Fame-the sweet smell of success.
Sounds great, doesn't it? Everywhere you go people know you. They also want you! But is being famous as great as it sounds? Is being famous what Steve thought it would be?
Steve Perry was born in the Northern California city of Hanford on January 22. His dad, Ray Perry, was a big band singer and very well-known. His mom, Mary, was also a great singer, "Until they took her tonsils out," explains Steve.
But being raised in a famous family isn't what gave Steve the desire to become a big success himself. It was the thrill he got from singing. That's all he ever really wanted to do, and he admits he starved trying to get there.
Before working with Journey, Steve had as array of odd jobs that included working as a carpenter on a turkey ranch and being a second engineer at Los Angeles' Crystal Studios.
To Steve joining Journey meant, "A giant leap from struggle, starvation, pyorrhea (a gum disease resulting from severe vitamin deficiencies) and malnutrition." What he didn't expect was having the burden of carrying the successes and failures of Journey on his shoulders!
Of course, not everything which goes on is Steve's responsibility, but being the front man - the person who speaks to the audience every night during a concert, the person most people identify with when they think of Journey - does have its downfalls!
Consider this: Whenever a critic takes a stab at the band, they nearly always mention Steve -rarely the other guys. Whenever a rumor is linked to the band, the rumors are usually about Steve - not the other guys - and it's all because Steve's the front man, the lead singer, the person everyone identifies with!
Take the most famed rumor of all - the rumor that Steve has cancer! How on earth did it start? Who knows? Even Steve isn't sure. It's disturbing to be sure and it's definitely not true!
"Steve came down with laryngitis one night and had to cancel a concert," says a member of the Nightmare staff, Journey's management company. "Maybe that's how the rumor started. People figured that because he had to cancel a concert it was something more than what was announced."
Or could the cancer rumor have started because Steve lowered his vocal range for the Frontiers album? The cancer rumor had been circulating and then Steve came out singing lower than before. Ah, ha! It must be true! At least that's what some fans incorrectly assumed.
"Steve actually lowered his vocal range for "Dream After Dream," a single which was only released as a Japanese import," explains the same Journey spokesperson.
"And that was a few years ago. It just wasn't until recently that "Dream" was released in the United States. Then on Frontiers his voice is also lower, so combining the rumor with the lower voice, fans maybe thought that Steve just couldn't hit the high notes anymore!"
But the truth of the matter is, Steve does not have cancer. He did have laryngitis the one night some time ago, and he lowered his vocal range for a change. It's that simple. But living with such depressing rumors is part of being famous - rumors follow those who are in the spotlight!
But fame's not all that bad. Don't think for a minute that Steve doesn't appreciate his fans or the opportunity they've given him.
Rather than starving and suffering from the previously mentioned pyorrhea, Steve's now living comfortably in a three-bedroom Northern California home, and he's got a luxurious Mercedes Benz car (although he's kept his yellow 1973 Volkswagen for sentimental value!).
But what is fame to Steve and what are its hazards and joys?
Fame is being able to play to a crowd of 16,000 fans night after night - something Steve loves. After all, isn't that why he got into the band in the first place?
Hazards? Being mobbed by a group of fans who've gotten out of control - having his hair ripped out, his clothes torn. That can get scary for anyone, including Steve.
"Steve is probably the most private member of Journey," everyone in the band agrees. He's always been private - it's not just an attitude he's acquired since he joined Journey back in 1977.
And even with all the pressures and criticisms of the press, Steve still loves his job. In fact, when he's asked about the band's outside projects, Steve admits that, "No matter what projects we do outside the group, Journey will always be the mothership. It'll go on and on. Journey is ready to rock its brains away and make a lot of people happy."
Obviously, even with all the pressures, the rumors, and the frequent lack of privacy, Steve is still doing it all for one reason - to sing and "make a lot of people happy."
But what would make Steve happy? Is Journey his only dream? Is this where his life begins and ends?
Not quite. He does have one aspiration yet to be fulfilled. "I'd give anything to sing with a symphony. I'd love to pick some melodic contemporary songs and do them with a lot of strings."
It's a safe bet that for Steve, fame is worth its frustrations. Fame - even with the pressures and rumors - Steve wants to keep it.
© Bop - December 1983