Back in the early 80s, few bands could compete with the popularity of a rock group from Northern California called Journey. Their seemingly endless supply of hits, belted out by frontman Steve Perry, filled arenas across America, endeared them to a generation of rabid fans who welcomed Journey with open arms and have yet to let go.
The band was originally assembled by producer Herbie Herbert and included Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie, veterans of the band Santana. The other members were drummer Prairie Prince, bassist Ross Vallory and guitarist George Tickner. Originally intending to be a backup band for other San Francisco musicians, the group eventually decided they wanted their own slice of the spotlight and struck out on their own. After changing drummers, the recently named Journey got a recording contract with Columbia in 1974. The first few albums didn’t exactly conquer the charts but after a few more lineup shuffles, the first hit finally arrived with “Wheel in the Sky.” Shuffling yet again, Steve Perry was hired as lead singer to complete this group of seasoned musicians.
Channeling a more-formidable pop sound, Journey released Infinity, which climbed to #21 on the charts. The next two albums, Evolution and Departure met with similar success and the latter spawned a world tour. Their best selling album arrived in 1981 called Escape, which featured such incendiary hits as “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Who’s Crying Now” and “Open Arms.” Riding this rising wave of fame and fortune, Journey recorded radio commercials and allowed their likeness to be used in two video games, all while helping to coin a new term, “arena rock.” 1983’s Frontiers not only continued the string of single-word album names, but their commercial success as well. Singles like “Faithfully” and “Separate Ways” each reached the Top 20, ensuring the band a place in rock history.
By this time, there had been several exits and entrances of old and new members for Journey; in 1986, after Raised on the Radio, the band consisted of Perry, keyboardist Jonathan Cain and guitarist Schon. Perry left a year later and the other two members formed the bad Bad English.
Reunions and compilations albums tend to find their way into every band’s resume and so was the case with Journey. Perry came back to the fold in the mid-90s and the group released the Grammy-nominated Trial by Fire in 1996. Unfortunately, a hip injury suffered by Perry (let that be a lesson to all: even rockers age and have brittle bones) nixed an upcoming tour and the band started shopping around for a new lead singer. With Steve Perry’s shoes being mighty big ones to fill, it was a daunting task. After a few less-than-successful attempts, the band struck gold on, believe it or not, YouTube – finding a singer named Arnel Pineda performing cover versions of their material with an eerie and uncanny ability to duplicate Mr. Perry’s magical vocal cords. His inclusion into Journey immediately brought the band back in to the spotlight, making them one of the top grossing acts of 2008. They continue to tour, delighting fans old and new around the world.
If Journey provided much of the soundtrack of your youth, we welcome your memories in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this unforgettable 80s band.