Keyboardist Jonathan Cain, still very emotional after three decades, remembers the terminally ill little boy who forever changed the context of Journey’s 1980s hit “Only the Young.”
Members of Journey gave the song, inside a Walkman, to Kenny Sykaluk during a hospital visit set up through the Make a Wish Foundation. Sykaluk died the next day, with the Walkman still in his hand.
“Back in 1983, when Make A Wish first began, one of the boys who was sick wanted to meet Journey,” Cain says in the attached One One 7 video. “He was in a cystic fibrosis clinic in Cleveland, and we went off to see him. We had no idea how bad he was, but he was dying. We got to spend the last day of his life with him. He passed the next day, and it stayed with me for a long time.”
“Only the Young” had been slated for inclusion on Journey’s 1983 album Frontiers, but was pulled in favor of the tune “Back Talk.” Finally released in 1985, as part of the soundtrack to the “Vision Quest” film, “Only the Young” would go to No. 9 on the Billboard charts.
This isn’t the first time Cain has spoken at length about the visit with Sykaluk.
“When we did VH1′s ‘Behind the Music,’ I was asked about the most powerful things that happened to me as a member of Journey, and it had to be with Kenny Sykaluk on that last day,” Cain adds.
Journey opened every concert on its subsequent Raised on Radio tour with “Only the Young.” A 2006 reissue of Frontiers included it as a bonus track.