Dennis DeYoung says Journey and Foreigner owe it all to Styx: ‘That’s a No. 1’

Share this:

Long before “Open Arms” and “Don’t Stop Believin’,” years prior to “Waiting for a Girl Like You” or “I Want to Know What Love Is,” there was Dennis DeYoung’s “Babe” — the initial single from Styx’s career-altering 1979 Cornerstone project. The song became Styx’s first (and, thus far, only) charttopping single, but also one of the last No. 1 hits of the 1970s.

DeYoung’s former band, he tells Hinsdale Magazine, wasn’t the only one that was changed forever. “After ‘Babe’ was a hit, rock bands realized that they could release a straight ballad and still have careers,” DeYoung says. “And then Journey started doing it, and Foreigner started doing it — and it was only because I wrote a song for my wife.”

“Babe,” in fact, had humble beginnings, indeed — as a reel-to-reel gift for DeYoung’s spouse, Suzanne. Not meant for release, it had been recorded with only stalwart Styx bassist Chuck Panozzo and his late drumming brother John. “It was not a Styx song; it was just reel to reel, here you go — happy birthday,” DeYoung admits, outlining the song’s familiar narrative about lovers trying to make a relationship work from afar.

Then a friend of his — someone “who could kind of judge my music very well,” DeYoung says — heard “Babe.” “‘That’s a No. 1,'” DeYoung remembers his friend saying, “and he was a Led Zeppelin fan! I said, ‘Really?’ [And] he said, “Absolutely, that’s No. 1!”

It was, however, former bandmates Tommy Shaw and James “J.Y” Young — leaders, then as now, of the band’s harder-edged, more progressive side — who finally convinced DeYoung to add the song to Styx’s forthcoming studio effort. After Shaw tacked on a guitar solo, of course.

The rest is history — for Styx and, DeYoung insists, many others.

Something Else!

Something Else!

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Something Else!
Share this:
Close