Former Journey vocalist Steve Perry shocked his old bandmates and thousands of fans gathered in Los Angeles Friday when he showed up to the unveiling of the band’s star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
“I knew nothing about it, and nobody else knew [anything] about it,” says guitarist Neal Schon. “We walked from the back to the front, where all the people were, and there he was. That’s the first time we’ve seen — or spoken to — each other in about seven years.”
Formed in 1973, Journey achieved their greatest success after Perry joined in 1977, when his soaring voice helped push the group’s power ballads like “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Open Arms” and “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” up the charts, before the group disbanded in the mid-Eighties. Though Journey reunited in 1996, a corresponding tour became the source of controversy when Perry was diagnosed with a degenerative hip disease and the band replaced him with Steve Augeri.
Friday’s reunion was spawned by Journey’s Thursday morning appearance on L.A. radio station KLOS’s Mark and Brian Show. “[The Djs asked], ‘Is Steve gonna be there?’ live on the radio,” says Schon. “I said, ‘You guys got his number? Let’s call him and invite him!’ So they proceeded to try and get through to him, which we were not able to do. In the end, Mark acted like he was Steve Perry, so I said, ‘I’m personally inviting you. You need to be there. You had a lot to do with this.’ And, apparently, Steve heard it when he was driving on the freeway.”
Journey were also reunited with former vocalist Robert Fleischman, and ex-drummers Steve Smith and Aynsley Dunbar, who turned up for the ceremony and later jammed with the band at a House of Blues gig Friday night. Though Perry didn’t make it to the performance, Schon hopes their brief reunion last Friday may have helped mend some fences. “I’m hoping everyone can put behind them all the ill feelings, for whatever reason, and just move on,” he says. “Life is too short — you need to get on with it. If you have problems, build a bridge and get over it. That’s exactly where I’m at, and so I’m hoping this is the beginning of a better relationship between Perry and ourselves.”
Journey are currently working on a new album
with producers Kevin Elson and Mike Frasier. The band
plan to give out the as-yet-untitled release to attendees of their upcoming summer tour, which will be billed as “An Evening with Journey” and sponsored by Clear Channel.
Friday’s reunion may strengthen the lineup for the lengthy outing. “We’re going to be able to play so much more material from the beginning, pre-Steve Perry days, and move on. We’re probably going to end up doing a three-and-a-half-hour show, so I’ve invited all the past members to come and sit in — including Steve Perry. We’ll just have to wait and see if he shows.”