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Journey

Journey

Fact Sheet

Musical genre:Rock  
City  San Francisco, California, USA
Years active1973-

Journey is an Arena rock band formed in 1973 in San Francisco, California.

The band has gone through several phases since its inception by former members of Santana. The band's greatest commercial success came in the early 1980s with a series of power ballads and soaring classics such as "Don't Stop Believin'", "Any Way You Want It," "Open Arms", "Separate Ways" and "Wheel in the Sky".

Origins

In December 1971, Gregg Rolie, the organist and vocalist and co-founding member of Santana, decided that it was time to leave the band, due to longstanding disagreements with Carlos Santana about the musical direction of the group. He went home to Seattle and opened a restaurant with his father.

While all this was going on, there was another face on the scene; the road manager for Santana, Walter "Herbie" Herbert. After an abortive South American tour, Herbert was on Carlos’ bad side. Herbie and Santana guitarist Neal Schon had become good friends on the tour. Herbie had the idea to take Schon and form a new band around his guitar-playing talents. After Schon parted ways with a Larry Graham side project that would eventually become Graham Central Station, he agreed. Herbert was able to get George Tickner (guitar) and Ross Valory (former bassist for the Steve Miller Band) who were at the time playing in Frumious Bandersnatch (another band that Herbie managed) to join Schon and form a new band. Prairie Prince (drums), who was already with The Tubes, was recruited to join the new effort.

Meanwhile, Rolie's restaurant in Seattle was not doing well. Rolie sold a majority of it, but still was on the hook financially. Herbert and Schon agreed that they should also bring in Rolie, and Herbie made the call. In June 1973, the Golden Gate Rhythm Section was formed. Their initial plan was to be a ready-made studio band for anyone wanting to cut a record in San Francisco. While waiting for a job to come along, Tickner started submitting ideas for the band's own original material. Tickner was leaning toward very progressive material, material that was probably not commercially viable, but was pushing musical boundaries. They recorded some demo tapes and sent them to KSAN-FM, the Bay Area rock station. After listeners heard the tapes, and were given some background on the band, they were invited to submit names for the band. There is some dispute as to who actually came up with the name Journey, but John Villaneuva, a Herbert associate, put it forward to Herbie, and the band had a new name.

First incarnation

The band's first public appearance came at Winterland New Year’s Eve 1973. The next day, they flew to Hawaii and played the Crater Festival. Prince, while he didn’t mind helping the band out, was still tied to his other band, The Tubes. He did not really want make a commitment to join formally, so Herbert, having become manager of the new band, arranged for auditions for a new drummer, but nobody clicked. Herbert thought of Aynsley Dunbar, a drummer who played with Frank Zappa, John Mayall, Jeff Beck, Bonzo Dog Band, Mothers of Invention, Lou Reed, and David Bowie. Schon remembered seeing him play with Zappa, and the hunt was on. Although Dunbar didn’t know the members of Journey, he saw the potential and joined the band. On 5 February 1974, the new line-up made their debut at the Great American Music Hall. The band was off and running.

Signed to Columbia Records, Journey released its self-titled first album Journey in 1975. It showcased their considerable talent as musicians on jazz-flavored progressive rock epics.

Guitarist George Tickner was tired from touring and left the band by the time of their second album, Look into the Future (1976), which toned down a little the overt progressiveness of their first release but still retained a jazz fusion base. The following year's Next tried for shorter tracks to increase accessibility, but didn't find commercial success (although it did start a pattern of trademark one-word album titles).

A new vocalist, phase one

With the mediocre sales of the album Next and the difficulties Gregg Rolie was having trouble maintaining his dual role as keyboardist and lead vocalist (in fact, Neal Schon sang on a few of that album's tracks), the band was pressured by the studio to change direction and find a new lead singer and frontman. As a result, Journey enlisted Robert Fleischman. Fleischman, a southern California native, had been playing with a Chicago-based touring band when his manager, Barry Fey, brought him to Denver in early 1977 for a showcase with studio executives. "It was completely snowing and we didn’t know if people were gonna’ make it, and then all the people from the west coast and the east coast made it," Fleischman recalls. He was "discovered" by a CBS executive at the showcase, and within two weeks was flown out to San Francisco for an audition with Journey.

Told that the band was transitioning to a more popular style, akin to that of Foreigner and Boston, Fleischman knew that his Led Zeppelin-inspired vocal style would be an asset. But he was taken aback by the sheer power of the band he was hooking up with. In their first studio session, Fleishman recalls, "It was like...having rockets on the back of your pockets. And they’d been together so long and they were so tight that it was great to play with people that way." The sessions that winter ultimately produced "For You," which later appeared on the Time3 box set, and "Wheel in the Sky," later recorded--without Fleischman--for the Infinity album.

Fleischman went out on the road with Journey that spring, but his tenure in the band was short-lived. He kept his own manager, Barry Fey, a constant affront to the authority of Journey's manager, Herbie Herbert. Additionally, Herbert seemed unwilling to let the band's new direction play out immediately, and Fleischman often found himself relegated to shaking a tambourine while the band played its classic numbers to its diehard core of fusion fans. Fleischman also apparently clashed with other band members when he failed to finish new songs promptly.

A new vocalist, redux

Manager Herbie Herbert had heard of singer Steve Perry, and when the singer's demo tape (from his previous band Alien Project) of a song called "If You Need Me, Call Me" (which later appeared on Perry's Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased album with the remaining tracks from the demo tape to be released in early October 2006 on the remastered release of Perry's Street Talk) was put in his hands by roadie Jack Villanueva, Herbie knew he needed to make a change. After an interesting interlude in which Perry was covertly introduced to the band (with Fleischman being told Perry was Villanueva's Portuguese cousin), Fleischman was fired. Perry made his public debut with Journey in October 1977 in San Francisco.

In Perry's first meeting with Schon, the pair quickly penned their first song together, "Patiently", which would appear on the new album Infinity in 1978. Perry added his signature vocals to now-classic tracks such as "Lights" (written by Perry as an ode to San Francisco but originally written as an ode to Los Angeles) and "Wheel in the Sky" (written by Fleischman, Schon and Valory's then-wife, Diane) and "Anytime". In addition, Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker was brought in by Fleischman to provide a more layered sound. The changes worked, and Journey achieved their highest chart success to date, reaching No. 21 on the album charts and Infinity gave Journey their first R.I.A.A. certified Platinum album.

In 1979 Dunbar was fired, due to what Herbie claimed was "incompatibility of the first order," and joined Jefferson Starship. His replacement on drums was Steve Smith for the album Evolution, and the band got its first Billboard Hot 100 Top 20 single, "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'".

1980 saw the album Departure, which continued the trend toward increasing commercial success, reaching No. 8 on the album charts. "Any Way You Want It" was a Top 25 single and received solid FM radio airplay. At this point, the band had a solid concert following as well. They were poised for large-scale success.

Exhausted from extensive touring, Rolie departed. Before leaving, he recommended a successor for keyboards: Jonathan Cain, a former member of The Babys, a band that had just previously toured with Journey.

Massive commercial success

In 1981, Journey's seventh studio album, Escape, went to No. 1 on the album charts and would go on to become their biggest selling and most popular studio album (nine times platinum), not counting their Greatest Hits album. The hits "Who's Crying Now", "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Open Arms" all reached the Top 10 as singles. The band's polished sound, fronted by Perry's distinctive and soon-to-be widely imitated voice, became a popular radio presence.

In particular, "Don't Stop Believin'" showcased how well Perry's soaring tenor could interlace with Cain's full piano chords and Schon's dynamic guitar work, while "Open Arms" — which spent six weeks at No. 2 on the charts — helped establish Perry as the standard for 1980s arena rock power ballad vocals.

Such success did not help Journey with rock critics, who for the most part had not liked any edition of the band. The 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide gave all their albums only one star, saying "Journey was a dead end for San Francisco area rock ... utter triviality ... banality ... reek[s] of exploitative cynicism." Fairly or not, critics often lumped Journey together with other one-word-named "corporate rock" bands such as Boston, Foreigner, Asia, Survivor and so forth.

In 1982, the band contributed two tracks ("Only Solutions" and "1990's Theme") to the Disney feature film Tron. Coincidentally, later that year the group became the first rock band to inspire a video game - or, more precisely, two: the Journey arcade by Bally/Midway, and Journey Escape by Data Age for the Atari 2600.

Journey's next album, 1983's Frontiers, continued their commercial success. It reached No. 2 on the album charts and scored four hit singles, with "Faithfully" and "Separate Ways" reaching the highest at Nos. 12 and 8, respectively. Cain's presence was more felt on this album, both in his songwriting (he was the sole writer of "Faithfully") and in the greater use of keyboards in the sound.

It was now the MTV era, and Journey's popularity was boosted by a documentary-like music video for "Faithfully", which showed various band members and their families on tour and which helped place the song up with Bob Seger's "Turn the Page" and Jackson Browne's "Load Out/Stay" as a life-on-the-road favorite.

Turmoil

Lead singer Steve Perry received much of the credit for Journey's success. In 1984, he released a solo album, Street Talk, which was successful and scored a very popular song and MTV video with "Oh Sherrie". Much to the dismay of Herbert, who had a falling out with Perry at that time, original member and bassist Valory and drummer Smith were fired from the band. The two were replaced by various studio musicians for the recording of the 1986 album Raised on Radio (originally meant to be called Freedom, but was changed at the insistance of Steve Perry), including future "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson (bass) and Larrie Londin (drums). Smith recorded two tracks with Journey on the album before departing. Both Smith and Valory were paid for any revenues from the album and the subsequent tour.

Production on Raised on Radio was stop-and-go, due to the poor health of Perry's mother, Mary Perry. Overall, the album sold 2 million copies. This is one of the least mentioned records, due to many believing that this was just an extension of Perry's solo career. This did not sit well with Neal Schon, who often clashed with Perry during the production of the record.

A tour followed, which featured Jackson on bass and Mike Baird on drums. Afterward, Perry, exhausted from the constant touring, grieving from the death of his mother, and the collapse of his six-year relationship with Sherrie Swafford, walked away from Journey in 1987, ending the band's ride at the top. Perry, despite working on a solo project in 1989 (titled Against The Wall) that was shelved, left the industry for several years before officially returning in 1994.

Schon and Cain left in 1988 to join Cain's ex-Babys bandmate John Waite, forming Bad English, and to record solo albums. Schon then joined his brothers-in-laws' group, Hardline. By 1991, Valory, Smith and Rolie joined The Storm; all the members had moved on with their lives and careers.

Perry also recorded "Don't Fight It" (1983), with Kenny Loggins. He has recorded with other groups since then, and released another solo album in 1994 (For the Love of Strange Medicine) and a solo greatest-hits collection in 1998. Schon has created two albums with Jan Hammer (1981 and 1983, plus a compilation album of the two in the 2000s) and in 1985 was part of the HSAS (Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve) project. He also continues to record solo work.

Attempts to re-form

Compilations and live albums were released while Journey was inactive. Mariah Carey's version of "Open Arms" gained Journey some attention in the mid-1990s (both Smith and Jackson had worked with Carey).

In 1993, Kevin Chalfant of The Storm performed with members of Journey on a few shows, and a reunited Journey was in the works with Chalfant, Schon, Cain, Valory, Smith and Rolie. That lineup did not come to fruition, when Perry announced he was rejoining Journey in 1995. This produced the reunion album Trial by Fire in 1996, which included a hit single, "When You Love a Woman" which was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Following the success of Trial by Fire, the members of Journey prepared for a much-anticipated tour. The media hype and the overall excitement surrounding the band was immense but it all came to a grinding halt when Perry injured his hip while hiking in Hawaii causing the band to postpone the tour. As it turns out, Perry likely needed a hip replacement but he steadfastly refused to make the decision to have the surgery. Recognizing the delicate matter of the situation, the rest of the band members waited patiently for over two years for Perry to make a decision to either have surgery or move on with the tour. In 1998, the band was beginning to get impatient and pressed Perry for a decision about his hip injury. When Perry refused, Cain and Schon reluctantly decided to continue the band without him. Drummer Smith, believing Journey would not survive without Perry, decided to leave the band as well, in favor of a longstanding jazz project (Vital Information) on which he'd been working prior to the reconstitution of Journey.

These decisions left Journey without a drummer and a lead vocalist. The drumming position was filled by Deen Castronovo, Schon's and Cain's Bad English bandmate, and the drummer for Hardline. The lead vocalist position would later be filled in 1998 by Steve Augeri, former Tyketto and Tall Stories vocalist. Augeri had dropped out of the music business and was working at The Gap in New York City as a store manager. He received a phone call from Schon, who had heard a tape of Augeri's vocals. Schon invited him to audition for the band, and, despite having not sung much in recent months, he impressed Journey members enough to land the gig. At this point Perry was legally no longer a member of Journey and Cain tells a story of how fans reacted angrily to Journey using Perry-led live tracks to advertise the new lineup's tour, when in fact the tracks featured Augeri. This is due in no small part to the fact that Augeri's singing voice closely replicated that of Perry's, even if it was somewhat "bluesier".

The band members promptly went to work recording a track for the soundtrack to the movie Armageddon, called "Remember Me". Not long after, the band began recording their next studio album, Arrival. The album originally was released in Japan in late 2000, but due to its leakage onto the internet and fans' negative reaction to its ballad-heavy sound, the band decided to delay its U.S. release and record two more harder tunes for the American version. "All the Way" became a minor adult contemporary hit from the album.

In 2001, the band participated in an episode of VH1's Behind the Music, but statements made during the interviews only exacerbated tensions between Perry and the group.

Recent

Journey's critical reputation did not improve with the passage of time: The 2004 edition of the Rolling Stone Album Guide mentioned above calls Journey the perfect karaoke act and gives no studio album of theirs more than two-and-a-half stars out of five; the greatest-hits albums did fare a little better.

Although cynically written off by many as a corporate pop act, Journey has become a half-ironic, half-reverent touchstone of sorts among some who would have been too young to see the band's original success, with semi-cultish references—at least to their greatest hits popping up on Family Guy and Beavis and Butthead, among other places. The anthem "Don't Stop Believin'" became a public rallying cry for the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox after they fell behind 3 to 0 against the Yankees in the ALCS and again for the 2005 World Series champion Chicago White Sox (Perry was invited to the celebration parade in Chicago, where he sang "Don't Stop Believin'" with members of the team). On February 6, 2005 "Don't Stop Believin'" was heard in a FedExKinko's commercial starring Burt Reynolds that aired during Super Bowl XXXIX. The revitalized song even appeared in the widely-watched 2006 American Idol finale. The song has, in fact, become popular again with the current teenage youth.

Journey and Steve Perry gained new attention in the 2000s due to Randy Jackson, who since his Journey involvement had become a successful recording-industry figure and then an American Idol judge. Film clips of Jackson with the band on tour were shown, and various contestants on Idol attempted to measure up vocally by singing Journey numbers, exposing the songs to a new generation of listeners. The best remembered of these attempts were Clay Aiken's take on "Open Arms" in a key semifinal round of the show (and later in a duet with fellow Idol Kelly Clarkson on their joint concert tour), and Elliott Yamin's praiseworthy performance of the same song in the 2006 semifinal round, but no attempts fully reached the high bar for singing set by Steve Perry.

On January 21, 2005, Journey received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where Perry made a surprise appearance at the ceremony. Relations between him and the rest of the group improved, but Perry said there was no chance of rejoining his former band in the foreseeable future. Ten current or former Journey bandmates appeared that day, including Perry and the current line-up, plus Steve Smith, Aynsley Dunbar, George Tickner and Robert Fleischman (Gregg Rolie was unable to attend the induction ceremony due to prior commitments). Two years before, Journey was inducted into the San Francisco Music Hall of Fame, with Rolie, Cain, Smith, Valory, Schon, Dunbar, Castronovo and Augeri appearing at that ceremony.

In 2005 the band embarked on their 30th anniversary tour, giving away free promotional copies of their new studio album, Generations to numbered ticket holders at most concerts, and eventually released the album commercially in October 2005. The shows on the tour each ran an three hours in length, and were divided into two sets — the first set included material from the early years (some of it being played live for the first time), while the second was based on material from Escape and onward.

In December of 2005 Journey's hit from 1981, Don't Stop Believin', rose to #13 on the "Hot Digital Songs" chart.

Journey was nominated for two categories on VH1's Big in '05 awards show: "Big Old-School Triumph" and "Big Download" (for "Don't Stop Believin'").