Dennis DeYoung

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Dennis DeYoung
Dennis DeYoung in 2014.JPG
Dennis DeYoung performing on August 25, 2014
Background information
Born (1947-02-18) February 18, 1947 (age 75)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
Years active1961–present

Dennis DeYoung (born February 18, 1947)[1] is an American musician, singer, songwriter and record producer. He was a founding member of the rock band Styx, and served as its primary lead vocalist and keyboardist from 1972 until 1999. DeYoung was the band's most prolific and successful writer, having been credited as the writer of more Styx songs than any other band member. DeYoung penned seven of the band's eight Billboard top 10 singles as well as a solo top 10 single.

Life and career[edit]

1947–1970: Early life[edit]

Dennis DeYoung was born in Chicago, Illinois, United States,[1] to parents Maurice and Loraine DeYoung. Growing up in the Roseland area of Chicago, DeYoung started his career as an accordionist in 1962 at the age of 15 when he teamed up with his 13-year-old neighbors Chuck and John Panozzo in a three-piece combo originally called The Tradewinds.[1] The trio added guitarist Tom Nardini in 1964 and renamed the band TW4.[1] In 1968, Nardin was replaced by John Curulewski and in 1970 DeYoung hired James Young to become the second guitarist in TW4. The band changed the name to Styx in 1972,[1] upon signing their first record contract.

Before the band met with success, DeYoung spent time as a school teacher in the Southern suburbs of Chicago, where he was a music teacher in District 143. One teacher hosted dinner parties for co-workers; DeYoung always attended. He had crazy hair and would inevitably offer to play the piano, entertaining all for hours. During this period, the band played a number of small venues and school auditoriums in an effort to secure a record deal.

DeYoung met his sweetheart Suzanne when he was 17 and she was 15 at a high school dance. They married in 1970.

1972–1984: Tenure with Styx[edit]

Within Styx, DeYoung acted as lead vocalist, keyboardist, accordion player, producer and songwriter. From the start of Styx's commercial success with the 1973 DeYoung-penned single "Lady", DeYoung became the creative force behind most of the band's hit songs. DeYoung wrote and sang lead on seven of the band's eight top 10 Billboard Hot 100-ranked hits during this period, with Tommy Shaw's "Too Much Time on My Hands" (No. 9) being the sole exception. The seven DeYoung penned-and-performed top 10 Billboard hits, in order of their peak chart placement are:

  • "Babe", the band's only Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit to date. Also hit No. 1 on Radio and Records chart.
  • "Mr. Roboto" (No. 3 Billboard, No. 3 R & R)
  • "Show Me the Way" (No. 3 Billboard, No. 7 R & R)
  • "The Best of Times" (No. 3 and No. 1 R & R)
  • "Don't Let It End" (No. 6 Billboard, No. 3 R & R)
  • "Lady", the band's 1973 breakthrough hit (No. 6 in March 1975 Billboard and No. 7 R & R)
  • "Come Sail Away" (No. 8 Billboard, No. 9 R & R)

A self-taught pianist, DeYoung quickly became one of the most notable keyboard players in rock. Featured on the cover of the January 1981 issue of Contemporary Keyboard magazine (a story that was reprinted in Contemporary Keyboard's book on the greatest rock keyboardists), DeYoung described many of his steps along the way through his keyboard-playing career: He had never played an acoustic piano until the recording session for 1973's "Lady"; he recorded the track for 1979's "Babe" on a Fender Rhodes electric piano, an instrument he had never touched before, at Pumpkin Studios because the studio's grand piano was out of tune; when playing accordion for the song "Boat on the River" from the Cornerstone album, DeYoung discovered how small the keys felt to his fingers after years of playing pianos and Hammond organs.[2]

As a keyboardist in Styx, DeYoung was best remembered for his prominent lead synthesizer solos performed on the Oberheim 4 voice synthesizer that dominated the mix with a unique tone, a key element of the Styx sound. Influenced by the recent release of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's first album, DeYoung – a novice synthesizer player at the time – used a modular Moog to record the keyboard tracks for Styx's debut album in 1972. This album featured a rock version of "Fanfare for the Common Man", more than five years before ELP came up with a similar idea of recording this classical composition as a rock band featuring the synthesizer, that would later become one of ELP's best known recordings.

DeYoung's songs often had a grandiose style to them in the tradition of 1970s theatrical rock, which heavily influenced the group's direction in the late 1970s, culminating in the concept albums Paradise Theatre (1981) and Kilroy Was Here (1983). The dissent of some members in the band during Kilroy brought tensions between the group's members over the future direction of the band, leading to guitarist Tommy Shaw's departure in 1984 to pursue a solo career.

1984–1989: Early solo career[edit]

With Styx in limbo following Shaw's 1984 departure, DeYoung began a solo career of modest success. His first solo album, Desert Moon (1984), generated a top 10 hit, "Desert Moon", and the follow-up single, "Don't Wait for Heroes", cracked the Billboard Top 100 as well.[1] The Desert Moon album was certified gold in Canada in 1984.[3] To date, "Desert Moon" is the only solo single by any Styx member to hit the Billboard Top 10.

DeYoung's solo career continued with Back to the World (1986),[1] which contained the singles "Call Me" and "This Is the Time", which was featured in the soundtrack of Karate Kid II (1986) movie. His third solo album Boomchild (1988) failed to have a hit single,[1] though the video for "Boomchild" received a fair amount of music video airplay.[where?]

After a five-year hiatus; DeYoung and several other members of Styx began discussing a possible reunion in 1989. By December 1989, Styx had unofficially reformed. Tommy Shaw, who joined Damn Yankees in 1988, did not return.

1990–1992: Reuniting with Styx[edit]

In 1990, Styx (minus Tommy Shaw, who was replaced by guitarist/singer-songwriter Glen Burtnik) returned to the studio for the album Edge of the Century (1990). "Show Me the Way", a track written by DeYoung for his son Matthew, received extensive radio play, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (Styx's 8th top 10 single, and 7th written and sung by DeYoung) particularly after a number of radio stations mixed it with voice tracks of members of Congress debating whether or not to send troops to the first Persian Gulf War. This put the group in an exclusive group as one of only a few bands to have a top ten hit single under four different United States Presidents. The group toured extensively before A&M Records (which had just merged with PolyGram Records) dropped the group from its roster in 1992; the group broke up again shortly afterwards.

1993–1995: Venture into acting[edit]

Between stints with Styx, DeYoung was asked to appear in the 20th Anniversary revival tour of the stage musical Jesus Christ Superstar in 1993, including Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson and Irene Cara,[4] appearing in 268 performances as Pontius Pilate. DeYoung was asked to perform by Tony-winning producer Forbes Candlish. Danny Goldberg, former DeYoung manager and head of A&R at Atlantic Records, asked DeYoung to record an album of Broadway standards; the resulting album, 10 on Broadway, was release in 1994. While touring with Jesus Christ Superstar, DeYoung began writing the book and score of a musical of his own based on Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hunchback was first produced in 1997 at the Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville, Tennessee.

1995–1999: Second reunion with Styx[edit]

1995: "Lady '95"[edit]

A&M Records had released the compilation album Styx - Classics, Volume 15, but since A&M did not own the rights to the original recording of "Lady" (which had been released by Wooden Nickel Records through a distribution deal with RCA Records), the track could not be included on the disc. In 1995, DeYoung called Shaw to sing on a new version of "Lady" even though he had not performed on the original. Styx reunited, but without a terminally ill John Panozzo. The band recorded a new version of "Lady," which became the lead track ("Lady '95") of a new compilation album, Styx Greatest Hits, for A&M. Todd Sucherman (uncredited) provided the drum track for the recording session. Panozzo died on July 16, 1996. Sucherman took his place, and in 1996, Styx toured for the first time in four years.

1996–1997: "Return to Paradise" tour[edit]

Styx's 1996 tour, dubbed the "Return to Paradise" tour by the band, proved remarkably successful, and a 2-disc live recording of the show (with three new studio tracks) proved even more so; 1997's Return to Paradise live album, produced by DeYoung, went gold and spawned a top-30 hit on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, the DeYoung-penned "Paradise". With the positive response and a new record label (CMC International), Styx returned to the studio in 1998 and began work on their first studio album in eight years.

1999: Departure from Styx[edit]

DeYoung and his bandmates celebrated the success of 1996's "Return to Paradise" tour, and 1997's "Grand Illusion" tour. In 1998 the band began work on a new album, Brave New World. In January 1998, DeYoung's physical health took a turn for the worse; DeYoung said he was afflicted with a severe case of the flu, and the extremely high fever damaged his eyes, and caused severe sensitivity to light causing heavy fatigue. James Young and Tommy Shaw of Styx suggested booking a tour in support of the Brave New World album. DeYoung asked for six months to recover, Shaw and Young instead replaced him with Canadian rocker Lawrence Gowan in 1999 and went on tour.[5]

After a year-and-a-half of touring under the name "Styx," without any compensation to DeYoung for usage of the name, DeYoung sued his former bandmates, seeking the rights to use the group's name in support of his solo career. The suit was settled in 2001, with the group being allowed to keep the name "Styx" and DeYoung able to use the name in descriptive phrases such as "the music of Styx" or "formerly of Styx" (but not "the voice of Styx"). DeYoung has said that the manner in which Shaw and Young vilified him on VH1's Behind the Music triggered the lawsuit.

Styx has consistently maintained that any chance of a reunion with DeYoung is unlikely. When asked about any possible reunions with DeYoung, James Young of Styx commented on an edition of VH1's Behind the Music television series, "Maybe when they are playing hockey on the river Styx. And maybe not even then." Young also addressed the reunion issue on an episode of VH1's Feuds 2000, noting the possibility of a reunion would only happen "[as] the Eagles said, 'when Hell freezes over'." Bassist Chuck Panozzo, no longer actively touring with Styx due to health problems associated with his HIV-positive status, offered a more hopeful tone to a writer doing a story on the band for; while reflecting on the effect the loss of his fraternal twin brother, John, had on the band, Panozzo noted, "Before any more of us die, I would hope that it could happen. Every year that it doesn't happen is another year that goes by. And if you wait too long, who will care?" However, in a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, Tommy Shaw indicated that he didn't think a reunion was realistic, noting, "We're crazy, but we're not insane."[6]

2000–2019: Post-Styx career[edit]

Dennis DeYoung performing in 2010

In February 2000, DeYoung was approached to perform a concert featuring his many songs from Styx, as well as his solo works and his 1997 stage musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with an orchestra. The show, performed at the Rosemont Theatre near DeYoung's hometown of Chicago, was a family affair for DeYoung. His wife Suzanne and sister-in-law Dawn Marie Feusi sang backup, his daughter Carrie Ann was in charge of publicity, while his son Matthew designed the stage lighting. The concert was well received[7] and formed the basis for a touring version of the show, and eventually a 2004 live album, The Music of Styx - Live with Symphony Orchestra.

Healthy once again, DeYoung returned to touring with a 50-piece orchestra augmented by a five-piece rock band, which included Tommy Dziallo on guitar, Hank Horton on bass, and Kyle Woodring (formerly with John Mellencamp and Deana Carter) on drums, all of whom also played shows with DeYoung with or without the orchestra.

DeYoung made his major motion picture debut in 2005's The Perfect Man, in which he played the lead vocalist in a Styx tribute band.

In August 2006, DeYoung appeared along with Supertramp's Roger Hodgson on Canadian Idol, where he performed with and mentored the contestants.[8]

On April 20, 2006, at the Community Theatre in Morristown, New Jersey, DeYoung took to the stage once again with former Styx guitarist and bassist Glen Burtnik as part of his Lost Treasures concert series. It marked the first time in nearly seven years that the two had appeared together. On his website, DeYoung jokingly dubbed the performances "The Denny and Glenny Show". While on stage, the duo opened with the Beatles classic "We Can Work It Out", and also performed "Watching the World Go By" and "All for Love", songs that were originally written for the unreleased Edge of the Century 2 Styx album.

On September 14 and 15, 2006, DeYoung appeared with Hal Sparks on Celebrity Duets, an American reality television show produced by Simon Cowell. They sang Styx songs "Come Sail Away" and "Mr. Roboto". DeYoung was invited back to perform on Celebrity Duets on September 28, 2006, with finalist Hal Sparks. The pair performed the Styx breakthrough hit "Lady", written by DeYoung in 1973, with DeYoung serenading his wife Suzanne in the audience while Hal did the same for his long-time girlfriend.

In 2007, DEP Records of Canada released DeYoung's stateside 2004 live CD Dennis DeYoung and the Music of Styx Live with Symphony Orchestra, which went on to achieve platinum status.[9] (In Canada 50,000 plus copies sold for a double CD qualifies as platinum.) They also released his DVD The Rock: Symphonic Music of Styx, which went triple platinum.[9] In addition, he appeared on the Canadian reality TV series Star Académie.

On June 19, 2007, DeYoung released in Canada his fifth solo album, One Hundred Years from Now, marking a return to his rock roots. The first single, the title track, was a duet with Québécois singer Éric Lapointe. The single reached number 1 on the Québec Radio Single and Soundscan charts. The album was released in the U.S. on April 14, 2009, with slightly different tracks. One song "I Believe In You" received some airplay on Sirius XM and some local radio stations.

On New Year's Eve 2007, he performed "Mr. Roboto", "Come Sail Away" and many other Styx classics to a large audience at Victoria Park in Niagara Falls, Canada, and millions of viewers via live television on CHCH-TV Channel 11. Following his concert, he did a brief live interview with CHCH-TV's Mat Hayes.

On May 8, 2008, DeYoung's musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame premiered at the Bailiwick Repertory Theatre in Chicago.[10] This production went on to win the Joseph Jefferson Award for best musical in Chicago in 2008.[11]

On September 20, 2008, DeYoung performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame benefit concert for the John Entwistle foundation. The benefit concert was held at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, North Carolina, and featured many other rock and roll musicians. He and his band performed many of Styx's hits.

In November and December 2008, DeYoung was a featured artist on the German Night of the Proms 20-city tour. He joined Robin Gibb, Tears for Fears, 10CC and Kim Wilde on the sold-out tour. He also accompanied Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees on piano performing "How Deep Is Your Love".

On July 12, 2009, DeYoung was honored by his native city Chicago with the "Great Performer of Illinois Award".[12] Following the award ceremony in the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in Chicago, DeYoung and his band performed many of Styx's hits in a free concert.

In 2010, DeYoung formed a new band dedicated to the music of Styx, adding guitarist and lead vocalist August Zadra and bassist-vocalist Craig Carter to join John Blasucci, guitarist Jimmy Leahey, Tom Sharpe (later replaced by Mike Morales), and wife Suzanne DeYoung in performing Styx hits "Renegade", "Blue Collar Man" and others as well as DeYoung's solo works.[13]

On October 21, 2014, a 2CD + DVD and Blu-ray package, Dennis DeYoung... And the Music of Styx Live in Los Angeles, was released in the U.S. via Frontiers Records. The European release date was October 17, 2014.[14] Also on October 21, 2014, a condensed version of this live concert package was broadcast on AXS TV Headliner Club Concert Series.[15] The concert took place at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, California on March 18, 2014.[16]

2020–present: New studio albums[edit]

On May 22, 2020, DeYoung released 26 East, Vol. 1, his seventh solo studio album and first in over a decade. The title comes from the real-life address on the South Side of Chicago which DeYoung grew up in, where he formed the nucleus of what would become Styx.[17] The last song on the record, "To the Good Old Days", features Julian Lennon.

26 East, Vol. 2 was released on June 11, 2021 and is intended to be DeYoung's final album. The album features fellow Chicago natives guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave on a track co-written with Jim Peterik of The Ides of March, formerly of Survivor and 38 Special fame.[18]

On June 5, 2022 Styx was inducted into the Illinois Rock & Roll Museum Hall of Fame. That same night Dennis DeYoung was additionally inducted as a songwriter.[19]

Personal life[edit]

On January 18, 1970, DeYoung married his longtime sweetheart Suzanne Feusi. The couple have two children, daughter Carrie Ann and son Matthew. Suzanne DeYoung frequently joined her husband on the road, and eventually their children came along as well, as a way to provide stability for their family.

DeYoung is an avid fan of the Chicago White Sox and personal friend of former manager, Hall-of-Famer Tony LaRussa.[20]

Solo band personnel[edit]


Studio albums[edit]

with Styx[edit]

Live albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

  • The Ultimate Collection (1999)

Video albums[edit]

  • Caught in the Act (1984)
  • Return to Paradise (1997)
  • Dennis DeYoung – Soundstage (2003)
  • Symphonic Rock Music of Styx (2003)
  • The Best of Styx – 20th Century Masters (2004)
  • The Best of Dennis DeYoung – 20th Century Masters (2005)

Other appearances[edit]

Music written by DeYoung has been featured in the following films:

Music either written by DeYoung or performed by him has been featured in the following stage productions:

  • "Pilate and Jesus", "Pilate's Dream" (Jesus Christ Superstar) (1993) (Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber; Lyrics: Tim Rice)

The debut of musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame in May 2008 in Chicago, Illinois brought finally DeYoung's music and songs to the theatrical stage.

Music written by DeYoung has also been featured in television shows and commercials. Among the more notable are:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 686. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ "Contemporary Keyboard Magazine, '81 - Part 1". January 19, 2001. Archived from the original on January 19, 2001. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  3. ^ "Gold Platinum Database - Desert Moon". Music Canada. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  4. ^ Everett, Todd (May 27, 1993). "Jesus Christ, Superstar". Variety. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  5. ^ Taylor, Lisa (June 2, 2000). "Styx Survives Split". Wall of Sound.
  6. ^ Greene, Andy (July 7, 2011). "Styx: No Reunion With Former Frontman Dennis DeYoung". Rolling Stone.
  7. ^ Everson, John (February 16, 2000). "Dennis DeYoung". The Illinois Entertainer. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  8. ^ Whitaker, Sterling (2007). The Grand Delusion: The Unauthorized True Story of Styx. BookSurge Publishing. p. 356. ISBN 978-1419653537.
  9. ^ a b "Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA): Gold & Platinum - January 2005". April 7, 2012. Archived from the original on April 7, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  10. ^ "Bailiwick Repertory Theatre | the Hunchback of Notre Dame". Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
  11. ^ "The Theater Loop: Chicago Theater News & Reviews". Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  12. ^ "". Archived from the original on August 23, 2021. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  13. ^ Kibler, Kristy (July 3, 2011). "DeYoung gives fans best of times". The Buffalo News.
  14. ^ "Frontiers Music Srl | Record Label". Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  15. ^ "Dennis DeYoung | AXS TV". Archived from the original on October 30, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  16. ^ "Events | El Rey Theatre". Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  17. ^ Ruggiero, Bob. "Dennis DeYoung Goes Back to the Basement Where It All Began". Houston Press. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  18. ^ "Tom Morello Joins Dennis DeYoung On "The Last Guitar Hero" From The Former Styx Singer's Farewell Album". May 11, 2021. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  19. ^ "Hall of Fame | Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66". Road to Rock. Retrieved October 5, 2022.
  20. ^ "Dennis DeYoung official site". Archived from the original on May 5, 2006. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  21. ^ "Dennis DeYoung Announces New Album, '26 East: Volume 1'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  22. ^ "Dennis DeYoung Announces Final Studio Album "26 East, Vol. 2" Due June 11". MelodicRock. Retrieved April 13, 2021.

External links[edit]