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Being a Performer

Dennis DeYoung is the former keyboardist and vocalist for Styx, with whom he had five top-ten albums in the 1970s and early 1980s. DeYoung was the writer of some of the band’s most enduring hits, including “Babe,” “Come Sail Away,” “Lady” and “Mr. Roboto.” Since leaving Styx in the mid-1980s, he has released several successful solo albums, and continues to write, record and tour regularly.

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Dennis DeYoung, former lead singer of the rock group Styx, talks about what it means to be a true performer and to open yourself up to your fans.

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DY: Being a Performer

I don't know where that comes from. I think it probably has to do with a real need to please someone who cannot be pleased. I've said this before. Maybe it's not as true as I think it is, but I certainly know it's true for me and a lot of successful people. People who are very successful or who have been successful are desperately trying to please someone who cannot be pleased. It's usually your mother or father.

I look back at my life, and I think it was my mother in my case. I'll be happy to say. She's been dead four or five years. I wanted to please my mother. That's why the accordion, and— I think that's where that comes from. I wanted to entertain my mother and see her smile, to make her happy. I think that's where that comes from for a lot of people. I think all children want the approval of their parents. You're thinking about yourself right now, Danny. You're thinking about yourself. And you're thinking about yourself— who it is in your life.

I think that we all want to have the approval, feel the specialness from our parents. Some of us are just good at certain things to get that approval. I was good at playing the accordion. I was good at being funny when I was a kid. I think that just translated to when I finally got on stage that I had experience at trying to please people. Good entertainers, that's what they have. They have that ability.

Is that too Freudian for you? But it's true, isn't it? Now you're both thinking of the people in your life after I've said that.

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