October 10, 2000: Dennis DeYoung Sues Styx

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The Best of Times?

Things can get ugly when bands split and shatter. And often wind up in court. That’s what happened when Styx went out on tour in 2000 with James “J.Y.” Young and Tommy Shaw but without founding singer and keyboard player Dennis DeYoung, who had written and sung their biggest hits, including the 1979 #1, “Babe.”

The Chicago-based classic rock group had broken up in 1983, and then regrouped in 1989 and again in 1995. Original drummer John Panozzo died in 1996. The remaining members made an album in 1999, Brave New World, during which longstanding artistic differences came to a head. DeYoung wanted to continue following his theatrical bent that had first shown up on the band’s 1981 album Paradise Theatre, and was writing songs in a Broadway and classic pop vein. Young and Shaw preferred to rock.

When Styx booked a tour to promote the disc (largely a commercial flop), DeYoung asked them to delay it due to health issues he was having that made him painfully sensitive to light and sound (bassist Chuck Panozzo was also sidelined from that tour for health reasons). Young and Shaw toured as Styx without DeYoung.

He filed suit in 2000, claiming the tour violated an agreement the group members made in 1990 that all decisions by Styx required all five members to agree. He charged that his former bandmates were damaging the band’s name and stature. Yet he also sought a share of the proceeds from the tour.

The other members countersued when DeYoung started performing shows that billed him as “the voice of Styx.” A settlement allows him to say “formerly of Styx” or “performing the music of Styx,” but not “the voice.” Young, Shaw and Chuck Panozzo continue to perform and record as Styx (and tend to not play DeYoung’s songs).

Fans are advised to not hold their breath awaiting DeYoung’s return to the band. As Shaw points out, “[W]e weren’t even happy working with each other in our heyday. We’re just different people with different desires and different vision of how things should be.”

Watch Styx perform “Babe”

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Related: Styx and Don Felder to play Vegas residency in 2018

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