Journey Biography

This US rock outfit was formed in 1973 by ex-Santana members Neal Schon (27 February 1954, San Mateo, California, USA; guitar) and Gregg Rolie (b. 1948; keyboards), with the assistance of Ross Valory (b. 2 February 1949, San Francisco, California, USA; bass, ex-Frumious Bandersnatch), George Tickner (rhythm guitar, vocals; ex-Frumious Bandersnatch) and Prairie Prince (b. 7 May 1950, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; drums, ex-Tubes). On New Year’s Eve the same year, they made their live debut in front of 10, 000 people at San Francisco’s Winterland. The following day they played to 100, 000 at an open-air festival in Hawaii. In February 1974 Prince returned to the Tubes and was replaced by veteran session drummer Aynsley Dunbar (b. 10 January 1946, Liverpool, England). They initially specialized in jazz rock, complete with extended and improvised solo spots, a style much in evidence on their first three albums for Columbia Records. In April 1975, after appearing on their self-titled debut album, Tickner bowed out of music to attend Stanford Medical School. He was eventually replaced by ex-Alien Project vocalist Steve Perry (b. 22 January 1953, Hanford, California, USA), following a brief tenure by Robert Fleischman.

The switch to highly sophisticated pomp rock occurred with the recording of 1978’s Infinity, when Roy Thomas Baker was brought in as producer to give the band’s sound a punchy and dynamic edge. The album was a huge success, reaching number 21 on the Billboard chart and gaining a platinum award. Dunbar was unhappy with this new style and left for Jefferson Starship, to be replaced by Steve Smith (b. 21 August 1954, Brockton, Massachusetts, USA). Evolution followed and brought the band their first US Top 20 hit, ‘Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’’ (number 16, July 1979). Captured was a live double album that surprised many critics, being far removed from their technically excellent and clinically produced studio releases; instead, it featured cranked-up guitars and raucous hard rock, eventually peaking at number 9 in the US album chart.

Founder member Rolie departed after the release of Captured, to be replaced by Jonathan Cain (b. 26 February 1950, Chicago, Illinois, USA), who had previously played with the Babys. Cain’s arrival was an important landmark in Journey’s career, as his songwriting input added a new dimension to the band’s sound. Escape represented the pinnacle of the band’s success, reaching number 1 and staying in the chart for over a year. It also spawned three US Top 10 hit singles in the form of ‘Who’s Crying Now’ (number 4, July 1981), ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ (number 9, October 1981) and ‘Open Arms’ (number 2, January 1982). The follow-up, Frontiers, was also successful, staying at number 2 on the Billboard album chart for nine weeks, and reaching number 6 in the UK album chart. ‘Separate Ways’, culled as a single from it, climbed to number 8 in the singles chart in February 1983. The band then took a well-earned rest, broken only by the release of ‘Only The Young’ (featured in the movie Vision Quest) which reached US number 9 at the start of 1985.

After a series of internal disputes, the band was reduced to a three-man nucleus of Schon, Cain and Perry on the US number 4 album, Raised On Radio, which was premiered by another US hit single, ‘Be Good To Yourself’ (number 9, April 1986). They were joined in the studio and subsequent live dates by bass player Randy Jackson (ex-Zebra) and drummers Bob Glaub, Mike Baird and Nashville veteran Larrie Londin. With the various members going their separate ways, a Greatest Hits compilation served as a posthumous memorial to mark the band’s passing. Schon and Cain joined forces with John Waite’s Bad English in 1988. Perry concentrated on solo work, while Smith fronted a fusion band, Vital Information, and worked with artists including Tina Turner, Bryan Adams and Mariah Carey. Smith teamed up with Rolie and Valory to form The Storm in 1991, recording a strong self-titled debut set. In November the same year, Perry, Schon and Cain reunited at a tribute concert to commemorate the death of promoter Bill Graham.

A full-scale Journey reunion occurred in 1996 when Perry, Schon, Smith, Cain and Valory released Trial By Fire, which entered the US chart at number 3. The following year Deen Castronovo (ex-Bad English) replaced Smith, and vocalist Steve Augeri (b. 30 January 1959, Brooklyn, New York, USA; ex-Tall Stories) was brought in for touring purposes. The new members made their studio debut on the 2001 release Arrival. Religiously refusing to adapt or change a style of music that now sounds dated, Journey remains a highly popular concert draw.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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