Dennis DeYoung still hasn’t gotten over the fact that Styx exists without him fronting the band. DeYoung, who was replaced as the band’s lead singer in 1999 by guitarists Tommy Shaw and J.Y. Young, still holds out hope for a final reunion with Styx. DeYoung recently released his latest — and final — studio set, 26 East, Vol. 2.
During a chat with Classic Rock, DeYoung spoke candidly about his thoughts on being ousted from his frontman position, explaining, “I’ve tried, in vain, to be in that band from the moment they replaced me. In the beginning it was my band, my idea, but now it’s really Tommy Shaw’s band. I’ve said that we should do one last tour together, for those people who made us rich men. They know I’m ready to do it. And recently it was floated as a possibility. But Tommy Shaw was the only one who spoke, and he said no.”
Both Tommy Shaw and J.Y. Young have painted a picture of DeYoung being at times insufferable to work with — something DeYoung maintains is a false narrative: “Let me tell you, all this stuff they said about me was the biggest exaggerated bunch of lies I’ve ever seen in my life. We liked each other. We never had a punch-up. We never screamed at each other. We weren’t those guys. We made music together. So when you cast aspersions — not only on my musical contributions, but also on my character — it’s been the greatest heartbreak in my career.”
As far as the band besmirching their past by ignoring or mocking some of DeYoung’s material, he said, “I can’t think of a band that’s worked harder than Styx at diminishing its own reputation, and to denigrate the music that we created together. And it serves no purpose. Our fans loved us because what we did musically was very uplifting and positive. That’s what we stood for. And to harm that in any way is insane. Not to give the fans one last glimpse of us together on stage, it makes no sense to me. And I know that all Styx fans would want to see that one more time.”
Regarding 26 East, Vol. 2 being DeYoung’s last album, he said, “I’m not retiring. And if the spirit moves me I might write a song from time to time and put it out through Apple or whoever the local robber baron is. But I’m not going to go through the tortuous effort of making a complete album again, because my audience will go: ‘Hey, that’s nice, Dennis,’ pat me on the head and then say: ‘Please play ‘Come ‘Sail Away.’ This is a fact for all classic rockers. The people who still support us are emotionally bound to the music of their youth, which is true of all generations.”|
Although his former bandmates, guitarists Tommy Shaw and J.Y. Young forced him out of the band over 20 years ago — Dennis DeYoung still yearns for a final shot at fronting Styx. We asked him what it would take to see that happen: “Those two guys. I would always have been in Styx, except for their decision — that’s a fact. I don’t have a grudge. I have to ax to grind. No hatchet to bury. I should’ve been in the band, I wanna be in the band — well, the last coupla years I’ve been sayin’ — ‘Hey! I don’t wanna be in the band anymore.’ But we should do one last tour — get Moe, Larry, & Curly on the stage, and show people what it was.”
When we last caught up with Dennis DeYoung, he told us that although he and the rest of Styx no longer have contact, he can’t help but still love the creative connection they once shared and be thrilled about what they accomplished together: “You can’t find anywhere where I’ve ever said anything denigrating about what we created. It doesn’t exist. I just don’t believe it. I think, by and large, we did really good work. We stood for something; we stood for something positive in our music — it’s a joy to do it (live). To know I was part of all that stuff and here I stand and I can still duplicate it, so I think: ‘Hey, no complaints from me!'”