Steve Perry shocked Journey fans this weekend when he emerged from a 19-year hiatus to perform a brief set at an Eels concert. The last time anyone heard Perry perform in public was on his 1994/’95 solo tour in support of his album For Love of Strange Medicine. Here’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” from a show at New York’s Beacon Theater in November 1994. As you can see, he was still rocking a kick-ass mullet even though this show took place well into the grunge era.
For Love of Strange Medicine was hardly a commercial success, and when the tour wrapped in early 1995 he re-connected with the guys in Journey and they cut the reunion album Trial by Fire, featuring the hit “When You Love a Woman.” A tour was slated for 1997, but Perry suffered a hip injury and indefinitely delayed the shows until he recovered. The other members of Journey eventually grew so frustrated with the situation that they brought in Perry soundalike Steve Augeri for a tour.
It wasn’t a decision that sat well with Perry, and he moved away from the spotlight, emerging for the occasional interview or San Francisco Giants Game after they began using “Don’t Stop Believin'” as their theme song. Some fans theorized that his voice wasn’t in great shape and he wanted to preserve his legacy as one of the greatest pop voices of all time, but the events of this weekend might be the start of a new phase of his career. It also may be the last time he sings anywhere. We’ll see what happens.