According to Steve Perry, he was born in a hurry - and the race to get on with his life hasn't stopped yet. He can remember spending most of his childhood driving his dancer mom and salesman-singer dad absolutely "nuts", and being the "scrawniest" kid on the block to want to play rock 'n roll.
It wasn't easy being a rocker in Hanford, California, where Steve was born on January 22, 1953. People didn't always take him seriously, and his long mane of hair upset even some of his classmates at school. But he got plenty of support from his entertainment-minded parents, and later on, from his contractor step-dad who showed Steve how to hang in there while he worked on making his musical dreams come true.
Steve began his rock career as a drummer-singer doing a lot of country western songs. As with other aspiring young musicians, Steve belonged to a number of different bands as he made his way up, but even after his school years, earning his living with rock 'n roll presented a problem. To get by, Steve took many odd jobs that would still leave him plenty of time for his music - he helped his dad re-build sheds on a turkey ranch, he did general carpentry work, he made big lamps with grape clusters all over them and sold them for extra cash. Eventually, when Steve became an engineer in a recording studio - working the control board and handling tapes - he got just a bit closer to his goal.
Steve moved to Los Angeles and spent a long time bouncing around from rock club to rock club. Very few of them would allow him to come in and sing his own songs - they wanted people who sang well-established hits. That wasn't exactly what Steve had in mind, and he spent a lot of that excess energy of his keeping a roof over his head and talking his way into new jobs.
One band Steve Perry joined fell apart after one of its members was killed in an automobile accident. Later, while he was in a group with rocker Tim Bogert of Vanilla Fudge fame, Steve heard that Journey was looking for a lead singer (he'd already decided that drumming wasn't his main interest in music). Journey was trying to make a name for itself, plus, they'd just tried out a lead singer who'd not been able to shape up, so when they heard Steve's rich voice wrapped around some really way out musical notes, they knew he was their missing link!
That was three years ago, and Steve's personal race is still on. Since then he's helped give Journey some direction and three very popular albums - "Infinity", "Evolution" and "Departure". He hasn't slowed down any either he tends always to be full of excess energy! - but he certainly has found his musical home with Journey.
His private life has changed in the last three years too - Steve no longer lives out of a suitcase. Home base is a lovely new home in Sausalito, California that features resident squirrels and woodpeckers. After all these years of driving his folks "nuts," now Steve is being driven batty by his noisy animal friends! And although he recently bought himself a shiny Mercedes sports car, Steve still hangs on to his beat-up old Volkswagen, driving it every chance he gets. Long car trips during the short time he has off each year have become a very relaxing activity for Steve - he visits his family in Southern California - along with listening to his stereo and watching a bit of television. He doesn't have much time for sports, since he's still a workaholic when it comes to writing and singing music, and even his hopes to get in a little swimming at home were dashed when he couldn't buy his "dream" house with a pool behind it.
There is one activity that has managed to hook this hazel-eyed rocker, and that's experimenting in the kitchen. Steve's become a vegetarian - he eats no meat - and he loves mixing different grains, vegetables, cheeses and fruits into brand new and exciting concoctions. He says his Mexican cheese enchiladas are the best! Steve feels healthier than ever, and you can tell just by checking out his 5'8*, 129 pound 'bod! Even his favorite evening out is one that includes a scrumptious dinner, a lot of dancing, and a lot of laughs.
Steve's come a long, long way in a hurry - even though it took years to get there! - and there's nobody who's happier about it than he is. He loves getting your letters - and answering as many of them personally as possible! - 'cause those letters are one of his inspirations. And one of yours will be listening to this boy wonder on Journey's new double live LP. It features Journey favorites like "Hopelessly In Love" and "Dixie Highway," and is a very special feather in the cap of Journey's dynamite lead singer.
© 16 Magazine, March 1981, 16 Magazines, Inc.