Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1956, Lawrence was raised in Scarborough, the eastern part of the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As Lawrence said, “My marks in high-school were of a caliber that left me no option but to pursue the occupation of Rockstar.” He trained in classical piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and after graduating in 1976, he spent five years playing in his local band “Rhinegold”. After the band broke up, he did short stints with the cover band “FUNN”, and as keyboard player for Ronnie Hawkins.
The level of interest and standard of performance I put into my school work seemed to indicate that a future vocation as a rock musician would be my best chance of salvation. In fact, words to that effect were stated emphatically on numerous report cards.
In 1974 at age 17, I passed the rigid security check at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and by 1976 had achieved an ARCT in classical piano performance. Playing piano and learning as many different musical styles for that instrument saturated my life. I developed a strong interest for playing ragtime and experimented with numerous influences for my earliest rock compositions. I spent my days practicing and writing and spent almost every night playing piano in clubs for anyone who’d listen. My first band “Rhinegold”, a progressive-theatrical-rock group, played the bars in Canada from 1976 to 1980. Those years were a total party. (right up until the day the party ended with the parting of all parties involved)
In the aftermath I once again went back down into my parents basement, but this time with my focus on a solo project. Several months later, I emerged pale and hungry, but more importantly, with a set of tunes that attracted the interest of some music-industry-big-shots at CBS records. We signed a deal and released my first solo effort: “Gowan”. I was grateful to finally be an official “recording artist”.
In 1984 my second album “Strange Animal” was recorded at Tittenhurst Park in Ascot England. “Tittenhurst” was Ringo Starr’s home at that time and in the late 1960’s and early 70’s it was John Lennon’s home. (Historically significant because this is where he wrote and recorded the “Imagine” album.)
“Strange Animal” was well promoted and received extensive air-play which resulted in triple platinum success in 1985. The music-videos for “A Criminal Mind” and “You’re A Strange Animal” were nominated (and won) a Juno Award-( the Canadian equivalent of the Nobel Prize… except that they celebrate rock music videos.) Our tours were very successful and abundantly attended by 80’s-clad-rainbow-haired-enthusiasts-galore.
In 1987 the album “Great Dirty World” was released and it’s first single “Moonlight Desires” reached the Number 1 music-video spot. That video was filmed at the Mayan pyramids in Teotihuacan Mexico and featured a guest vocal performance from Jon Anderson of “Yes”. The gloriously mullet-headed 1980’s brought 4 Platinum album awards, 1 gold single for “A Criminal Mind”, and a Gold album for “Lost Brotherhood”. Released in 1990, the “Lost Brotherhood” album featured Alex Lifeson of ‘Rush’ on guitar.
Although I’m a piano player by trade, the 1990’s brought a rediscovery of my affection for acoustic guitar which lead to a string of hits and also the reintroduction of my first name on the “Lawrence Gowan…But You Can Call Me Larry” album. That record reached Gold and featured three top ten songs: “When There’s Time For Love”, “Dancing On My Own Ground” and “Souls’ Road”. “The Good Catches Up” album followed in 1995. Also in ’95 I played a live concert along with Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jeff Healey and “The Band” to celebrate Ronnie Hawkins 60th birthday. The recording of that show went Gold. During the 90’s decade there were releases of a “Gowan Best Of…” compilation, a Live solo piano recording “No Kilt Tonight” and a second Live album “Au Quebec” which featured two songs en français.
I toured with the UN in Egypt, Israel and war-torn Bosnia in 1996. In 1998, accompanied by the BBC National Orchestra I gave a performance of an original piece called “Healing Waters” at the opening of Princess Diana’s memorial at her home in Althorp England. I opened for “The Stranglers” throughout the UK and played a series of solo/orchestral shows across Canada for the remainder of that year.
In 1999 I received the National Achievement Award in Canada from the performing rights society SOCAN. Also in that same year an unexpected phone call changed the course of my solo career: The legendary band of Americans: “Styx” invited me to join their unending mission of “Global Rock Mega-tainment” and with a thirst for new adventures I climbed aboard.
Now into my 13th year with Styx, we have savagely toured throughout North America, the United Kingdom, Japan and Europe playing well over 1300 shows. As a member of Styx we’ve recorded four studio albums and three live dvd’s. Since 2001 we’ve been among the highest grossing acts in the USA, played twice at the Superbowl and toured alongside the greatest acts of the Classic Rock era. On two recordings (cd and dvd) Styx have released live versions of “A Criminal Mind”.
In 2010, to mark the 25th anniversary of Strange Animal, I returned briefly to my solo incarnation and played a few Gowan shows. The success of that venture prompted me to play five more solo shows in 2011. Between tours with Styx, more Gowan dates are in place for 2012.
By the Toronto Borough of Scarborough, Ontario Canada, on May 12th 2011, I was awarded a star on their “Walk Of Fame”. I’m hopeful that this honor remains in place for some time to come and that by the grace of the Great Gods of Rock this tale will be continued…