Dennis DeYoung said he has a very fond and specific memory of Mississippi. And that memory involves food.
“The thing I remember most about Mississippi was some barbecue we had in Jackson,” DeYoung said in a phone interview with the Sun Herald. “You could pick your own ribs off the smoker.”
The former lead vocalist and songwriter for Styx, DeYoung said he hasn’t performed in Mississippi since the 1990s. But that will change when Dennis DeYoung and The Music of Styx lands at the Hard Rock Live Biloxi at 8 p.m. on Friday. Tickets start at $19 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.
If you aren’t familiar with DeYoung’s music, especially his contributions to Styx, then you probably aren’t well-versed in classic rock. DeYoung was one of the founding members of Styx, along with Tommy Shaw, Chuck Panazzo and JY Young. As the band’s lead vocalist. and songwriter, his hits included “Babe,” “Come Sail Away,” “The Best of Times,” “Mr. Roboto,” “Lady” and “Don’t Let it End.”
“When I come down to Biloxi, people are going to come up to me and thank me for coming to their city, as if I was coming with the Red Cross,” DeYoung said. “And if they get a chance to talk to me, they’re going to tell me how much the music I helped to create means to them — I made a decision at age 25 to become a professional musician and if you had told me that this would be happening at 70, it would have been bigger than any dream I could have dreamed, so to walk out there and get the response from strangers, it’s amazing.”
In 1983, the band released “Kilroy was Here,” which included the groundbreaking “Mr. Roboto” and “Don’t Let it End.” DeYoung said it was a response to the government accusing artists such as Styx and Led Zeppelin of placing backward messages on their albums.
“It was really idiotic to begin with — I used to tell people that we had enough trouble making our songs sound good the right way,” he said. “How can the band that just made ‘Babe’ be accused of satanic messaging — were they even paying attention or were they just running their mouths, but the fact that you got into the band at that time was completely missed by my band mates because so many people tell me they got into Styx by hearing ‘Mr. Roboto’ and going backward.”
Although the band would dissolve after the “Kilroy” album and Shaw and company would carry on without DeYoung, the music of Styx has become a juggernaut in pop culture, including being used in episodes of “The Office,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “Southpark” and “The Goldbergs.”
“I got a call in like 1995 from VW to use ‘Mr. Roboto’ and I made a decision to license my music to anyone who asked as long as it didn’t embarrass my family,” DeYoung said. “I started getting calls from Adam Sandler, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Judd Apatow and Adam Goldberg — my goal was always to reach people and I can look at many ways that music has been used and say, ‘Mission accomplished.’”
If you go
Dennis DeYoung and The Music of Styx
Hard Rock Live at 777 Beach Blvd. in Biloxi
8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10
Tickets start at $19 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.