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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 the writing of his hit song Lady.

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Dennis Deyoung: Singing

I wrote it for my wife. I had a wife and a baby girl before I had a record contract. We got married in 1970, in 1972 was when we got the record deal, so I wrote that song for my wife. I wrote it on a Wurlitzer electric piano in my garage in a little house we had bought. At the time, I was listening to—you’re not going to believe this—Court of the Crimson King for inspiration. You probably don't even know that. It's a band called King Crimson. You may have heard of that. That's what I was listening to.

Now what that has to do with Lady, I have no idea, except I know I always saw my wife as this kind of shy, very dignified, ladylike person. In Court of the Crimson King, kings, ladies, knights, all that kind of stuff I guess, you know— Wacky, isn't it? I knew it was the best thing. Because it was the first thing that I'd actually written and recorded by myself, I didn't know. I thought, That's pretty good. This doesn't suck that much. When you’re a young artist, and you're starting out, you're desperate for validation and approval. I think most artists are equal parts unbridled confidence and ego, and equal parts complete insecurity. That's what most artists are, those two things clashing all the time.

I think I was that. When you're younger, I think you believe you're better than you are out of necessity. Then you work hard, and some of us are lucky and actually get better. I think when you're young, you want approval, you want somebody to reinforce you. When Lady first came out, and it was first released, it was a complete failure. It was a stiff. It was horrifying to me. We recorded two albums subsequent to that. In those next two albums, I tried to be anyone but myself. On Styx two, the Lady album, there were only seven songs. I wrote five of them. Because it was rejected, I thought completely by the American public, that on the next two records, I tried to write like other people. I was sure people didn't like me and like what I did.

What I didn't know was, whatever it is you create to have success, to have a hit record however you want to determine that, has as much to do with the business apparatus of the music business as it has to do with the actual song, record, piece of art that you've created. But I didn't know that then. I just thought that I stunk.

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