Dennis DeYoung became a well-known artist through his work with legendary rock group Styx. Like his Styx brethren he was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. DeYoung began with Styx friends Chuck and John Panozzo. With Styx, DeYoung was involved in the writing, producing, and recording of albums that would end up selling over 30 million copies. But the relationships within the band were rocky so DeYoung, a talented keyboardist and vocalist, struck out on his own in 1984. His career in rock has gone back and forth since then between solo work and reuniting with his former Styx band mates. He released three successful solo albums before his first reunion with Styx in 1990. Desert Moon, Back To the World, and Boomchild all had definite influences of his involvement with Styx, and he still enjoyed playing with his former band mates.
The 1990 Styx reunion was short lived and the band again disbanded. DeYoung took this opportunity to release another solo album. The fourth album differed from the previous three in its unique use of classical composing influences. 10 On Broadway was full of the influence of composers like George and Ira Gershwin, Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, Andrew Lloyd Weber, and Tim Rice. The album was celebrated in the music community. DeYoung managed to please both Styx fans and those who had not ventured into the rock genre. Despite his success in his solo career, DeYoung again rejoined Styx in 1996 to play on their first studio album in eight years, Return to Paradise.
He left the group, not because of another breakup, but because of a serious viral ailment that made him sensitive to light. The fast pace and bright lights of the stage tour would have aggravated his illness, so DeYoung sat out when Styx toured the US. By the time he was ready to rejoin the band, Styx had replaced him with Lawrence Gowan. Hurt and betrayed, DeYoung attempted to sue over the use of the band's name. He eventually settled out of court in 2001.
The last falling out from his Styx roots proved to be final and DeYoung threw himself whole-heartedly into his solo career. He found his way working in theatre, where he composed and recorded a musical based on Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame. He also appeared on stage as Pontius Pilate in a touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar. He did take one stroll into memory lane when he recorded a solo version of the Styx hit 'The Grand Illusion' for Siegfried and Roy's IMAX film. In 1999 he compiled favorites from his first three solo albums into a greatest hits record titled the Ultimate Collection.
Dennis DeYoung proved his talents with a successful solo career after a huge career as part of a hit rock band. Many artists have attempted the same feat with little success. DeYoung even managed to break into the theatre scene. Selling hit solo records, selling thousands of tickets to nationwide solo tours, and becoming a national icon without the rest of your award-winning band is something to be applauded and admired.
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