Why Did Steve Perry Leave Journey & Whatever Happened to Him?
Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they take a look at why he quit the band Journey and whatever happened to him. Check it out below!
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can’t really talk about the band Journey without mentioning frontman Steve Perry.
He led the band to massive success in the 80’s, then quit, and then returned in the
90’s until finally saying goodbye to the band and becoming a recluse for almost 2 decades.
So why did he quit Journey and whatever happened to him? Stay tuned to find out!
Journey was massive in the 80’s. They seemed to release an album almost every year,
had numerous hit singles, and even had their own video game released, which was a pretty big feat
back then considering this was decades before guitar hero released standalone band games.
That’s not to say the game was very good, in fact it wasn’t.
Perry would lead Journey during the group’s most commercially successful periods from 1977 to 1987,
and again from 1995 to 1998. In between his stints with the band he
also launched a successful solo career, but also became reclusive for almost 2
decades before finally returning to music just a few years ago.
Steve Perry was the son of Portguese parents in California
and his dad being a vocalist and cowner of a radio station KNGS. Following his parents ending their
relationship he grew up on his grandparents farm with his mother. The defining moment for
his life would be at age 12 when he heard the Sam Cooke song “cupid” and it was that moment
that inspired him to begin a career in music. In his early 20’s Perry moved around California
playing in different bands. The moment that really changed his life was when he received a phone call
from Journey’s manager who had been given a tape of one of Perry’s previous bands and was
impressed with the singer’s voice. Journey at this point in time was more progressive in their sound
and was fronted by Robert Fleishman. Fleishman didn’t prove to be a good fit for the band and
didn’t get along with the group’s manager. The bands manager Herbie Herbert thought that he
was cocky and believed Perry would be a great replacement. That’s not to say Fleishman wasn’t
important to to the band , in fact he co-wrote one of the band biggest hits “Wheel in the Sky”
Surprisingly Perry would tour with the band while Fleishman was still fronting the band,
but to avoid arousing any suspicion Fleishman was told he was a roadie’s portugese cousin.
Then during a sound check ahead of a gig in Long Beach, California, Perry sang with the band on
stage while Fleishcman was off stage. Fleischman was informed shortly afterwards that Perry
was the new singer and he was out of the band. Perry brought a much more pop influenced sound
to the group and the addition of the singer alienated the group’s long time fans of their
progressive sound. Not that it really mattered though considering Perry appeared to be the
missing piece to the band needed to reach a new level of success. Following the addition of Perry,
the band would go on to dominate the 80’s rock scene with hit album after hit album.
Between the time he joined the band and 1984 Journey essentially released an album almost
every year. By 1984 the band finished touring on their 1983 record Frontiers and it’s members
took a much needed break while Perry pursued a solo career with his debut record Street Talk
which was pretty successful, selling over 2 million copies and featuring hits including
Oh Sherrie and Foolish Heart. During his time in Journey Perry also worked with other artists
singing on several Sammy Hagar tracks and in 1985 he sang on the benefit song we are the world.
After a long hiatus, Journey would reassemble in 1985 to work on their follow up record
Raised on Radio. It was during the sessions the wheels came off as Perry’s mother had fallen ill,
making the singer unavailable for large periods of time as he was attending to his ill parent.
His mother would pass away during this time and the band would manage to finish the album
and Raised on Radio would be the group’s final record with Perry for the decade.
The band toured to support the album, but by the end of the album cycle Perry was done with the
band as he was mentally exhausted from the whole ordeal and the band disbanded in 1987
Following his departure from the group Perry in 1988 began recording his second
solo album Against the Wall, which would be temporarily shelved. According to Perry he
didn’t have the passion to continue to work on new music at the time and between 1988 and 1994
he largely kept out of the spotlight for the most part making one off appearances
on stage with Bon Jovi and his former bandmates.
By 1994 Perry was back with another solo record titled For the Love Of Strange Medicine,
which was also pretty successful. The solo album paved the way for Perry to rejoin Journey in 1996
to begin work on a new album titled Trial By Fire. The album did well commercially but the
planned tour was cancelled following a hip injury Perry was dealing with.. He didn’t get surgery for
his hip until a year later and that frustrated his bandmates who wanted to get back to work.
By the late 90’s Journey was done and Perry would receive a phone call from his bandmates
advising him to pursue other career ventures as they grew tired of his lack of motivation
and drive. Steve Perry would tell podcaster Mitch Lafon “That fractured the stone for me;
that breaks it, I was given an ultimatum, and I don’t respond well to ultimatums.” he’d say.
It was also around this time that drummer Steve Smith quit as well. Journey decided to soldier on
finding a new singer in Steve Augeri, who stayed with the band until 2007 until he was dismissed.
During Augeri’s time in the group was accused of using pre-recorded tracks on tour
something which they didn’t completely deny. The wounds between Perry and his former
bandmates appeared to still be fresh in 2001 when VH1’s did an episode of behind the music
profiling Journey and Perry made some surprising remarks that puzzled his bandmates and manager.
Perry claimed he always felt like an outsider in the group despite the fact that his bandmates
thought he exerted a lot of creative control over Journey.. The band’s manager summed up
his reaction saying “that’s like the Pope saying he never really felt Catholic.
In one of the strangest twists in Journey’s story was that keyboardist Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon
found Filipino singer Arnel Pinedaon YouTube who did justice to Journey’s songs.
As Journey continued to sell out arenas with a new singer Perry mostly stayed out
of the spotlight but in 2013 he penned a letter recounting a tragic relationship he went through.
The singer met a women online named Kellie Nash who was a cancer survivor. The pair met,
fell in love and were together for a year and a half but Nash’s cancer returned taking her life.
Perry had his own cancer scare in 2013 requiring surgery to remove melanoma.
It was also during this time Perry made some more appearances including showing up at baseball games
and on stage with other bands, but he was also quite candid about why he never revisited his
old journey songs claiming his voice may not be able to pay justice to those tracks.
Fast forward now to 2017 and Journey would be inducted into the rock n roll hall of fame
and Perry once again took to the stage with his bandmates almost after two decades.
While he did speak at the podium he wouldn’t perform with the group, but any beef seemed
to be squshed as he spoke fondly about his bandmates and even praised new singer Anrel
Pineda saying “I Love You” and praising the singer for his showmanship. Following the rock
n’ roll hall of fame induction Perry revealed he had a burning desire to create new music
revealing he’d been working on a new album that would be largely inspired by his girlfriend Kellie
Nash. His follow up solo album would come out 24 years since his last release in 2018
with the record Traces, which would be a top ten hit on the billboard charts and received
mostly favorable reviews. Most recently Perry a three-song holiday EP on October of 2019. that
does it for today’s guys. Thanks for watching. Be sure to hit the like button and subscribe.
If you have suggestions for future topics let me know in the comments section below. Take care.