Kilroy Was Here (album)

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Kilroy Was Here
Styx - Kilroy Was Here.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 22, 1983[1][2]
StudioPumpkin Studios, Oak Lawn, Illinois
GenrePop rock
Styx chronology
Paradise Theatre
Kilroy Was Here
Caught in the Act
Singles from Kilroy Was Here
  1. "Mr. Roboto"
    Released: February 1983 (US) [3]
  2. "Don't Let It End"
    Released: April 1983 (US) [4]
  3. "High Time"
    Released: August 1983 (US) [5]
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2.5/5 stars [6]
Rolling Stone2/5 stars [7]

Kilroy Was Here is the eleventh studio album by the American rock band Styx, released on February 22, 1983. A concept album and rock opera about a world where rock music is outlawed, it is named after a famous World War II graffiti tag "Kilroy was here". It was the final album of original material to be released by the "classic" lineup of Dennis DeYoung, Tommy Shaw, James "J.Y." Young, John Panozzo, and Chuck Panozzo.

The album spawned two hit singles, the synth-pop "Mr. Roboto" which later became one of their signature songs, and the power ballad "Don't Let It End". Both of them were major hits in 1983, peaking at #3 and #6 respectively, on the US Billboard Hot 100.

The hard rocker "Heavy Metal Poisoning", fifth track on the album, begins with the backmasked Latin words "annuit cœptis, novus ordo seclorum".[8] Translated from the Latin, these words mean "[they] have favored our undertakings,[9] a new order of the ages".[10][11] These are the two mottoes from the Great Seal of the United States on the reverse side of the United States one-dollar bill.

The album is certified platinum by the RIAA.[12] As of 2021, it is the last studio album by the band to be certified platinum.


The band created the album Kilroy Was Here partly to mockingly respond to Christian groups and other anti-rock-music activists who had previously influenced the Arkansas State Senate to pass a bill requiring that all records containing backward masking be labeled as such by the manufacturer. Cited in the legislation were albums by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Electric Light Orchestra, Queen, and Styx.[8] ELO similarly responded with their own 1983 album Secret Messages.

The album's somewhat rock-operatic story tells of a future where a fascist and theocratic government and the "MMM (the Majority for Musical Morality)" have outlawed rock music. The story's protagonist, Robert Orin Charles Kilroy (DeYoung), is a former rock star who has been imprisoned by MMM leader Dr. Everett Righteous (Young).[13] He escapes using a disguise (according to the album's famous song "Mr. Roboto") when he becomes aware that a young musician, Jonathan Chance (Shaw), is on a mission to bring rock music back.

Vocalist and keyboardist Dennis DeYoung conceived Kilroy Was Here as an album and accompanying stage show, which opened with a short film of the same name. According to the episode of Behind the Music featuring Styx, the early part of the supporting tour was a financial disaster, due to the fact that Styx had booked small, theater-sized venues for a more intimate experience, while later tour dates saw the group performing in large arenas to sold-out crowds. The album debuted at #10 on the Billboard 200 in its first week and sold over 1 million copies (although some sources say 2.5 million copies) and peaked at #3 on the US charts; however, it broke the streak of multi-platinum albums for Styx, and ushered in a more keyboard-oriented, theatrical direction. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, James Young talked about the creative differences in the band, and what led to their breakup: "Dennis really wanted to do these soft, intimate love ballads, and that was against the grain for me and Tommy Shaw, so our differences got magnified, because Dennis was insisting on going outside the boundaries we lived with. He's an assertive and strongly opinionated guy."[14]

Despite the album's financial and chart success, after the Kilroy tour, the songs were not performed live by the band Styx (who fired DeYoung in 1999) in subsequent tours (with the exception of segments from "Mr. Roboto" and "Heavy Metal Poisoning" performed in the "Cyclo-medley"), until "Mr. Roboto" reappeared in full (in their encore) on May 30, 2018.[15] DeYoung does perform the songs "Mr. Roboto" and "Don't Let It End" regularly during his solo tours. The James Young Group performed "Heavy Metal Poisoning" and "Double Life" as well on their tour in 1993.[16]

Music video[edit]

Three of the four videos for the album—"Mr. Roboto", "Don't Let It End", and "Heavy Metal Poisoning"—were filmed at the same time and used footage from the minifilm. A fourth video, "Haven't We Been Here Before", was filmed a few months after the album was released; it did not interact with the album's story.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Mr. Roboto"DeYoungDeYoung5:28
2."Cold War"ShawShaw4:27
3."Don't Let It End"DeYoungDeYoung4:56
4."High Time"DeYoungDeYoung4:33
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
5."Heavy Metal Poisoning"YoungYoung4:57
6."Just Get Through This Night"ShawShaw6:06
7."Double Life"YoungYoung3:46
8."Haven't We Been Here Before"ShawShaw4:06
9."Don't Let It End" (Reprise)DeYoungShaw, DeYoung2:22



Additional personnel[edit]


  • Arranged & produced by Styx
  • Engineers: Gary Loizzo, Will Rascati, Rob Kingsland
  • Apprentice engineer: Jim Popko
  • Mastering by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, NYC



Chart Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[17] 45
USA (Billboard 200) 3

Singles - Billboard (United States)

Year Single Chart Position
1983 "Don't Let It End" Adult Contemporary 13
Pop Singles 6
"High Time" 48
"Mr. Roboto" Pop Singles 3
Mainstream Rock 3


  1. ^ Robinson (Syndicated Columnist), Lisa (1983-02-04). "Rock Music". St. Petersburg Independent. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  2. ^ On A&M "Feb. 22, 2012 A&M releases: Styx - Kilroy Was Here (1983)". Facebook. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Styx singles".
  4. ^ "Styx singles".
  5. ^ "Styx singles".
  6. ^ DeGagne, Mike. Styx: Kilroy Was Here at AllMusic. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  7. ^ "Kilroy Was Here".
  8. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (1983-03-27). "Serious issues underlie a new album from Styx". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
  9. ^ MacArthur, John D. (2016). "Annuit Coeptis - Origin and Meaning of the Motto Above the Eye of Providence on the Great Seal". Latin Mottoes. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
  10. ^ MacArthur, John D. (2016). "Novus Ordo Seclorum - Origin and Meaning of the Motto on the Foundation of the Unfinished Pyramid on the Great Seal". Latin Mottoes. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
  11. ^ "The Great Seal of the United States," U.S. Dept. of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., July 2003, p. 5. PDF of official brochure.
  12. ^ Recording Industry Association of America. "Gold and Platinum Searchable Database". RIAA. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  13. ^ Holden, Stephen (March 27, 1983). "Serious Issues Underlie a New Album From Styx". The New York Times. p. 27. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  14. ^ "Styx interview".
  15. ^ "Styx Concert Setlist at FivePoint Amphitheatre".
  16. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 299. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

External links[edit]