Still They Ride

A newly minted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame offers an occasion to look back on the career of Journey. That's right, Journey.

Today's Journey, however, is not thatJourney. It is a very different Journey. It looks like the Steve Perry Journey, and it sounds like the Steve Perry Journey, but it's not the Steve Perry Journey. The Steve Perry Journey is long gone. Steve Perry himself is long gone. And anyone familiar with the acrimonious circumstances surrounding his absence from the band knows that Perry showing up on this scene is about as likely as today's Journey playing Ozzfest. And yet they have made this pilgrimage anyway.

Typical: They haven't stopped believing.

The story, in brief: In 1984, during a break from Journey, Steve Perry released Street Talk. Buoyed by the No. 3 single "Oh Sherrie," Street Talkwent platinum, certifying Perry as a solo star. When Journey regrouped to record 1986's Raised on Radio, Perry, clearly feeling his power, forced drummer Steve Smith and bassist Ross Valory out of the band, replacing them with drum machines and studio musicians.

Raised on Radio would be Journey's last new recording for a decade. In the interim, Schon and Cain and singer John Waite grew their hair big and formed Bad English, and Perry put out another solo album, 1994's For the Love of Strange Medicine. In 1996, Sony gave Journey -- Smith and Valory included -- a trunkful of cash to come back together for Trial by Fire, but the reunion was doomed when Perry came up lame after recording the album, developing an unspecified hip ailment while hiking in Hawaii.

"We made a decent record," explains Schon, who now lives in San Rafael. "But then nothing happened from there. And I sort of felt that that's what it was gonna be."

Meaning you never really expected a tour?


Then, after a pause: "And I can't really get into why. I've got like ... you know, everybody signed papers years ago with [Perry]. Like, gag orders."

Gag orders meaning -- meaning that you can't talk about ...?

"About each other ... yeah," Schon says, laughing. "Silly shit, I know."

Multiple attempts to reach Perry for comment failed. Luckily there's the effusive Herbie Herbert, who signed no such gag order.

"I think he never planned on actually performing with these guys," says Herbert, who himself ended his association with the band before Trial by Fire, ostensibly the result of a rift with Perry. "I think he dislikes them every bit as much as they dislike him. But they're just not that smart. I love Neal Schon like a son, but he's just never been the sharpest knife in the drawer.

"I said, 'Neal, [Perry] would come, and if you were drowning in the ocean' -- which in terms of Journey, that's a good metaphor -- 'he would show up in his luxury liner and offer you a life raft in such a manner as you would decline. Of course, if you had any self-respect at all. If you accept, well then you have no self-respect.' And that's basically what Jon Cain and Neal Schon did, they accepted."

The life raft, apparently, came with a short leash. Reportedly in crippling pain, Perry spent much of the year after Trial by Fire's release considering hip surgery. His bandmates, meanwhile, lost patience. In early 1998, Cain called Perry and asked for a decision. Perry balked, and the band decided to move on. As Perry's replacement, they tapped another Steve, a Brooklyn kid with the last name Augeri who had sung lead for an early-'90s band called Tall Stories.

When they called, Augeri was retired, two years removed from the music business and working for the Gap, of all things. Tall Stories had never risen above obscurity, cursed as they were by the fact that their singer sounded just a little too much like Steve Perry.

This is no longer a problem for Steve Augeri.

It's really not all that high, the bar separating you from your very own place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You'd have to apply, of course, and you'd have to promise to show up for the ceremony. And you'd have to come up with $15,000, ostensibly to cover the costs of digging up the sidewalk. In Journey's case, members of the band's fan club submitted a presentation to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and two weeks later the Chamber accepted. Somewhere along the line, $15,000 changed hands, and now star No. 2,275 belongs to the guys who gave us "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'." As Neal Schon himself puts it, "Don't they have Disney characters on the Walk of Fame?"

In fact, they do. Both Donald and Mickey are there. So are Britney Spears, Dear Abby, Jamie Farr, Woody Woodpecker, Paula Abdul, John Tesh, and the Olsen Twins, who share a star.

But a low bar is not the same as no bar, no matter what you might think of Mr. Tesh. And when it comes to raw sales, Journey can clear pretty much any hurdle you'd care to put in front of it. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, the band has sold more than 40 million albums in the United States alone, about as many as Jimi Hendrix and the Who combined. Journey is the 30th best-selling act of all time in America, the third best-selling Bay Area act behind Metallica and Santana. The band's own figures set the total at 50 million records worldwide.

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