View Full Version : Styx: "Kilroy Was Here" Story vs. Lyrics
I know the basic premise of "Kilroy Was Here". Obviously, it is set in the future where rock 'n' roll is banned, lyrics are censored, and machines run our lives. IIRC, Jonathan Chance is held prisoner by Mr. Roboto guards for disobeying these laws. I assume he's ultimately held by Dr. Righteous who will brainwash us all into how to think and feel like his moral self. Chance uses a Mr. Roboto mask, thank you very much, to help him escape when he needed to, and ultimately strive to bring back and keep rock and roll alive.
But, some of the songs on the "Kilroy Was Here" album sound like love songs (Don't Let It End, Haven't We Been Here Before). Can anyone summarize the story of Mr. Roboto/Jonathan Chance and how these songs fit into the storyline of this made for MTV movie-likely video? Who is he singing to when DeYoung says "Pictures of you still make me cry...honey, don't let it end this way." Is he singing from his jail cell to some unidnetified lover who may forget him?
11-20-2002, 11:09 PM
Damn I wish I'd seen the mini-movie!
It wasn't Jonathan Chance who was locked up, it was Robert Orin Charles Kilroy (R.O.C.K)., played by Dennis DeYong.
(Lucky you, I've just recently bought the album on CD and dug up my old vinyl copy after reading an article on the history of Styx).
The story went as follows (periphrased):
Dr. Rigtheous got his own cable network, and started a movement called the MMM (Majority for Musical Morality). He said rock 'n roll was responsible for the moral decline of the U.S. and the economic disaster that went with it. He got rock 'n roll banned.
About this time, Kilroy was finishing up a tour with his band at the Paradise Theatre (a real life venue that was part of Styx's history and IIRC did shut down). The MMM raided the concert, a anti-rock protester was killed, and Kilroy was found (somehow) responsible and sent to jail/prison camp.
Jonathan Chance (played by Tommy Shaw) is the leader of an underground movement that wants to restore popular music (mainly rock 'n roll). He has decided to make a symbol/martyr of sorts out of Kilroy. Chance manages to alter a transmission of an MMM brainwashing program by adding a bit of footage from a Kilroy concert into the "message." This inspires Kilroy to bust out of jail.
Kilroy does so by overpowering one of the Mr. Robotos. The are machines that do all the grunt work for society (think: the Asimo robot designed by Toyota...). Evidently they also work as corrections officers in prisons. He disguises himself as a Mr. Roboto and then leaves coded messages as graffiti for Chance to find. Eventually the two hook up at the old Paradise Theatre...
So that's the backstory. Is it obvious yet that Dennis DeYoung had kind of a thing for musical theatre/rock opera? This was mostly his idea. The discrepancies you'll find with the songs has to do with the structure of the band.
Quite uniquely, Styx had THREE singer-songwriters, each with a different style -- this contributed greatly to their successful formula that allowed them to have hits in three decades.
Tommy Shaw, was the grassroots, squeaky clean, country boy.
Dennis DeYoung was the rock-pop hit-maester.
James Young (who played Dr. Righteous) was the heavy metal rocker.
They each had distinctive writing styles and voices.
Some of the songs were written for, and fit into, the Kilroy Was Here narrative. Some were written outside the scope of the story, but were included as potential pop hits (like "Don't Let It End" that did well on the charts.) Tommy Shaw's songs were the ones that seem most out of the loop as far as the story goes, but they kind of fit them in. ("Just Get Through This Night" could be the anthem of a reluctant rebel, and "Haven't We Been Here Before" sounds like a love song/break up song that was modified to be an ode to the Paradise Theatre.)
I don't know how "Don't Let It End" fit into the mini-move because I haven't seen it.
I you know where to get a copy of the video, please do let me know!
Kilroy Was Here was the first pop/rock album I ever bought as a kid.
11-20-2002, 11:27 PM
Oh, and you can check out this site (http://www.styxnet.com/deyoung/styx/history.html) to get some of the history about Styx. And there is a painfully accurate review of the album (http://www.esotericecho.com/styx.html) to be found as well.
Dennis DeYoung had a thing for rock-theatre. It kind of annoyed the crap out of his band-mates sometimes, thought they did their best to keep up with his vision -- just to seewhere it would take them. In an era that was just on the cusp of the MTV craze, the idea wasn't that far off-base, really. I mean, think of the far more successful The Wall by Pink Floyd. Kilroy Was Here just didn't quite hit the right chord, so to speak. The execution of the concept was the part that kind of got muddled, but the notion of a multi-media extravaganza was actually on target with the way things were headed (pre-Max Headroom).
DeYoung eventually got to play Pontius Pilate in a revival of Jesus Christ Superstar and perhaps that was his true calling.
11-21-2002, 02:43 PM
I don't have a lot to add here, as the main question has been answered.
The short movie is at the beginning of the "Caught in the Act" video. I bought it many many years back.... AFAIK its no longer in print and never released on DVD, but I'll bet you can get one on EBay. The movie is about 15 minutes long and its at the beginning of the tape, which segues into a concert video (when Tommy's hair was cut painfully short).
As for the songs not fitting the storyline - if you ever catch a rerun of the Styx "Behing the Music" on VH1 you'll see Tommy Shaw saying how he was told he had to write songs to fit this storyline and he had a very hard time with it. So if you have to mentally shoehorn his songs in to see how they fit that's why. My theory about "Don't Let It End" is that DDY just needed to fulfill his requirement of one sappy ballad per album (see Babe, Best Of Times).
KWH was one of my first albums too, and my very first Styx one. A combination of rock music and science fiction, with a cute young blonde guitarist? Sign me up!
11-21-2002, 03:01 PM
My ears are burning. Is someone talking about me?
I saw the KWH tour back in '83, I think. The short film led off the show and, when JC (me) and Kilroy met Shaw and DeYoung walked on stage and began the show with some explanatory dialogue Then the show was Kilroy telling the tale of his last gig where he was set up for murder by Dr Righteous.
I saw the show at the Capitol Centre outside Washington, DC. Big place. I hear tell there was a different presentation with more scripted lines for smaller venues.
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