Styx founding member Dennis DeYoung made it up as he went along when it came to music early in his career.
“Early in my career, I thought people would see through me faster and discard me,” singer and songwriter DeYoung said. “And so I just kept making up stuff as I was going along, and I kept telling people I’m very good and some of them actually bought it. That’s what I did. I just made stuff up. I didn’t know what I was doing. If I would have known what I was doing, I would have been successful quicker and I would have been even more successful if I actually knew what I was doing, but I didn’t,so it turned out pretty good anyway.”
“Pretty good” is an understatement. DeYoung penned many of Styx’s most popular rock songs and ballads, and the band had three hit records in three decades: the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.
“The thing I’m most proud about Styx, is if you took a song like ‘Babe’ and a song like ‘Renegade’ and played it for strangers, they wouldn’t think they came from the same band, but they did,” DeYoung said. “It drew clout by the fact that we were able to connect with people in all different styles of music but still maintain some integrity to who we were.”
Dennis DeYoung & the Music of Styx headline Downtown Summerfest on Saturday, Aug. 12, and will be playing all of the hits that made Styx famous.
“It’s the greatest-hits show,” DeYoung said. “We’re going to play all the hits and we’re going to do it in a matter that if you close your eyes, you’re going to think that you’re listening to those records and if you open them, you’ll see the spirit and the energy of that band I was involved in so many years ago. That’s our goal.”
Younger audiences were turned onto Styx music after “South Park” co-creator Matt Stone, an avid Styx fan, approached DeYoung to use his music. DeYoung agreed to it, and South Park character Eric Cartman repeatedly belted out “Come Sail Away” on an earlier episode of the popular animated series.
“It was the smartest thing I ever did by saying ‘yes,’ because after ‘South Park’ did that, since the day they did that, requests for my music in motion pictures and TV shows haven’t stopped coming,” DeYoung said. “I get requests every week for all kinds of things, and I really think that ‘South Park,’ they were so popular, opened eyes to a lot of people about Styx songs. I don’t even know about how many TV shows, probably over 30 TV shows my music has been used in, and I guess probably 15-20 motion pictures. I think to myself, good for me.”