Journey was inescapable in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, becoming one of the world’s biggest rock bands with their bombastic, arena rock and power ballads. Critics may have lambasted the sound, but Journey was one of the best of the genre. Surprisingly, though, their history goes much deeper – both prior to their 1978-1986 heyday and beyond. The only constant in Journey’s more than 35-year history? Guitarist Neal Schon.
The Original Journey
The original Journey, whose name came from a radio contest, was formed by former Santana alums Neal Schon and singer/ keyboardist Gregg Rolie. Aynsley Dunbar, who replaced original drummer Prairie Prince, also brought an impressive resume, having worked with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the Jeff Beck Group, and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.
Rounding out the band were “bassist Ross Valory…and guitarist George Tickner (who left after the first album)…This lineup recorded Journey (1975), the first of three moderate-selling jazz-rock albums given over largely to instrumentals.” WR
The Steve Perry Years
“By 1977, however, the group decided it needed a strong vocalist/frontman and hired Steve Perry (born January 22, 1949). The results were immediately felt on the fourth album, Infinity (1978), which sold a million copies within a year. (By this time, Dunbar had been replaced by Steve Smith.) Evolution (1979) was similarly successful, as was Departure (after which Rolie was replaced by Jonathan Cain),” WR formerly of The Babys. Those three albums produced such classic rock favorites as Lights, Wheel in the Sky, Any Way You Want It, and Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.
The 1981-1986 lineup of Schon, Valory, Perry, Smith, and Cain proved the most successful and best-known of the band’s career, although they lasted for only two studio albums – plus a reunion years later. “Following a live album, Captured (1981), Journey released Escape, which broke them through to the top ranks of pop groups by scoring three Top Ten hit singles, all ballads highlighting Perry’s smooth tenor: Who’s Crying Now, Don’t Stop Believin’, and Open Arms. The album topped the charts and sold millions,” WR their best-selling studio album to date.
Follow-up album “Frontiers (1983), featuring the hit Separate Ways, was another big success, after which Perry released a double-platinum solo album, Street Talk (1984)
The End of a Journey?
Schon, Perry, and Cain got back together in 1986 for Raised on Radio. Valory and Smith were no longer in the band, replaced by Michael Baird on drums and Randy Jackson, later a judge on TV’s American Idol.
“Following the tour, Journey disbanded. Perry went into a prolonged period of seclusion as Schon and Cain formed Bad English with vocalist John Waite,” WR who had worked with Cain in The Babys a decade earlier. “Bad English had several hit singles, including the chart-topper ‘When I See You Smile,’ before breaking up” WR after two albums.
Schon then formed the rock group Hardline with Bad English drummer Deen Castronovo. While the group experienced far less success than Journey or Bad English, it did cement a relationship between Schon and Castronovo. Eventually, he would be brought into the Journey fold as well.
During this same time, Journey alums Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory, and Steve Smith formed The Storm, which didn’t generate near the attention of Journey or even Bad English and Steve Perry solo projects, but they did manage one top 40 hit with “I’ve Got a Lot to Learn about Love” in 1991.
“Perry returned to recording in 1994, releasing For the Love of Strange Medicine. Although the album went gold, it was a commercial disappointment by previous standards.” WR
The Reunion…and Next Phase
With Perry’s first solo album in ten years and first recording in eight, he signaled he was ready to work again. “In 1996, Perry, Schon, Cain, Valory, and Smith staged a Journey reunion, releasing the million-selling Trial by Fire, which featured the gold-selling Top 20 single When You Love a Woman.” WR
The reunion was short-lived, however; Perry and Smith opted out of the reunion after the tour, but Journey continued, hiring a new lead singer, Steve Augeri (formerly of Tall Stories), and…Castronovo, who made their debuts on Remember Me, a track on the 1998 Armageddon soundtrack. The band next reconvened in 2001. Arrival, Journey’s 11th new studio album, was released in April, followed by a national tour.” WR
In 2005, Journey “released a new album, Generations, and embarked on their 30th anniversary tour. Shows on the tour stretched over three hours long and were divided into two sets – one focusing on pre-Escape material, the other on post-Escape material.” WR
By 2006, “Jeff Scott Soto aboard as a replacement for Augeri, who developed a throat infection that prevented him from singing. However, Soto’s time with the band was limited; in 2007, Journey announced that they had parted ways with the singer and were once again seeking a frontman. They found him in Arnel Pineda, a Filipino vocalist that they discovered after seeing him perform on YouTube. Pineda made his debut with the band in 2008, the same year that Journey released Revelation.” WR That album proved a surprise success – going top 10 and inching toward gold as of this writing – feats the band hadn’t accomplished on a studio effort since 1996’s Trial by Fire. They returned with another studio album, Eclipse, in 2011. The journey had proved to not be over yet.