Dennis DeYoung talks unlikely hits and robot masks

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Tampa Bay Times on Feb. 22, 2012.

In the early 1960s, Dennis DeYoung was just a 14-year-old with an accordion and a mission: to make a few bucks with his friends performing at weddings around his Chicago neighborhood of Roseland. A TV show changed all that.

“It was the Beatles on Ed Sullivan,” Dennis told me during a phone interview that went a lot longer than the planned hour. “If you talk to any baby boomer guys in rock bands, I would believe 80 percent would tell the same story. It was an epiphany.”

DeYoung retired his accordion for a set of keyboards and co-founded a band that would go on to achieve platinum sales success and fill stadiums with fans from the late ’70s through mid ’80s: Styx.

A battle over music direction coupled with health problems led to DeYoung’s dismissal from the band in 1999. But he still performs the music of Styx for fans around the world, while his old bandmates continue on with a new lead singer.

I spoke with the singer – long a hero of mine – a few weeks before he was scheduled to perform with the Florida Orchestra in Clearwater, Fla. Dennis was touring the nation, performing the hits he wrote with his own hand-picked band and local orchestras.

“The music lends itself to orchestration,” DeYoung says. “This is no condemnation of Chuck Berry, who I greatly admire. But Chuck Berry’s music will not translate as well to orchestration because of its very three-chord rock ‘n’ roll nature. It is the music of the artists that are more pretentious, pompous or closer to the kind of big dramatic stylings that orchestras are good with.”

“I wanted to make the rock band the focus; the orchestra is the sixth member,” he said. “I went one step further in incorporating actual pieces of classical music, trying to weave them within the confines and structures of the hit records that we had — which only pointed out clearly how absolutely c—– my songs were compared to Mozart.”

Here are some more highlights from our conversation:

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Episode 485: Biggest Turkeys of the ’80s

Jen with One N, B-Rad and Spearsy had to reach a compromise on this week’s Thanksgiving-themed podcast: We decided to honor both the biggest “turkeys” of the ’80s – movies, songs and more that were huge busts – but also agreed to hand holds and say what we were thankful for. (Spearsy was thankful that part of the show only lasted 5 minutes.)

This episode of Stuck in the ’80s is sponsored by Hims, a new wellness brand for men. Look, it’s just a fact of life. If you’re stuck in the ’80s, you’re probably also stuck in your 40s or 50s, and that means your glorious ’80s mullet or feathered hair look isn’t ever coming back. But help is here with Hims. Stuck in the ’80s listeners get a trial month of Hims for just $5 today right now while supplies last. Go to forhims.com/80s for your special deal.


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After 13 years, Stuck in the ’80s blog needs a new home

For 13 years, the award-winning Stuck in the 80s blog has been hosted and supported by the amazing group of journalists and managers at the Tampa Bay Times. That will change in a few weeks. The new home of the blog will be the same place that has hosted our podcast for the last six years – our website here at sit80s.com.

As we transition from our old home to new one, we hope to transform this website into a more dynamic and exciting destination. We plan to redesign the pages and find better ways to offer you the entertainment you’ve come to love over the last 13 years.

When I founded the podcast and blog back in 2005 – more of a mid-life crisis reaction to my 20th high school reunion – I never dreamed we’d survive more than a dozen episodes or posts. For the first seven years of the blog, I posted 365 days a year – breaking that streak only once, I believe, for the day my father passed away. It’s carried me places I’d never imagine – from ’80s-themed vacations all over the world to co-hosting podcasts in New Zealand, to interviewing my hero Steve Perry and more.

In a few short months, we’ll record our 500th episode of the show live on board The 80s Cruise featuring a special group of icons from the ’80s as our interview subjects.

When I left the Times in 2012, the newspaper asked to continue hosting the blog, and I was thrilled to say yes. The Times and I have celebrated milestones together, even though I now live 90 miles away. I wish my colleagues there all the best as they pursue a new direction for their own digital operations.

In the meantime, I will refocus my energies on giving Stuck in the ’80s a second life – maybe a third one, depending on how you score things. I won’t be alone. A group of close friends, co-hosts and ’80s family will be there all the way. Stuck in the ’80s would be nothing without you all. And so, as we embark on this future together, I invite you – as always – to share your thoughts, suggestions and encouragement.

Life does move pretty fast. We’ve taken 13 years to look around so far. Let’s take another few years to see where the journey takes us next.

Hopelessly stuck in the ’80s,
Spearsy….

Episode 484: Two More Great Albums Turning 30

Oh yes, 1988 seemed like the dark ages for some music fans in our beloved decade. The magic of the early ’80s was gone, and FM waves had been invaded by hair metal and teen pop queens. But there were some albums still worth discovering, including Tracy Chapman’s self-titled album and a really fun (if not also dark) disc by Siouxsie and the Banshees. This week we again honor the year 1988.

Stuck in the ’80s is a partner of Audible, which offers you 30 days to try Audible free, including your choice of any audiobook plus two Audible Originals. Visit audible.com/80s or text 80s to 500500.

Stuck in the ’80s is also a partner of HelloFresh. Brad and Steve are actually fulltime paying customers as well! Because you’re a listener at Stuck in the ’80s, you get a brand-new special deal. For a total of 60 dollars off – that’s $20 off your first 3 boxes, visit hellofresh.com/radical60 to get started and then use the promo code radical 60 when ordering.


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Episode 482: Interview with directors of ‘Time Trap’

Cast of Time Trap movie

Ben Foster and Mark Dennis are co-directors of a “Time Trap,” a new movie that takes inspiration from many of the time travel movies of our beloved ’80s. They join the show this week to talk about the latest work, Hollywood’s love affair with ’80s remakes and more.

This episode of the podcast is sponsored by ForHims.com. Save $20 off your first month of the Hims anti-aging kit. Go to forhims.com/80scare.

We’re also proud to announce our latest partner: Robinhood, an investing app that lets you buy and sell stocks, ETFS, options, and cryptos – all commission-free. Robinhood is giving Stuck in the ’80s listeners a FREE stock like Apple, Ford, or Sprint to help build your portfolio! Sign up at stuck.robinhood.com.


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