Dennis DeYoung, the original lead singer of Styx, will perform live inside the Paradise Theater (an apropos title if there ever was one) at Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City on Saturday, May 27th.  And I'm gonna be there, because I haven't seen Dennis DeYoung perform since 1983.

It's one of those questions that comes up anytime someone mentions Styx.  "Whatever happened to Dennis DeYoung?"  From the 70's through much of the '80's, DeYoung's voice was almost always on the radio.  Even to this day when you hear it, you know it's Styx.  Not only did he sing on most of Styx's hits, he wrote most of them, as well.  As a matter of fact, DeYoung wrote eight of their nine Top 10 singles.

Though it's hard to point to a single incident that fractured the relationship between DeYoung and the other members of Styx, Kilroy Was Here was a major contributor. The ambitious concept album sold alright, and even produced one of the band's best known songs, Mr. Roboto.  But it was the tour that killed the band.

I actually saw the Kilroy Was Here tour twice in 1983.  The first time was at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.  The show began with a 10-minute "movie" that set up the premise of the album and accompanying performance.  Then the band members appeared in character with scripted lines that they had to recite, particularly DeYoung and Tommy Shaw.  Sure there was the music of the album, but it was lost in all the theatrics which were incredibly awkward.  You could sense that Shaw felt uncomfortable in his acting role, and it was obvious he didn't believe in the project.

Later that year, Styx played the Texxas Jam at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.  As I recall, they were the headliners.  The problem was they followed Sammy Hagar who was an incredible showman.  He climbed to the top of the lighting rig, he ran back and forth across the stage, he was everywhere.  By the time he was finished, the crowd was stoked.

Then all the excitement was leached out of the stadium when it took an hour for the stage to be struck and reset.  I remember that the crowd got so restless that a huge Coca-Cola paper cup war broke out.  It got so fierce that security turned water hoses on the crowd to cool 'em off.  When the band finally hit the stage with the opening movie, the audience was like, "Wha?"  When Dennis DeYoung came out in his Mr. Roboto costume, you could just hear the snickers.  Needless to say, Styx's performance was an anticlimax

It all came tumbling down later that year in Maryland, when Tommy Shaw smashed his guitar, threw the pieces in the crowd, and stormed off stage.  The band had a short resurgence in 1991 when DeYoung's "Show Me The Way" became Styx's last Top 10 hit.  When the band decided to tour again in 1999, DeYoung declined the invitation, and went back to performing in the touring company of Jesus Christ Superstar.

These days Styx tours constantly and still draws consistently good crowds.  I saw them in Wichita, Kansas, last year and they were great.  DeYoung has released 7 solo albums and tours all over the world with his own band.  So things have worked out for everyone.


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