‘I have ultimate respect for the man’: Journey’s Neal Schon on his distant relationship with Steve Perry

Neal Schon, touring again with Journey after completing a pair of solo efforts and sitting in with Sammy Hagar, is never far away from questions about his old bandmate Steve Perry. He admits the two haven’t spoken since 2005 — though, at the same time, there are no lingering animosities, either.

“You know what? I say nice things about him, and he says nice things about me,” Schon tells Paul Cashmere of Noise11. “I think, all in all, I have ultimate respect for the man, and the voice that he has. I wish him the best, but we haven’t quite gotten around to speaking since we received the Hollywood Walk of Fame star.”

Perry, of course, helped launch Journey into platinum-selling status at the turn of the 1980s. Not that it always made so much sense for Schon, whose initial reaction to Perry was less than enthusiastic: “I said: ‘That guy’s got a great voice, but I don’t know if it’s us.’”

Journey, to that point, was what Schon describes as a “jam band on steroids,” playing volcanic live shows but putting out albums that barely sold. Their highest charting studio effort had been 1977′s Next, which got to only No. 85.

“We did the three records, and the CBS came to us and said: ‘If you don’t get a lead singer, we’re going to drop you,’” Schon remembers. “I thought we had a lead singer. We had Gregg Rolie, you know.”

With the release of 1978′s Infinity, Journey’s fourth album, it quickly became clear what they had: “We were off and running,” Schon admits. “Infinity went platinum, platinum and a half, then double platinum — and things just started to surge.”

Perry split with Journey in 1996, after career-defining successes like 1981′s Escape. His role has been filled by Arnel Pineda since 2007. Perry and Schon were joined at the 2005 walk of fame ceremonies by a group of Journey members, both past and present, that included Steve Augeri, Jonathan Cain, Deen Castronovo, Aynsley Dunbar, Robert Fleischman, Steve Smith, George Tickner and Ross Valory.

Journey’s month of UK dates continues tonight in Sheffield.

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