Name: Stephen Ray Perry
Born: January 22, 1949
Birthplace: Hanford, California
Mother: Mary Perry
Father: Raymond Perry
Siblings: Only Child
Musical Influences: Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, Marion Reynolds, and Diana Ross
Musical Instruments Played: Drums, piano, guitar, and bass
I Was Born a Believer
The first of his Portuguese family to be American born, Stephen Ray Perry was delivered to Mary (nee Quaresma) and Ray on January 22, 1949 in Hanford, California; a small town in the San Joaquin Valley. His parents' families had arrived some years earlier in the USA from their native island of Pico in the Azores archipelago. Although Steve was an only child, it seems that his extended family were a close unit. Steve grew up fluent in both English and Portuguese, and by his own accounts was an energetic child with a love for music. As Steve relates, "I think I always wanted to sing...my folks were into music..." Steve recalls that very early in his life, three years old, he knew that he and music were meant to be together, ""my mother was a can-can dancer, and my dad sang an Al Jolson song. I'd look up, and my dad would be singing, and something inside me told me I had that inside me, too. I knew I could do it. I liked it."
Steve's family made their home in Hanford for the first few years of Steve's life. Steve attended school there, although he admits he was not, initially, an attentive student! His own anecdotes paint a picture of an active and energetic boy, "born in a hurry" in a secure family unit, although his account of nearly falling into a crater when visiting the Azores shows his adventurous side! Sadly, the call of the road was too much for Steve's father Ray, who left when Steve was 7 years old, an event which Steve later described as "a rock and roll story of its time" . Steve credits Hanford and the San Joaquin Valley with inspiring his love of music, " a lot of things do come from the San Joaquin Valley where I come from! The people that I was listening to, I lived there my whole life. Everything from Motown music to the first time I heard a Led Zeppelin record. There's an awful lot of history in my musical exposure back there."
Despite the absence of his father, Steve still seems to have thrived with the support of his mother and grandparents, and he admits he turned to music: "If you want to know the God's truth, music saved my life. My father left when I was seven years old, and he was everything to me. It gave me something to really dive into, and it saved my life and continues to do so."
Raised On Radio
"I was obsessed with music when I was a kid. I used to sit by the radio, listening to anything "
Steve has often mentioned his continuing fascination with radio, describing himself as a button pusher. One of the seminal moments of his radio-listening though was being with his mother in her car at Pismo Beach in California, and hearing Sam Cooke for the first time. "First time I heard Sam Cooke, I was in Pismo Beach, in my Mother's Thunderbird driving down the street, you know, and I heard "Cupid" come on the radio and I about died, you know."
When Steve was 14, his mother met and married Marv, who was to prove a strong influence in Steve's life. Marv and Mary supported Steve in his musical endeavours, "They bought me a drum kit, and they didn't yell at me when I'd sing in the shower." The family moved to nearby Lemoore, where Steve attended the local High School, being mentioned in their Yearbooks for his Marching Band activities (where Steve was a drummer), Track and the Announcement Committee. Steve reflects that he was teased about his nose, earning the nickname Beaky Peartree, "The "Beaky" part is for my nose, and the "Peartree" comes from my real last name which is Portuguese and was changed by my family a long time ago - it's Perrera and it means peartree!"
Meanwhile, Steve's inchoate musical career was developing, as he joined with friends in groups. He performed in a local Barbershop Quartet, entertaining at functions. Other musical excursions included The Nocturnes, Dollar Bills, and Ice. One group in particular met with some success; The Sullies, in which Steve played drums and sang, was managed by Steve's mom and won the Battle of the Bands in Calaveras County, outperforming 80 other bands. During this time, Steve determined that "I decided to get off drums; my voice was improving more than my drumming was " . He still has fond memories of his bandmates though, and remained friends with them: Dave Geffken was "still playing better than ever in Huntington, West Virginia." . Guitarist Rick Stephens was "still playing and is one of the best guitarists around Porterville, California." Keyboardist Bill Bilhou was "known to his friends as 'Magic Fingers'!"
The Sullies actually recorded an album which was distributed locally, "so we could feel like somebody." , but ultimately, they disbanded.
After graduating from High School, Steve attended the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California, where he took band, choir and speech classes, and was first tenor in their choir. Steve believes that the discipline and training he received at this time helped him manage his voice, "I have to say that did help, in retrospect. We would warm up everyday, do scales, etc."
Steve also contemplated a career as a DJ: "When I was seventeen I thought a radio station was good place to come in contact with the record business. Back then you had to have a third class license to be a DJ. and then you could work certain hours. I wanted to get into that so I went to San Francisco to try to take my test with the F.C.C. You had to study for the test and learn all kinds of equations, and you had to have a slide rule and the whole deal. At the time I was about as bright as a pink plastic soap dish on a slide rule so I flunked the test, I did want to be a DJ, though."
The lure of a music career outweighed the benefits of a continuing education though, and after 2 years at college, Steve moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream.
Arriving in L.A., Steve started "getting into rock bands and tried to make musical statements." but found that his motivation and ambition was not always matched by the people he encountered there, "Their minds were not career-oriented. They were partying musicians and not thinking any further than that. Every time I turned around, they would be late, not show up for rehearsals, that kind of thing."
Needing to pay the bills, Steve took work as second engineer at Crystal Studios in L.A., which had the benefit of feeding his fascination with recording studios, "I love studios." Unfortunately, his hopes of hooking up with like-minded musicians by this route were not fulfilled, and eventually, he decided to leave the position and continue to seek a break as a musician.
Steve performed with a variety of bands and worked with a number of musicians in his early 20s. He didn't confine himself to Los Angeles, either. At one time he was a vocalist with a Toronto based band called Privilege .
It is clear that Steve made a lot of contacts with musicians on the L.A. scene during the early-to-mid 1970s though. People like Tim Bogart (of Vanilla Fudge), blues guitarist Forrest McDonald and drummer Craig Krampf numbered amongst his acquaintance and were to feature in his later career. Steve recorded vocals on a Forrest McDonald song, "It's Over" during this time, and the song later appeared on Forrest's 1994 CD, I Need You. "Meeting and working with Steve Perry was certainly memorable," Forrest later said in an interview . Bands, one of which was called Pieces, came and went until finally, Steve found himself part of a line-up which seemed to be on the fast track to success.
In 1977, Steve and Craig Krampf were involved in putting a band together which they named Alien Project. Krampf says, " when the four of us played, it was magic. We were literally three hours old when Chrysalis wanted to sign us. We were 6 hours old when Chrysalis and Columbia wanted to sign us." This was on the strength of a demo tape, one song from which eventually surfaced on Steve's Greatest Hits + 5 collection, entitled "If You Need Me, Call Me". Other songs on this demo tape are known to be "Come On and Love Me", "Running for Love" and "Special Kind Of Love". This seemed to be the band which would give Steve his big break. Tragically, on the eve of signing a recording contract, Alien Project's bassist, Richard Michaels, lost his life in an automobile accident on 4th of July 1977. Richard's death hit Steve hard, and he felt he couldn't continue with Alien Project under the circumstances. Craig Krampf recalls, "in retrospect, he (Steve) was probably right. The band had magic. He said it would never be the same."
Steve took a leave of absence and went back to the San Joaquin Valley to consider his options. Since Steve was short of money, his stepfather, Marv, gave him work as a carpenter, repairing turkey coops. "I hated it," Steve later admitted, but also confesses, "I worked with him building sheds on a turkey ranch and doing other odd jobs, and I learned a lot about working with my hands, and about how important it is to take pride in your work."
Arguably, his experience with turkeys convinced Steve that he needed to give music another try; that and the unconditional support of his mother, who exhorted him not to give up. Fortuitously, his Alien Project demo tape had found its way into the hands of executives at Columbia and thence to Walter "Herbie" Herbert, the manager of a San Francisco based band called Journey.
Don't Stop Believin'
Ironically, while Alien Project were in the ascendant, Journey, formed in 1973 around Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie, were in decline, Columbia threatening to drop them unless sales improved. Journey was a progressive rock band who had made a name for themselves for their live shows, but were not enjoying the necessary radio airplay to attract record buyers. Neal Schon says, "With Infinity, we were told to get a lead singer and go in a more commercial direction or we'd be fired from the label"
Steve Perry had previously met Neal, and had even asked Journey whether they needed a singer back in 1976, before Alien Project came together. At that time, seeing themselves as a primarily instrumental outfit, they declined. However, the label's ultimatum meant a radical re-think, and it was around this time that Steve's Alien Project demo arrived on Herbie's desk. Initially, the Journey guys were dismissive. "This guy's a crooner," Gregg Rolie reflected on VH1's Behind The Music, "we wanted a screamer". However, Herbie insisted that Steve was joining the band, "get used to it!" Steve picks up the story: ""One day I got a call from Gregg. He suggested getting together with him and Neal to see if we could write some tunes. We did, and it came out real well." Neal also remembers, "When I met Steve I knew I'd met him twice before, he'd even come backstage at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go to ask if we were looking for a singer! So we took him out on tour with us for a week, he and I roomed together, and we started writing, and "Patiently" and "Lights" both came out of that in about ten minutes each. We had clicked."
The result of this was that Steve was asked to join Journey on a permanent basis. Shortly afterwards, the band went into the studio, and Infinity was recorded, produced by Roy Thomas Baker, and rewarded the band and the label with a massive increase in sales, propelling Journey towards stardom. Reviewing Infinity, Kerrang Magazine noted that Steve has the "power to make you, the listener, totally believe in what he is singing about. " Meanwhile, Journey started performing to a larger audience and attracting more and more column inches in the music press of the time. British music magazine Sounds observed that Infinity featured "ten straight-ahead, cunningly constructed and infernally memorable songs (boosted by the arrival of one Steve Perry and his crystal clear vocal work)"
Steve's career with Journey was only just beginning though, and the band embarked on relentless touring in addition to producing a new album each year in 1979, 1980 and 1981. Evolution, in 1979 really continued where Infinity left off, with Roy Thomas Baker once again credited with production. His actual influence seems open to some doubt though. Steve explains, "This is the honest-to-God truth, Roy was out driving in his Rolls Royce or doing shopping half the time we were recording 'Evolution'. It's really just produced by us and Geoffrey Workman." Evolution was another huge seller and also the album which featured Journey's first Top 20 hit, "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'" penned and performed by Steve, and destined to become a standard of the band's live shows. Evolution also saw the release of Aynsley Dunbar from drumming duties, and the recruitment of Steve Smith, a drummer arguably more comfortable with the concept of playing behind a vocalist. Smith remembers, "I had to tune into what he was doing and think, 'What would I do if I were singing? How would the beat sit right so I could sing easily over this?' "
This line-up completed the 1980 album Departure and subsequently released the live album Captured, also very successful. Then, Gregg Rolie announced his retirement, and ex-Babys keyboard player Jonathan Cain was drafted into Journey as his replacement. Steve Perry and Jon began writing together and a classic songwriting partnership was born. Amongst their early compositions were "Open Arms" and "Who's Crying Now", both extremely successful singles taken from Journey's 1981 Escape album.
Perry wrote the chorus of ("Who's Crying Now") driving from Bakersfield to San Francisco, singing into a cassette recorder. He went to Cain's house, rain pouring down in sheets outside, with the whole song in his head. He hummed the song to Cain and guided him through the piano part. Cain suggested the tune sounded like "a somebody done somebody wrong song" and said "Who's crying now?" The pair finished the song that afternoon.
"Open Arms" nearly didn't make it onto Escape; "They were opposed to the ballad," said Perry. "Neal hated the idea" , although Neal later said, "Now, in retrospect, I realise why everybody liked it, because it's a beautiful song. So many people have covered it. I only wish I had written it." .
An extensive tour behind Escape followed, and the album became the first (and only) of Journey's albums to get to Number 1 on the USA album charts; an honour which occurred in late August 1981. Steve Perry was becoming hugely famous as Journey's front-man. The band were financially successful, and there looked to be no decline in their future. The Escape tour continued well into 1982, following which Journey went back into the studio to record Frontiers.
Frontiers featured a new sound from Steve, a deliberate attempt to sing in a lower, edgier way: "It was a very conscious decision on my part," Perry explained. "I think that the first thing that someone can get tired of in a band is the vocals. If you don't try to change them a bit, that sound can get very tiring. I was anxious to try and use my lower range more and on Frontiers I've done just that."
Frontiers was supported by another lengthy and successful tour, and was further boosted by a video produced by NFL Films, Frontiers And Beyond, illustrating the band's life on the road. However, various members of the band related that cracks had started to appear in their relationships with each other. Steve said, "I don't think anybody had the guts to just say maybe it's something intelligent to do, like we should just stop."
Steve continues, "At that point, I think that we had worked so hard. I think that we were, as a group, seeing so much of each other. We had made some money. We were actually starting to run into some conflicts, which would just be normal. That's what happens in bands. So, but it was at the middle of that Frontiers tour, maybe even before the Frontiers and definitely at the end of the Frontiers tour, we were pretty stressed and I was burnt. "
Neal concurs, "We got fed up with each other and with living out of a suitcase and by that time everyone had enough money to say they just didn't want to do it again for a while."
These stresses resulted in a lengthy break for Journey while the members dispersed and worked on individual projects. Steve took the opportunity to record his first solo album, Street Talk, a massive success. Steve's solo projects weave in and out of his Journey career. After the Frontiers tour, he took a six month vacation from Journey to write and record Street Talk. Released in April 1984, this was the culmination of a long term ambition for him: "It seems like I've been waiting all of my life for this,"
Steve saw the opportunity to make an album where the "main difference between Street Talk and a Journey album is that my songs are more romantic and personal. They have more of the emotionalism that you associate with early Motown songs." Steve assembled a group of writers and musicians around him. Some, like Craig Krampf, were people with whom he'd worked in his pre-Journey days. Others had not previously met Steve, and there was some apprehension about how Steve would be to work with. Steve reminisces, "It was only natural, they thought I might come to the studio acting like a big-time rock star and starting ordering them around. I was the complete opposite. Once everyone sat down for a pizza and beer, which are my personal vices, all the tension was gone." Together, they put together a strong set of songs, which Steve wrote or co-wrote, and which he co-produced. On its release, it climbed the charts, and the very first single, "Oh Sherrie" was a Number 3 hit. Steve insisted that his solo achievements did not mean an end to Journey, "Journey is and will remain the mothership," he explained. "It'll go on and on."
Following the success of Street Talk, Steve embarked on writing and recording a second solo album, putatively entitled Against The Wall. Unfortunately, changes within the record company, plus Steve's return to Journey duties, conspired to preclude the release of this album. Tracks which have subsequently surfaced on Greatest Hits + 5 suggest that it would have been a magnificent work.
If Only For The Moment
During Journey's extended hiatus in 1984-85, Steve was involved in the high profile USA For Africa project, organised by such industry heavyweights as Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson. Not only was Steve given the honour of being a soloist on the "We Are The World" single, but he also contributed a song to the project, "If Only For The Moment, Girl".
Manager Ken Kragen relates, ""Basically, I started at the top of the record chars and began making phone calls", he says. Steve Perry, lead singer and creative heart of Journey, came home to a message on his telephone answering machine. "Sign me up", he said."
On the evening of January 28th 1985, "Steve Perry, lead singer of Journey, hurries into the control room, peers through the window at Michael (Jackson). He asks, "Am I dreaming?""
The event affected Steve deeply. Life magazine reported, "Lionel Richie's house. Lionel has been sleeping since 10:00 a.m. The phone rings. It's Steve Perry, calling from his L.A. hotel room. Perry says he just had to call somebody. Lionel asks him what's wrong. Perry says that he slept well. He got up and ordered room service. They brought him breakfast. He sat down. He pulled the silver cover off the food. And then he started crying. *
The endeavour was rewarded not only by raising gratifyingly large amounts of money for the charity, but also with four nominations at the following year's Grammy Awards. Steve (and the others involved in the project) won all four categories in which they were nominated.
However, decisions remained to be made about Journey's future. Speaking in 1985, Steve said, "To be perfectly honest, I think the band is ready to get excited about itself again, It needed something to rejuvenate itself, and I believe the hiatus was what we all needed. It's been healthy, very healthy, and the projects in between have been good for us all."
Why Can't This Night Go On Forever
Steve's joy in seeing Street Talk meeting with immediate success, though, had been clouded by personal and family issues. His long term relationship with girlfriend Sherrie (for whom Steve's hit single was named) became troubled. Steve explained, " it's very easy to be truly in love with someone but not be able to work it out." Steve's mother, Mary, was diagnosed with a serious neurological illness and ultimately passed away on December 4th 1985. Steve recalls, "It was a very difficult year for the band alone, not to mention that the lead singer of the band was going through an awful lot of emotional bleeding and I'm just glad now that Mom's not being hurt, tortured or humiliated anymore, so that's great. I could be selfish and wish she was here, but I wouldn't want to put her through that..."
It wasn't until 1986 that Journey were to complete Raised On Radio, produced by Steve Perry. Regrettably, Steve Smith and Ross Valory left the band during the making of this record, a decision Steve later admitted probably should not have been made: "Having had those circumstances in front of me today, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't've done it. Seemed like a good idea at the time. That was one of those situations when music just dictated again, and, boy, I had to have it."
However, Raised On Radio was eventually released on April 21st 1986. The trimmed-down Journey embarked on a tour with sidemen Michael Baird and Randy Jackson driving the percussion engine, but the rifts which had appeared during the Frontiers period were still there. The group was described as "filled with talent, tension and ego" and Steve admits that he had been ambivalent about doing another Journey album: "Well, Jon called me on the phone, and said there were unfinished songs that weren't written. And, it can't be over yet, because there seems to be too much of a creative drive, and, basically, that was some of the reasoning; but mainly, my mother was very ill, as I mentioned earlier, and she could barely speak at all, and I posed it to her, I said, "I'm dumb-founded which way to go; what would you do?" And she said she'd do another Journey album, basically, and so that's why we got together and why we did a Journey album."
The USA leg of the tour commenced in August 1986, to gratifyingly full stadiums. However, the continuing conflicts and difficulties in Steve's personal life took their toll. By early 1987, Steve felt that he could not continue and broke the news to Jon and Neal. . "I couldn't make them understand," he says regretfully. "But I needed to get off the merry-go-round. I didn't sing a note for two years."
Perhaps Jon Cain summed it up best, "He'd bleed a little every time he sang. I think he was tired of bleeding."
Against The Wall
Steve recalls, "The first year or so I didn't listen to music, I didn't write music, and I didn't sing anything because I just didn't have anything to sing about. I just hung out with my friends and tried to re-enter my life again. And at times it felt like I was re-entering the earth's atmosphere because I didn't realize how high we were. (pauses) After two years went by, I finally started to write music again. I recorded music and years went by and I just had to stay away."
Following his departure from Journey in 1987, Steve attended the Bay Area Music Awards, but watched Journey perform with Michael Bolton in the lead singer slot. Following that, he dipped out of the public eye, dealing with family, and re-establishing friendships. Steve also admitted that he used the opportunity for personal reflection and growth, "But the main thing is there's nowhere to hide, there's nowhere to run because where ever you are, there you are!"
Steve stayed in contact with the Journey Force fan club, though, and it is clear that he did begin working on new music after a while, in addition to joining Jon and Neal onstage in 1991 at the Bill Graham tribute concert in San Francisco, performing "Lights" and "Faithfully" for the assembled crowd.
Some of his projects included writing songs with Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme, "I asked Randy (Jackson) if Nuno's name really was Bettencourt and he said, "Yeah it is" and I said, "You know that's a Portuguese name" and he said, "Yeah, he's Portuguese." I finally got a number on him and called his mom. I left a message for him because he was on tour with Extreme. He speaks Portuguese and so do I, so we started talking and became friends on the phone."
Steve also worked with ex-David Lee Roth guitarist, Jason Becker, during this period. Jason says, "Steve Perry called me. We mostly talked about my ALS. He was very kind and easy to talk to. We were going to get together to jam one day. I brought my guitar and had a bunch of ideas but I was very nervous about my weak guitar playing. He could sense this so he just took me out to lunch and to a movie. He made me feel very comfortable and at ease. He had to help me in and out of the car because my legs shook so much. We talked a lot about music. The way we feel about or own music is very similar. We are both very technically advanced musicians and even though we both always have played from the heart, we still are maturing musically. He now continues to be a very good friend and inspiration."
Some Are Believers
Eventually, the need to create his own music was to motivate Steve once more." After two years went by, I finally started to write music again. I recorded music and years went by and I just had to stay away. I just didn't know if emotionally, I had a place in any of this that was going on. I finally realized that I am what I am, and went back to what I am, and didn't let anything steer me off who and what I am. That's what finally made me make the record."
Cyndi Poon (of Journey Force) put Steve in touch with ex-Winger keyboard player Paul Taylor: "I had just gotten my cellular phone, and I gave you (Steve) the number the day before. You called my cellular early that morning just to hassle us. You were bugging me about 'the question' and I said, "Don't you have anything better to do, like write a song? Call Paul Taylor. He wants to write with you." Steve made the call and said of Paul, "He had a sense of melodics in his chord changes that I had not heard before, and I liked a lot,"
Steve describes how he found Lincoln Brewster and Moyes Lucas Jr for the Strange Medicine Band: "I found Lincoln Brewster, the guitar player, through Randy Jackson. Randy is now the main West Coast cheese for Sony Music. He knew I had been looking for a guitar player for a long time. There were so many people in this town that could play a lot of chops but they really had no feel."
Of Moyes, Steve remembers, "We went through quite a few drummers, but no one was right. One day we were jamming and trying people out when this guy, Moyes, knocks on the door and says he would like to audition. I looked over at the drummer that was playing at the moment and I realized that if I cut him a little short and then pushed the next guy back a little bit, we could work Moyes in. He came in and set up and we could tell from watching him tune up his kit that he was different. We knew right away. We started jamming and writing a song."
The result was a new CD and a tour. Of the tracks on For The Love Of Strange Medicine, Steve observes, "The lyrics on this record are all about truthful experiences-things that are going on in my life." In a press release from the Columbia Media department at the time, Steve added, "More times than I'd care to mention, I have hinged my happiness on outside stuff - strange medicine. Whether it's gambling, or relationships, or a new car, or winning the lotto, whatever. It's all strange medicine because it only works so long. It's basically about all the things we do for the love of strange medicine."
The CD also contained the song, "Anyway", in which Steve " wanted to pay respect and I wanted to talk about my portion of the insanity of the relationship with my ex-compatriots." This poignant song might have been one of the factors which resulted in Journey re-forming after 8 years apart.
While Steve was touring with the Strange Medicine Band during late 1994 and early 1995, Sony Records' Senior Vice President of A&R, John Kalodner, started contacting the disparate members of Journey in hopes of a reconciliation. The label must have felt that, with Steve once again recording and performing, there could be a renaissance of Journey's success. Kalodner's coaxing and influence paid off when the Journey members agreed to get together. Steve said, "underneath it all, I was missing more and more being the singer in Journey than I ever thought I would." Steve agreed to contact Jon Cain, who in turn contacted Neal Schon, and they agreed to get together and see whether they could resurrect the songwriting 'spark'.
Steve said, "All through the separated times, I, truly in my heart, wanted to be the singer in Journey again, because I knew that was an identity that was most comfortable to me. The band brought something out in me that I couldn't get out by myself, and it brought something out in them that they couldn't get without me."
Songwriting began, and the chemistry was still there, "instantaneous," recalls Steve Smith, who with Ross Valory was brought back to reunite Journey's "classic" 1981-83 line up. Journey signed with a major West Coast manager, Irving Azoff, and John Kalodner introduced them to producer Kevin Shirley with whom they were to record the new album. Shirley said, "They were magnificent musicians. The cool thing was when we got into the studio, they just played the songs."
Steve Perry remarked, "We joked with each other that the good news is, not a lot has changed. The bad news is, not a lot has changed."
The result of the exercise was Trial By Fire, which entered the US charts at #3. Steve said, "I was actually dancing around the office at my house. I couldn't believe it." A Grammy nomination for the single "When You Love A Woman" ensued, and a tour was being discussed. "There's been a lot of talk about touring again, and we've talked amongst ourselves about that. There's a good possibility that we're going to be on tour sometime in the summer," Steve said. However, fans' euphoria was not to last.
Steve's reservations about a long term Journey were still apparent, ""I don't know if I want to pick up where I left off. The music business can be a choke chain, and you have to be aware of that, especially when you still have a few marks around your neck from it,"
In addition, health issues occurred which were to prevent Steve from fulfilling touring duties. ".during a hike between the end of the album and the starting of the rehearsals I had a problem that arose that was really bad as I was coming down the mountain, and um, that started a whole series of doctors, and ya know surgery is not a group decision. otherwise I'll buy and let's all go do it."
Steve was diagnosed with a degenerative condition which was affecting his hip. One solution was radical surgery, although Steve and his doctors hoped to avoid that. The search for a cure took some time, meanwhile Journey's plans for touring and continuing as a unit were on hold. Ultimately, Neal and Jon were to ask Steve to allow them to replace him and tour with a new line-up. Steve recalls that he was unhappy with this proposition: "don't crack the stone .. don't fracture the name Journey" , he appealed.
Journey pressed ahead, though, and engaged Steve Augeri as their new lead vocalist. Jon Cain paid tribute to Steve Perry: "He could have made it really difficult, but he chose not to. He showed a lot of class by letting us go on."
Steve explained, "I do wish everybody well, I think everyone is really doing what they really feel is right, and that means myself. And I think them too."
Steve eventually had the necessary surgery, subsequently referring to himself as "a titanium boy" .when doing promotion for his Greatest Hits + 5 collection. This release finally allowed fans to hear some of the tracks which had originally been destined for the ill-fated Against The Wall project. Steve "thought this was a great opportunity to put all of this unreleased stuff that I'm very proud of."
In addition to Greatest Hits + 5, Steve has also worked on a number of other projects since leaving Journey. He was asked to provide the singing voice for King Arthur for the animated movie Quest For Camelot (King Arthur's speaking voice was provided by Pierce Brosnan) and released one of the songs, "I Stand Alone" as a single. The accompanying performance video can still be obtained on the Special Edition DVD release.
In recent years, Steve has also been working with Hawaiian artist Tommy Tokioka, and guests on two tracks on Tommy's 2000 release, Happy To Be Living, as well as adding backing vocals to Nikki Sixx's protégées, Laidlaw, on their First Big Picnic CD.
More recently, (January 2002) Steve was reported to be writing with ex-Ambrosia vocalist David Pack. Two songs were said to have been completed, "Almost A Brand New Start" and "For A Woman".. David, at the time, said ""Steve is one of my favourite people on the planet...amazing person, amazing writing intuition, amazing voice...he's the best, and we truly enjoy working together" . Regrettably, these songs have not yet been released.
2003 seems to have been a busy year for Steve, too. Visiting his friend, drummer Steve Ferrone, in a studio in Los Angeles, Steve was moved to add a vocal to a track on the most recent Jeff Golub release, Soul Sessions. Jeff tells the story, "One really cool thing that happened as a result of this atmosphere of friends coming in and out is that one day Steve Perry stopped in to say hi to his friend Steve Ferrone ( one of the perks of having a "Drummer to the Stars" playing with you). We all thought it was pretty cool just to have the singer from "Journey" at the studio. We were recording a ballad that I had written and during a play back Steve says to me "Man, I could really here this vocal line going along with your guitar". Of course I had the engineer set up a microphone immediately and the next thing you know, I've got STEVE PERRY singing on my record!!! How cool is that!!!!!"
Meanwhile, Steve worked on production duties for a new, long-awaited Journey DVD, featuring many of their singles over the years. Steve related, "Around July of this year, I got a phone call from John Kalodner asking if I was interested in overseeing the production of a Journey Greatest Hits DVD. This would include many of the music videos that Journey has put together and some live performances. Immediately, I thought this was an amazing idea, but there would be logistical problems to overcome. Though the visuals are great, the audio of today has far surpassed the original sound on those tapes. All the tracks have been digitally remastered, some of which came from the Essential CD. Between Michael Rubenstein on the east coast and myself on the west coast, all the old, original audio tracks on the videos were replaced with the digitally remastered tracks. Now the old videos have an incredible, fresh, new sound that they never had before. John Kalodner wanted to make sure it was the best product it could possibly be with today's technology and these videos have never looked or sounded so good."
The DVD was released on November 25, 2003 and has since gone platinum (on April 2, 2004). Steve is still working with John Kalodner on other DVD projects, which are eagerly awaited.
During late 2003, Steve's public profile has also been raised due to his involvement with the music for the Patty Jenkins movie, Monster. Originally asked just to allow "Don't' Stop Believin'" on the film's soundtrack, Steve became involved and was eventually named Music Consultant on the film's credits. "I was invited to go up to LA to watch them dub the song into the film. I had the pleasure of meeting Patty Jenkins (writer and director), Charlize Theron (who plays Aileen) and one of the most brilliant music composers I've ever met, B.T. The music of this film is so emotional and powerful that B.T. has inspired me. They asked me to hang out as long as I wanted.so I did. A month later (laughs) we were hanging out everywhere together. I loved watching the intensity of the creative process between Patty, Charlize & B.T. From time to time, Patty asked me what I thought about certain pre-recorded music in the film so I presented her options from different artists, past and present. I really enjoyed participating in this side of the project. Later Patty and B.T. insisted on me giving me Music Consultant credit. I was stunned."
It remains to be seen whether the future holds any new music from Steve. He doesn't see himself returning to Journey, although he has consistently asserted "never say never". But in December 2003, he admitted, "whether or not we stand together anywhere again has got to be difficult for me to say."