Journey's story begins in Northern California with guitarist Neal Schon, a child prodigy who dropped out of high school to join Santana just prior to the San Francisco band recording its third album. Schon, while in high school, had been jamming with Santana keyboardist Gregg Rolie, who ultimately would follow Schon into Journey.
The union of Santana and Schon was short-lived, but in that time period, Schon would meet a man who believed that a band formed around his guitar work would be a viable entity.
When Schon left Santana, he explored the idea of a power trio with two former members of Sly and the Family Stone, drummer Greg Errico and bassist Larry Graham. Playing funk, however, limited Schon's amount of soloing, which prompted him to look for another musical vehicle.
Walter "Herbie" Herbert, a guitar tech for Santana who had added management duties to his job, approached Schon in early 1973 about forming a guitar-centric band. Herbert has said Schon was “the quintessential guitar expressionist of the time” and to further his career, Herbert connected Schon with two members of the popular local act Frumious Bandersnatch, former Steve Miller Band bassist Ross Valory and guitarist George Tickner. They enlisted drummer Prairie Prince, a member of the Tubes, and the all-instrumental act began performing as the Golden Gate Rhythm Section.
They developed a local following, one that was strong enough for San Francisco FM station KSAN to hold a contest to see if a better name could be given to the GGRS.
The contest yielded the moniker Journey. New name in place, Rolie joined the band in the summer of 1973.
The first edition of Journey developed a largely instrumental progressive rock sound. The first change in personnel came in early 1974 when Aynsley Dunbar, a British drummer who spent time in the bands of Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa and John Mayall, took the place of Prince, who decided to stay with the Tubes.
CBS/Columbia Records signed that lineup in November 1974, but by the time "Journey," their debut album, was released, Tickner had left to attend medical school. Tickner, whose compositions were the backbone of Journey's earliest repertoire, was not replaced, making the band a single-guitar outfit.
Each of the band's first three albums - "Journey" (1975), "Look Into the Future" (1976) and "Next" (1977) - charted higher than the previous release. And the band maintained a grueling touring schedule, staying on the road nine months per year performing music that Schon has referred to as "a rock ‘n’ roll version of the Mahavishnu Orchestra."
But sales were not as strong as the label had hoped and the band was asked to hire a full-time lead singer. (Rolie had handled vocals from behind his keyboards).
The first vocalist brought in was Robert Fleischman, who joined the band for a summer tour in 1977. While his songwriting contributions to the band included “Wheel In The Sky” and “Winds Of March,” personality clashes resulted in Fleischman promptly leaving the band. A young drummer and singer, Steve Perry, who had contacted Herbert several times, also received an endorsement from CBS, leading to him being tapped as Journey's new lead singer in October 1977.
Not all of the members were sold on the idea of bringing the singer into the fold. But at their first meeting, in a hotel room, Schon and Perry collaborated on what would eventually become the song “Patiently.”
Roy Thomas Baker was hired to produce their fourth album – and first with Perry - “Infinity,” which quickly went platinum after its release in April 1978. The album remained on the charts for more than two years, peaking at No. 21, and would ultimately sell 3 million copies.
In September 1978, Steve Smith, who had been Journey's drum roadie and a member of several hard rock and jazz-fusion bands, replaced Dunbar, who had joined Jefferson Starship.
“Evolution,” which would become their second million-selling album, was released in May 1979. In October, they scored their first top 30 single with "Lovin, Touchin', Squeezin'."
Maintaining a torrid pace in the studio as well as on the road, it was only 11 months later that the band registered their first top 10 album. “Departure,” which featured the leadoff single “Any Way You Want It,” reached No. 8 on the Billboard album chart.
A live double album, “Captured,” followed, becoming their fourth consecutive disc to go platinum.
Before the band returned to the studio Rolie departed, replaced by Jonathan Cain of the Babys. Adding Cain to the songwriting mix with Schon, Perry and Valory would result in Journey scoring the biggest hits of their career.
"Escape," released in September 1981, was the band’s first No. 1 and would eventually be certified 8 times platinum, spending more than a year in the top 40. That album produced three of the best -known songs in the Journey canon: "Don't Stop Believin'," which hit No. 9; "Who's Crying Now" (No. 4); and "Open Arms," which spent six weeks at No. 2 in 1982.
While “Don’t Stop Believin’” would have its place in the sun years later as the final song on HBO’s “The Sopranos” and as the theme song for the Chicago White Sox on their way to the 2005 World Series, at the time of release “Open Arms” ushered in the power ballad into American pop music. The first songwriting collaboration between Cain and Perry, it quickly became the band’s signature song at the time and would years later be covered by Mariah Carey.
Their popularity soaring, Journey became the first rock band to inspire a videogame. In the early ‘80s their concerts were visual spectacles as they revolutionized the use of big screens and computerized lighting systems.
And with the advent of MTV, Journey's star only continued to rise. One of the few 1970s rock bands to successfully make the transition into the video age, the follow-up to “Escape,” “Frontiers,” sat at No. 2 on the Billboard album chart in the spring of 1983. The album that kept them from the top slot was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the biggest selling album of all time during the vinyl era.
During this period, Schon and Perry opted to do solo projects as well. Schon reunited with keyboardist Jan Hammer – they had made an album together in 1981 – to record “Here to Stay” and made a live album, “Through the Fire,” with Sammy Hagar, Kenny Aranson and former Santana percussionist Michael Shrieve. While Schon was experimenting with styles that did not fit within the Journey sound, Perry released the commercially targeted album “Street Talk.”
Between 1983 and 1986 the band landed seven top 20 hits, among them "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" and "Girl Can't Help It." In early 1985, their track for the film “Vision Quest,” “Only the Young,” hits No. 9 as the band members decided to relax their schedule.
A year later, Schon, Cain and Perry returned without Valory or Smith, using studio musicians on “Raised on Radio.” It hit No. 4, spending almost seven months in the top 40, and the band toured with bassist Randy Jackson, who would years later become a judge on “American Idol,” and drummer Mike Baird.
The group disbanded in 1989, seemingly for good, as Schon and Cain created Bad English with John Waite while Valory, Smith and Rolie joined the Storm. In 1993, the band reunited, sans Perry, for a Bay Area concert honoring their former manager Herbert.
Perry, Schon, Cain, Smith and Valory reunited one last time for 1996's "Trial By Fire." The dozen songs on the album were written in just two weeks. It opened at No. 3, yielded the Adult Contemporary hit single "When You Love a Woman," which would garner the band their first Grammy nomination, and a 25-date tour was booked. Perry moved to Hawaii to get in shape, but while there he developed health problems and was eventually told he would need a hip replaced. The tour never took place and with no fanfare, the members of Journey went their separate ways.
Ultimately, Schon, Valory and Cain decided the band would forge ahead. Steve Augeri was brought in as lead singer and Dean Castronovo, a member of Bad English, replaced Smith on drums. (Smith joined the fusion act Vital Information). Their first recording as Journey was “Remember Me” for the “Armageddon” soundtrack.
“Arrival,” Journey's 11th studio album, was released in April 2001. A 30th anniversary tour followed the release of “Generations” in 2005. The tour featured shows that were more than three hours long and included material from every phase of the band’s career.
A year later, Jeff Scott Soto replaced Augeri, whose time in the band was cut short due to a throat infection. Soto’s tenure was short-lived and in 2007, Journey tried a variety of ways to land a new singer. After two days of watching videos on YouTube, they came across a video featuring Arnel Pineda performing with a Journey cover band in the Philippines and booked him for an audition in the States.
Within just a few songs he had secured the job. Pineda made his debut with the album “Revelation,” which was sold exclusively at Walmart outlets and was certified platinum within several months of its release.
More than a million fans have seen Journey on tour since 2008 with Pineda as lead singer. After seven months on the road with Journey, Pineda told the media in Asia, “This is the best job in the world and as long as my band mates will let me rock with them, I will keep singing with Journey.”