Gary Loizzo, far left (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)Gary Loizzo, the lead singer of the 1960s pop-rock band The American Breed died Saturday, January 16, at the age of 70. According to a obituary posted by the Illinois funeral home where a serves was being held for him, the cause of death was pancreatic cancer, which Loizzo battled for three years.

The American Breed scored its biggest hit in 1967 with “Bend Me, Shape Me,” which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Chicago-area band also broke into the top 40 with “Step out of Your Mind” in 1967 and “The Green Light” in 1968. The group split up in 1969, and in the early ’70s, Loizzo opened the Pumpkin Studios recording facility in Orlando Park, Illinois.

Through the studio, he established a long relationship with Styx, serving as an engineer on most of the albums the band recorded from the late ’70s until the present day. He also worked on many of former Styx singer keyboardist Dennis DeYoung‘s solo albums.

In addition, Loizzo was the “front of house” engineer for Styx’s live show for much of the past 20 years. Longtime Styx drummer Todd Sucherman has penned a tribute to Gary that he posted on his official Facebook page.

“He was a man of exceptional taste, wonderful musicianship, eagle sharp ears, but most of all he was a shining example as how to conduct yourself as a man, a professional, a husband and father,” writes Sucherman. “In 20 years I never saw him lose his cool or raise his voice to anyone, and believe me, the road can be frustrating at times. He just made everyone feel good. He was a magical person and I know everyone in our organization feels they are a better human being having had the privilege to work along his side.”

Loizzo is survived by his wife, Diane, and four children — sons Todd, Vince and Doug, and daughter Dawn Knoebel.

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