Styx Founder Dennis DeYoung Talks About His Influences, Rock Radio and Singing with South Dakota Symphony
Styx founder Dennis DeYoung still calls Chicago home, still is a die-hard White Sox fan and has a great sense of humor. And in case you were wondering, he can still sing great! DeYoung will show off his vocal prowess and likely his sense of humor, when he brings his solo band to the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls this Saturday night at 7:30.
I’ve been a fan of Styx since the first time I saw them at the Minnesota State Fair back in the 1970s. I’ve seen them a handful of times over the past four decades both with and without DeYoung, but I’ve never gotten the opportunity to see him solo or the chance to talk to him until today.
DeYoung and Styx had a not-do-great parting in the late 90s in part because of his diagnosis of a chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness caused by a bad flu that caused him to almost be allergic to bright lights. I thought it best to start by asking him about his health so we could put everyone’s mind at ease. He decided to put any rumors to rest by belting out part of Styx’ first radio hit, “Lady”
DeYoung will play with the South Dakota Symphony this Saturday night (click here for tickets!) but it’s far from something new for him as he started on this path shortly after leaving Styx on the suggestion from a promoter in Chicago:
I asked Dennis to tell me about the earliest days of Styx when he and his neighbors, John and Chuck Panazzo, formed the framework of the band when they were literally still kids:
DeYoung is 67 now and like a large portion of musicians from his generation, he and the Panazzo’s were heavily influenced by seeing the Beatles play Ed Sullivan:
DeYoung has a soft spot for South Dakota that dates back to the early 1970s as the band played several shows in Rapid City in the early days as they had one of the first radio stations in the country to actually play Styx.
DeYoung fondly remembers some of those early shows in Rapid City and who they shared the bill with. A couple of bands you’ll probably recognize.
I think every artist I’ve ever talked to remembers that first time they heard a song that they wrote or sang on the radio. DeYoung is no different.
As a DJ, I wanted to know if DeYoung ever got a chance to get to know Smith or have a chance to tell him the story and what it meant to him and the band.
As a performer who has been in the business for over 40 years, DeYoung is saddened by what’s happened to rock radio across the country because of a couple of radio ownership groups that dominate the major markets, so he asked me a question:
DeYoung told me that people who come to the show Saturday night are going to hear so many of their favorite Styx songs like ‘Lady’, ‘Babe’, ‘Best of Times’, ‘Come Sail Away’, ‘Don’t Let It End’, ‘Mr. Roboto’, ‘Show Me The Way’, ‘Renegade’, ‘Blue Collar Man’ and many more, plus likely even a solo hit or two like ‘Desert Moon’, so I wanted to know what his favorite song to sing is:
Tickets are still available at the Washington Pavilion box office for $35-$75.