Long before they invented the power ballad, hit-rockers Journey peddled their wares elsewhere.
The group was formed in San Francisco in 1973 by guitarist Neil Schon and keyboardist/singer Greg Rolie, both of whom had been members of Santana. Rolie had actually co-founded the legendary group with Carlos Santana in the mid-1960s.
Schon, at a mere 15, had joined Santana in 1970, reportedly turning down a subsequent offer from Eric Clapton to join Derek and the Dominoes. Schon went with Santana because he asked first.
Rolie left Santana in 1971, while Schon stayed until 1973, then left himself. He then reached out to Rolie and the two set about forming their own band — initially a fusion rock band with Rolie on vocals.
The band’s first few albums would be unrecognizable for most Journey fans, with only bass player Ross Valory already on board with Schon. The rythm section was initially rounded out by drummer Praire Prince of The Tubes, who returned to that group relatively quickly.
Rolie was relegated to occasional and backup vocals in 1978, when the band added Steve Perry as a lead singer. By 1980, Rolie was disillusioned with the bands pop-rock direction and left. He was promptly replaced by Jonathan Cain, who had spent two years playing with The Babys, a band headed by John Waite which had scored a few hits in the late 1970s.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Perry’s vocal acrobatics and Schon’s and Cain’s songwriting propelled Journey into megastardom. Over the years they disbanded and reformed and currently remain together, although Schon and Valory are the only original members still taking the stage with the group.
(NOTE: This is part of an occasional Listening Room series I’ll be doing on noted rockers and where they came from. JF)
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