styx fan, even if you’ve never even heard of Styx, The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies, and My Life with Styx is guaranteed to draw you in.

This incredible journey begins in the mid 1950s, on the South Side of Chicago, where the twin brothers, Chuck and Mike Panozzo, grew up. Their love of music was inspired by their great-uncles from Italy and nurtured by one family musician, Uncle Tony, who taught them both to play. With Mike on drums and Chuck on bass, the brothers Panozzo made for a powerful rhythm section.

From early on, Chuck struggled with a terrible sense of not fitting in, and playing music created a comfortable niche for him to express his creativity and escape his feelings of isolation. The first band the brothers formed played wedding music, but it eventually evolved (from the sound advice of a nun at a school dance) to their first rock band, TW4. TW4 ultimately emerged into Styx, signed with A&M Records, went platinum, and made rock and roll history.

There’s more than a lion’s share of hardship along the way. Chuck struggles to come to terms with his sexuality, and he cares for his sick mother and strongly supports his brother, Mike, who eventually loses a battle with alcoholism. He faces a diagnosis of AIDS and bravely navigates a long, difficult journey back to wellness, becoming a strong advocate for awareness, prevention, and treatment of the disease.

In the hands of the wrong narrator, this story has excellent potential to be depressing as hell. Most remarkably, however, rather than dragging you down, it manages to impart an enriching message of strength, hope, and self-acceptance. The Grand Illusion is an honest, brave, engaging memoir that’s certain to touch, in some way, absolutely anyone who’s willing to come along for the ride.

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