Early Years (1963-1972):
“Growing up in the Roseland neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, DeYoung’s career as a vocalist started in 1963 at the age of 16 when he teamed up with his 15 year old neighbors, Chuck and John Panozzo, in a three-piece combo. The trio later added guitarist James Young and John Curulewski to form the band Tradewinds in the late 1960s. The band renamed itself TW4 in 1968 before becoming Styx in 1970.” WK
“Before the band met with success, DeYoung spent time as an elementary school teacher in the southern suburbs of Chicago, where he taught music at Springfield School in Midlothian, Illinois. During this period, the band played a number of small venues and school auditoriums refining their craft.” WK
The Wooden Nickel Years (1972-1974):
Styx released four studio albums with the Wooden Nickel. They got their big break when Lady was picked up by a radio station in 1974, more than a year after its parent album, Styx II, was released. The song became a top-ten hit and launched the band. DeYoung, a self-taught keyboardist, served as the lead vocalist and songwriter and creative force behind the band.
The Rise of Styx (1975-1977):
Styx was signed to the major label A&M. They released Equinox in 1975, Crystal Ball in 1976, and The Grand Illusion in 1977. The latter album was a top-10, multi-platinum seller, fueled by another DeYoung-helmed top-ten hit Come Sail Away.
The Giants of Rock and Roll (1977-1983):
The Grand Illusion was Styx’s first of four consecutive top-10, multi-platinum albums – a feat never accomplished before. They led the way in what has been called arena rock or corporate rock. The band landed its first #1 hit in 1979 with Babe, another song written and sung by DeYoung.
Their 1981 Paradise Theater became the band’s first #1 album. Once again, it was DeYoung out front for the #3 hit The Best of Times from that album. On the follow-up, Kilroy Was Here, DeYoung gave the band two more top-10 hits with Mr. Roboto and Don’t Let It End.
The Solo Years (1984-1989):
“With Styx in limbo following [bandmate Tommy] Shaw’s 1984 departure, DeYoung began a solo career of modest success. His first solo album, Desert Moon, generated a top 10 hit, Desert Moon, and the follow-up single, Don’t Wait for Heroes, cracked the Billboard Top 40 as well.” WK
DeYoung made two more solo albums in the ‘80s featuring gems such as Call Me, This Is the Time, and Harry’s Hands, but none of his songs or albums would be as successful as his first solo album, much less his work with Styx.
Styx Reunites (1990-1992):
“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. 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…particularly after a number of radio stations mixed it with voice tracks of parents headed off to fight in the first Persian Gulf War. This success made the band one of only a handful of bands/artists to have a top ten single under four different Presidents in the United States. The group toured North America extensively before A&M Records…dropped the group from its roster in 1992; the group broke up again shortly afterwards.” WK
DDY on the Theater Stage (1992-1995):
“In 1993, DeYoung, a devout Roman Catholic, joined a touring revival of the stage musical Jesus Christ Superstar. He appeared in about 200 performances across North America as Pontius Pilate. The experience inspired him to record his 1994 album of Broadway standards, 10 on Broadway, and to begin work on a musical of his own based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Styx, Together Again (1995-1999):
“Styx reunited once more in 1995, this time including Shaw but minus a terminally ill John Panozzo (who died a short time later in July 1996), and recorded a new version of the DeYoung-penned ‘Lady’ for their 1995 Styx Greatest Hits album. The group toured in 1996 and 1997, and returned to the recording studio in 1998 to begin work on Brave New World, their first studio album in nearly a decade.” WK
“Creative differences between the band members, and a chronic fatigue syndrome-like disorder affecting DeYoung’s trigeminal nerve – which left him overly sensitive to bright light and sound, making performing on stage nearly impossible” WK – led to a less than amicable split. This time, however, Styx soldiered on with Shaw and without DeYoung.
“A lawsuit between DeYoung and his former bandmates 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’).” WK
Back to the Solo World (2000-:
“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 in DeYoung’s hometown of Chicago, was a family affair for DeYoung. His wife Suzanne,” WK to whom he had been married since even before Styx’s success, “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 and formed the basis for a touring version of the show, and eventually an 2004 album, The Music of Styx – Live with Symphony Orchestra.” WK “Unlike many musical families, the growing family toured together throughout DeYoung’s career in order to provide stability for the couple’s young children.” WK
“On June 19, 2007, DeYoung released in Canada, One Hundred Years from Now, his fifth solo album, which marks a return to his rock roots. The first single, the title track, is a duet with Québécois singer Éric Lapointe. The single reached #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.” WK
“On May 8, 2008, a DeYoung-written musical of The Hunchback of Notre Dame premiered at the Bailiwick Repertory Theatre in Chicago.” WK
After a 13-year hiatus from the recording studio, Dennis returned with the solo album 26 East Volume 1 in 2020. It was followed by 26 East Volume 2 in 2021. He says it is the last album he’ll make.
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First posted 11/20/2011; updated 6/5/2021.
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