Journey's lead singer, Steve Perry, called Hit Parader with the details on the departure of Gregg Rolie, keyboard player, songwriter and cofounder of the San Francisco based rock band, who was "retiring from the road." There was to be a big party the next day in San Francisco in Rolie's honour.
"Gregg's been in the business for twelve or thirteen years," Perry said. "He had two complete platinum careers, really, two separate, strong careers. He was in Santana, and that's a real heavy strength right there, and he did a platinum career with Journey, and that's a real heavy strength too.
"He'd been talking for a long time about how he doesn't like the road: It can be pretty gruelling. When you're home only two or three months out of a year, and only three or four weeks of that time is actually to yourself because the rest is back to work in the studio or rehearsing. It can get to you."
"It's basically pretty simple," Rolie says himself a few days later. "I got quite tired of the road. I want to start a family, get into producing and get into another end of this business that doesn't require me to travel so much. I'm thirty-three and I think fifteen years on the road is enough. It's just the way I feel. I don't enjoy the travel anymore. I used to love it."
Rolie recently remarried, but rather than go into a lengthy retirement and honeymoon to unwind, he elected to go into the studio with 415, a Bay Area band recently signed to Nightmare, Inc., Journey's management. Rolie is busy collecting material for a projected solo album, and has spoken with Carlos Santana about a possible musical reunion of some sort. Rolie continues to be a member of the Journey organization, receiving a weekly salary like the members of the touring unit.
"Neal (Schon, guitarist) told me 'Gregg, you got a lot of guts to just leave that behind,' and I said, 'yeah, but I have to do it.' There's just other things I want to do other than travelling and travelling and travelling."
Former Baby Jonathan Cain is replacing Rolie. The other band members were particularly interested in Cain because he plays both keyboards and guitars and sings. Rolie never played guitar with Journey.
"We played with the Babys on tour," Rolie added. "I watched him every night before our set. I got to know him. He's really a nice guy, and seemed like the perfect person to fit in there."
Journey's story begins in the mid-60's when an ambitious teenager named Herbie Herbert managed a band called Frumious Bandersnatch, with Ross Valory on bass. In 1968, Rolie helped a then unknown guitarist, Carlos Santana, put together a group that became world-famous on the basis of their rousing performance at 1969's immortal Woodstock rock festival. When Bandersnatch broke up, Herbert became production manager for Santana. Valory went on to play in various Bay Area groups, including the Steve Miller Band.
At the age of fifteen, Neal Schon joined Santana as second guitarist, turning down the offer of a similar position from Eric Clapton. When Carlos Santana revamped his band's line up in 1972, Herbert approached Schon about putting a band together with Valory and a rhythm guitarist named George Tickner. Prairie Prince briefly played drums before joining the Tubes. He was replaced by Englishman Aynsley Dunbar. Rolie then came in as organist and vocalist. Journey played its first performance in San Francisco on New Year's Eve 1973. Tickner left the band some time later.
"They were musicians, basically," Herbert says now of the band. "They were not the foremost entertainers."
Journey rose to national prominence with its fourth album, Infinity which featured the group's then new singer and frontman, Steve Perry. Today Journey consists of Perry, Schon, Valory, Cain and Steve Smith on drums.
"We've changed hands several times without losing the beat," Herbert observes, "and without destroying the band. I think the cause of that has been a common focus, a common denominator, which is the unbelievable amount of understanding and compassion everybody shares. It's the closest thing to a family within a band structure since the Grateful Dead."
Journey's efforts are always group efforts, but twenty-seven year old Steve Perry is often the group's focal point and spokesman. Unencumbered by musical instruments, Perry plays to the stage's apron and the balconies. The range and command of his vocals draw as much or even perhaps more attention than the band's musicianship. Thin, energetic, mobile, he looks like a rock star.
A native of Hanford, California, a small town thirty-two miles southwest of Fresno ("a nice place") Perry last year bought a house in Marin County, a wealthy San Francisco suburb. Prior to that, Steve was on the road so much that during brief breaks, he'd stay with fellow band members or his parents.
"It was like why have a house, you know, I wasn't even there," he said recently. "I just decided I'd park my car down at my parents' house, grab my suitcase and be gone. I had no possessions, nothing to really warrant having home. I decided I would acquire some," he added.
Perry shares the house with someone he describes as "a very, very nice lady." They are still furnishing the house, but even after a year, there's still a lot of empty space. Chances are Perry will soon be back on the road, leaving the final decorating details to the aforementioned lady.
Journey's four 1980 concerts at Detroit's Cobo Hall were recorded for their latest album, Captured.
Some time before, Valory had said, "I would tend to think on the average, the stage performances are better than performances on the albums, sound wise and otherwise. Anyone who writes a song and attempts to literally freeze it in time on record will find that later in time, the song continues to grow and tends to become more unified and better performed as time goes on. Our performing end of things is a moving picture and a recording is still taken at a certain moment. As far as Journey goes, I'd say the performances are generally better and more exciting than the recordings. The performance is a better representation of Journey than songs on an album."
The two-record set, recorded last May, is the eight-year-old band's first live album. The collection features live renditions of the group's best known songs, and also includes two new songs. Dixie Highway is recorded live, and, according to Steve Perry, "is a tune about a guy who meets a girl hitchhiking on the highway." The Party's Over, which Perry describes as "a situation where a person is waiting for a phone call." was written in Detroit, but recorded live in a studio after the tour.
"In the hotel in Detroit one afternoon, I heard this guitar line in my head and I sang it to Neal. That afternoon, we jammed during the sound check at Cobo and found a melody. We had the tape rolling because we were recording that night anyway. The studio version sounds better, but not that different from what we started."
Journey's other new album is the soundtrack to a Japanese movie, Dream After Dream. The score, described by Perry as "the finest thing the band has come up with," is available as an import only. Journey wrote the music while on an American concert tour. The Japanese company, meanwhile, supplied the group with video cassettes of rough footage as they became available.
"It was one of the easiest things we'd ever done, because it was just a series of moods and expressions. We did some crazy things with sound effects, but there are actual songs as well. It's sort of an eerie film, also. It's got its mysteries and fantasies to it, too. It's really a good album."
Journey is now working out its new line up.
"We're looking at it with an optimism, that it's going to be fun, more fun than before." Perry offered. "I don't think the band is going through visions of inadequacy," he paused to laugh. "I don't think anything like that is going to come down. We're going to go out and do what we've always done.
"We've been lucky in many respects because we're still holding our ground and being ourselves, you know, and there's been a lot of people out there who like us for who we are. I'm just saying that we're going to continue playing the kind of music that we want to play and we hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do."
"This business can be pretty crazy sometimes," he concluded.
© Hit Parader, June 1981, Charlton Publications Inc.