Last Updated on July 7, 2023 by Scott Shetler
Styx: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Facts
Eligible Since: 1998
Grammy Awards/Nominations: 0/1
Career Top 40 Hits: 16
Essential Tracks: Lady (1973), Come Sail Away (1977), Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man) (1978), Renegade (1979), Babe (1979), The Best of Times (1981), Too Much Time On My Hands (1981), Mr. Roboto (1983), Show Me the Way (1990)
Essential Albums: The Grand Illusion (1977), Pieces of Eight (1978), Cornerstone (1979), Paradise Theatre (1981)
The classic rock unit Styx has been eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for more than 25 years. Despite a boatload of hit singles and albums, they have yet to be inducted alongside their peers.
Why has Styx been ignored by the Rock Hall for so long, and is it possible they could still be honored by the Hall someday? Read on as we run down their history and accomplishments.
Styx’s Rock Hall Credentials
Styx has been one of the most successful bands in rock history, with top ten hits in three different decades and an estimated 18 million albums sold in the U.S. and 54 million worldwide.
Styx began as a progressive rock band in the early ’70s, but moved toward a more traditional rock sound after Tommy Shaw joined in 1975. The band has had several lineup changes over the years, but the core group during their peak years featured singer-guitarist Tommy Shaw, bassist Chuck Panozzo, and guitarist James “J.Y.” Young, all of whom continue to perform with the group today; plus singer-keyboardist Dennis DeYoung and drummer John Panozzo.
DeYoung and Shaw wrote most of the group’s hits separately, and the contrast between their songs was obvious. Shaw penned the hard-rocking hits like “Renegade” and “Too Much Time On My Hands,” while DeYoung wrote and sang the love ballads like “Babe” and “Lady.”
This duality works both for and against the group in terms of Rock Hall consideration. On one hand, it’s always impressive when bands have multiple singers and songwriters who can create their own styles.
But having two styles can turn off potential Hall voters who don’t like both sides of the group. Voters who like and respect the Shaw-helmed material, for instance, may still leave Styx off their ballot if they think that DeYoung’s ballads are too gloopy.
DeYoung tended to favor dramatic, theatrical tunes. These elements were common in ’70s classic rock (this was the era of Bowie, Queen, and Elton, after all), but sometimes they felt like they didn’t fit in with the rest of Styx’s catalogue.
When DeYoung’s more creative efforts worked, they really worked. “Come Sail Away” is a certified classic, “The Best of Times” is dramatic in the best possible way, and even “Mr. Roboto” is viewed favorably by most listeners.
But his experiments didn’t always pay off. Kilroy Was Here, the 1983 release that featured “Roboto,” was an ambitious, futuristic rock opera. Although its storyline was about a future where rock music is outlawed, many fans just remember it for the weird robots in the videos and artwork.
The album and its Broadway-esque concert tour, spearheaded by DeYoung, created tension within the band, and Shaw left for several years. Styx didn’t issue another album until 1990’s comeback effort Edge of the Century, which produced the #3 hit “Show Me the Way.”
In the late ’90s, the band reunited with most of its classic lineup and began touring again. They have continued to tour and release new music in the years since, although they have not achieved the same level of commercial success as they did in their heyday.
Though Styx never won a lot of awards, “Babe” did capture a People’s Choice Award. They still have songs like “Come Sail Away” and “Renegade” getting played on classic rock radio stations today, which can only help their cause, as it keeps them in the conversation.
Not many bands with four multi-platinum albums and 16 Top 40 singles fail to earn Hall of Fame induction. Only a handful of other acts have had similar commercial success without getting nominated, including Foreigner, Motley Crue, and the Pointer Sisters. So you’d have to think that Styx could someday get inducted.
The Case Against Styx
Styx received mixed reviews from critics throughout the years. The ballads were criticized for being too sappy, the harder-edged songs were criticized for being formulaic, and the band itself was generally perceived by some as not being especially innovative.
In some circles, Styx were just never “cool.” Look at the video for “Too Much Time On My Hands.” That’s a badass song, but everything about this video is just silly, in a bad way. Perhaps it’s this sort of thing which prevented the band from ever getting the full level of respect they deserve.
Or maybe critics’ main problem was DeYoung himself. His soft-pop tunes were divisive, and Kilroy Was Here was mocked by some music fans for years. Yet not one can deny that he wrote a number of smash hits.
Another argument against Styx’s induction is their limited influence on future artists. Surely they must have influenced some bands who came after them, but who? It’s not like there’s a huge list of modern artists lining up to declare that they are Styx superfans.
While Styx may have had a successful career and loyal fanbase, their critical reception and limited influence have led many to question whether they deserve induction into the Hall.
The Verdict: Will Styx Get Inducted?
Styx’s chart performance definitely makes them a Hall of Fame contender, even if they haven’t been nominated yet. Plenty of long-overlooked bands do end up getting inducted. See Judas Priest, Journey, Steve Miller Band, Chicago, and more.
But dozens of rock bands from the ’70s and ’80s have already been inducted into the RRHOF, so there must be something about Styx that Rock Hall voters just don’t care for.
It’s possible that Styx could end up being one of those groups that falls through the cracks and just never gets the support needed to earn induction. We’ll put their long-term chances at just under 50-50.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Styx
Odds of Getting Inducted Next Year: 2%
Odds of Getting Inducted in the Next Five Years: 12%
Odds of Getting Inducted Eventually: 45%
Do you think Styx will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame someday? Leave a comment and let us know!