The Unpredictable Journey of Steve Perry

Posted May 30, 2014 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Former Journey frontman Steve Perry comes out of hiding for one night and the whole world pauses

Not everyone likes Journey.

While “Don’t Stop Believin’” might be the pinnacle of delight for Glee sing-a-longs, it’s not exactly the cup of tea for the upper echelon of rock stalwarts. Those that frequent the pop/rock band’s “lovin’, touchin’, squeezin’” ‘80’s friendly revues hosted in stadium-packed shows hardly will see the other side of Journey-mania, that pile of vile commentary that haunts the message boards.

But former Journey frontman Steve Perry knows that not everyone likes Journey.

Heck, if you asked him one-on-one, he probably would tell you that he isn’t exactly in the band’s Five Faves since he left the band back in 1998. He’s since being replaced by YouTube sensation Arnel Pineda. And even Pineda is having a rough time nowadays keeping up with what city he’s in, swaying some diehard Journey fans to think differently of their favorite arena-rock band.

But this week, Steve Perry came out of his twenty-year coma and took to the stage for the first time in years. Not with Journey. But with the Eels.

At a concert in St. Paul, Minnesota, Perry was introduced to the stage by Eels frontman Mark Oliver Everett during a very surprising second encore. Appearing a bit nervous (particularly over the seismic nature of the occasion), Perry sung the band’s “It’s a Motherfucker” using a balladic glaze. Then they went into Journey mode, performing stripped down versions of “Open Arms” and “Lovin,’ Touchin’, Squeezin’.” The 65-year old veteran is still in good form. He appeared to be healthy and still has that unique voice of his. He’s also quite dashing for a man of his age.


So how did this all happen? “We’re good friends with Steve Perry and have been for years,” Everett told Billboard magazine. “He started coming out to our shows a long time ago and would occasionally send word backstage that he wanted to meet me. And it was a little awkward for me because when I was younger I just didn’t have a real appreciation for Journey. I was like, ‘I don’t know what I’ll say to the guy.'” The band and Perry also enjoyed games of croquet on multiple Sunday nights, which lead to Perry showing up to the band’s tour rehearsals.

In rehearsals, Perry would shy away from performing his songs, although the band members tried their hardest to reel him in. “Every year the guys in the band would try to bait him; they’d start playing Journey songs hoping he’d pick up the mic and sing a Journey song for the first time in 18 years or whatever,” Everett recalls. “He never would, but he laughed. He was a good sport.”
So many questions are rising to the surface. Why after all these years has Perry come out from hiding? Why has he shied away from the idea of putting out new music or going on a solo tour? And what was so special about the Eels and St. Paul, Minnesota that the beloved Journey singer decided to make this kind of history? Everett tried to answer those questions as best as possible. “He had a great time, and you have to respect that he did it for all the right reasons. He could’ve mounted a huge, zillion-dollar comeback tour, which maybe he’ll do at some point and have every right to do. But he came because he wanted to have fun and he wanted to sing those songs again, ’cause he’s so good at it.”

What will come from this rare one-time episode no one knows for sure. Even the Eels have no idea what will come from this or if it will ever happen again? “I don’t try to press Steve on anything,” Everett said. “Our relationship is Steve does what Steve does. I would love to do more and I hope he will, but that’s all up to him. This may be enough for him, and if this is the only time it ever happens, I’m just glad it happened.”

Meanwhile, Pineda has jumped into the conversation. When a Journey fan posted the video of Perry’s impromptu performance with the Eels on Pineda’s Twitter account, the current Journey singer tweeted: “He should come back. His voice us still there..missed that voice.” He continued by saying, “He can take over too. It’s his righteous place anyway..wanna see them happy together.”

So no one knows for sure what’s to come of this. No one can accurately answer these questions but Perry himself. We just have to tune in to see what’s next on this “journey.” In the meantime, “don’t stop believin.”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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