Seven years ago, Journey, as we knew it, died. That's when the band split with Steve Perry, the feather-haired singer whose piercing pipes were responsible for ''Open Arms, ''Wheel in the Sky," and ''Anyway You Want It." Journey continues to tour with a C-grade Perry replacement. The real deal has re-emerged after years away from the spotlight -- and a hip replacement. Thanks go out to the Chicago White Sox, who adopted Journey's ''Don't Stop Believin' " on their march to a championship. Perry sang at the team's victory parade with White Sox players Joe Crede, Aaron Rowand, and A.J. Pierzynski. Now, he's dipping into the past, overseeing a CD and DVD of a concert from the band's heyday. ''Live in Houston 1981 -- Escape Tour" comes out Nov. 15.
How did it feel having the White Sox adopt your song? You are a San Francisco Giants fan, right?
If they love you, I don't think it's wrong to go where you're loved. The second night, I was sitting in the clubhouse with Crede and Rowand and [relief pitcher Bobby] Jenks and I said, ''Congrats, that's 2 for 2 now." I told them I had to head out and do some work on the disc. Crede looked at me and said, ''Dude, you've got to go to Houston. This may never happen again."
So you changed your plans?
They played five hours and 45 minutes in Game 3, which took me to the edge of insanity. We won that one. Here we are the next day in Game 4, I'm standing near the warning track near the line and the White Sox are doing their stretches and busting my chops. I felt like I was one of the guys.
Like being in a band again.
When I was in Journey, there was a camaraderie. It had a purpose, it had a mission. We scrapped and had difficult times with each other and battles over musical differences but that never stopped us from being the best we could be.
You know, I did my first slow dance to ''Open Arms." Actually it might have been a Chicago song, but I like ''Open Arms" better.
I can't tell you how many times I get a tap on the shoulder and somebody says, ''I really love your voice and you guys were the greatest band." Or ''This was my prom song." Sometimes I forget. I'm a normal guy. I live a normal life.
What do you mean a normal life? You're Steve Perry.
I make my own bed when I'm at my house. I wash my own dishes every day. And when they pile up it's because I don't wash them.
Do you miss those days?
Terribly. When I heard the raw tapes and I started mixing it, there were times I had to keep my head down on the console. Those were some magical times. It was too hard to watch. And it was 24 years ago and it seems like it was yesterday.
So the Journey thing is over, right?
The divorce is final. Back when that happened, it was January of 1998. October is when I had the hip replacement, but January is when I got the ultimatum that they had been checking out other singers. That made it pretty personal.
But you give each of them solo spots on the concert album. Why not say, forget Neal Schon?
No, no, no. In the music, they're pouring their hearts out. I wanted it to be representative of what we once were together because the performances are absolutely magic. Especially Neal Schon. Though we're on the outs and we do not speak, it doesn't take away what we were.
Look, you don't have to do this, but is there any way you'd sing a few lines of ''Open Arms?"
''Lying beside you, here in the dark / Feeling your heart beat with mine"
Steve Perry, you remain my hero. GEOFF EDGERS
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