Dennis DeYoung had big touring plans for 2020. But the former Styx vocalist, like his peers, had to cancel all his road work in early March that year due to the pandemic. As time passed, it felt like an unexpected milestone had been added to his timeline and he doesn't like it.

"The greatest disappointment to me is that I didn't know my last show was my last show," DeYoung tells UCR. "So in the back of my mind, I have to correct that at some point here."

But as we learned during a recent conversation with the songwriter, it hasn't been idle time. He's been working to complete a memoir and was happy to share what fans can expect from the book – as well as what it will not be. While it's unclear presently when it will hit the shelves, DeYoung has clearly been energized by the process of going through the events of his life and the work that he's done.

The lengthy interview with Ultimate Classic Rock Nights host Matt Wardlaw covered several different subjects, including Styx. DeYoung reveals some details about the book, his thoughts on an eventual return to the stage – and he also addresses the question of any further new music.

Now that we talked about all of the Styx stuff, let's discuss something else. You've been out of the public eye for the past few years. What have you been doing?
I’m writing my autobiography. I’m maybe 10 or 11 chapters into it. But they’re not long chapters. Here’s how I went about it: Mrs. Jenkins assigned me a topic today and I sat down and [wrote about] what I did on my summer vacation. In other words, I looked at a specific thing. I went to what I felt were pivotal moments in my life and my career. I started there, because to dive into all of the stuff we’ve been talking about first, it was too painful. I had to get all of the really good stuff out first. I spend a lot of time talking about who I am and why? How did I turn out this way as a human being? Because I think it’s vital to know a person’s family history, how they were raised and how they were influenced. Not by musicians, but the people who love them.

I’ve said this for years, driven and ambitious people like myself are desperately trying to please someone who can not be pleased. I always think, well, it’s someone who raised you. It’s Mom or Dad or whoever it was that raised you. That’s my premise [for the book], why did I work so hard to become successful and famous? Because we wanted to make Mommy happy. We wanted Mom’s approval and love, that’s what human beings want. I read [Bruce] Springsteen’s book and he could have written one sentence, “My dad made me do it.” That was it. [Laughs] You get to the end of it [and that’s what you think]. Ultimately, that’s the underlying factor and it’s the underlying factor in all of us. So I really spend time talking about – not in a psychoanalytic way, but in an honest way – why do people do the things they do? I find that fascinating. I’ve been writing it and I just finished a chapter 20 minutes ago called “Wallball.” It’s really about the first time the Panozzos [future Styx bassist Chuck Panozzo and his brother, eventual Styx drummer John Panozzo] and I got together. I don’t know if you’re a sports enthusiast, but in my life, sports and music were everything. Do you know what wallball is?

READ MORE: Why Dennis DeYoung Never Wanted 'Mr. Roboto' to Be a Styx Single

Absolutely, did you play wallball?
Oh my God, yeah. But the meeting between myself and the Panozzos – I’m not going to give it away – was like a lightning strike. It shouldn’t have even happened. It’s like one of those serendipitous things that occur that have no rhyme or reason. It just happened. But I’ll give you one clue: First, I had to go to the grocery store and buy bread for my mother and then I was going to go play wallball with my buddy who lived across the alley. We played the two-man kind. You could play two, four, six, but mostly, we played as two guys. That’s when the epiphany came and it was all by chance. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I still need to pick up my Illinois Music Hall of Fame award.They put me in twice, once as a songwriter and once for being a member of Styx. You know what? I don’t care what anybody says, if you don’t like that kind of shit, you’re crazy, or you’re lying. When somebody wants to give you an award and recognize you for what you’ve done, for crying out loud, you’ve got to be excited, or there’s something wrong with you.

When did you start working on the memoir?
I started it in 2014. I’m kind of a jokester. You know that about me. I wrote a foreword and it was just filled with nonstop humor, searching for approval from the reader. [Laughs] I gave it to my friends and they’re like, “What is all of this?” [Laughs] They told me, “It’s funny, but who cares?” So it kind of discouraged me, but then slowly, I would come back to it. But I really didn’t get serious about it until the pandemic made me focus in – because there was time to write.

What was the impetus that made you start a book in 2014?
We had sold out 13 shows at the Le Capitole in Quebec, my band and I. So I was there for two weeks. It was freezing cold in December and I didn’t have anything to do. I thought, well, let me see if I can write something about my life. That was the impetus. There was no burning need. I didn’t feel like, “Oh God, you know what’s wrong with the world? They need a book from Dennis.” Puh-leeze. I went and read a bunch of autobiographies from people I like, Rod Stewart, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Sting – a bunch of them. Of course, I read biographies of [Paul] McCartney, [John] Lennon and I was just reading trying to figure out, “What are these books about and what do I have to learn from them?” Two things that I learned: You can’t give me enough pictures of before you were somebody.

That’s the joy, the discovery. – because I think people have an inherent interest. Like, how does a mook like this [DeYoung gestures at himself in a comical fashion] end up over here? They’re all looking for the key. What’s the magic wand? What’s the key to success? How does that happen? I thought, I’m going to find as many pictures as I can of the “before” and give that to the public. Secondly, what I thought, what sells books is “dirt.” I’m doing my damndest not to do that.  ["You're not putting dirt in there," DeYoung's wife, Suzanne, assures him in the background, as we're talking.]

But I have one chapter that I’ve titled – and I have yet to write it – that’s the chapter where I’ve said, “This is why you bought the book, so get ready.” [Laughs] Because people, they thrive [on that]. Maybe it’s always been this way, but we live in [that kind of] culture. Let’s see the bodies. We need to look at them. But look, I never wanted to write a book like that. If I ever thought I’d write a book, it would have been about the joy – and listen, there’s plenty of joy in this book. But like I say in the book, beginnings are easy, endings are hard.

READ MORE: Dennis DeYoung on Styx's 'Paradise Theatre'

Will you be doing any further live concerts?
Here’s what happened. As fate would have it, I had just recorded the first volume of my last two solo records. It was due to come out in May of 2020. I had a 60 city tour booked. I was out in California playing some shows. We played the Magnolia in El Cajon and then we were going home and getting ready for the next week when we would begin the 60 city tour. Bingo, they declared a pandemic and everything got shut down. The greatest disappointment to me is that I didn’t know my last show was my last show. So in the back of my mind, I have to correct that at some point here. I had really thought about it being the fall of this year, but [those plans] have been put to the side [for now]. To not know that you’re playing your last show, that’s weird. You don’t want that. So I plan on correcting that.

Are you still writing at all, musically? One of the last times we spoke, you said your two most recent albums were the end. But does anyone like yourself ever really stop writing?
Yeah, me. Someone just like me [Laughs] One of my best buddies is Jim Peterik. He never stops writing. He stops to eat and go to the toilet. You know, he just can’t stop writing. The last two albums, I just thought, “What more am I going to say and do here?” Do people need to keep hearing from me? I’m not the guy – and this is probably one of the things that makes me very different from a lot of musicians, and some from my band. They live to be on stage. That’s it. Not that they don’t have other interests, but really, that is the focus of their life. Their time on stage makes them feel the most alive and the most fulfilled. I understand that – because there was a time when I felt that way. I guess circumstances have kind of changed my point of view. I’ve always had a family. I had a wife and a daughter before I had a record deal. I had a family and a life that was separate and apart from standing on stage every night. That was important to me. So now, I don’t feel the need to write more music. Every once in a while, I’ll go, “Oh, maybe I should ….” And then I realize there’s something good on Amazon Prime. I have BritBox, baby! I’ve seen every English person and every murder that’s ever happened in England! I know so much English jargon now it isn’t even funny. I’m feeling knackered at the moment and I need a little kip. See what I mean? But I couldn’t watch BritBox without closed captions.

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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

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