Gregg Rolie opens up about leaving Journey: ‘I don’t think Steve Perry liked me singing’

Gregg Rolie, went from fronting Journey to playing a secondary vocal role in the space between two albums — 1977’s Next and 1978’s Infinity. Credit, and he says some blame, goes to the arrival of Steve Perry.

Certainly, Perry’s arrival turned Journey’s pop fortunes. Previously known as a volcanic jam band, Journey had fashioned a more prog-focused update of the Santana sound that Gregg Rolie and (during later incarnations) Neal Schon had helped create before splitting off to found Journey. But the highest any of their initial three Journey recordings had gotten on the Billboard album charts was a paltry No. 85, with Next.

The next year’s Infinity — powered by newcomer Perry’s vocals on tracks like “Lights” and “Wheel in the Sky” — would, of course, shoot into the Top 25, eventually going triple platinum. Their commercial fortunes had changed for good. Yet key tracks like “Feeling That Way,” “Anytime” (both from Infinity) and “Just the Same Way” (from 1979’s Evolution) illustrated that Rolie still had plenty to contribute, even in this next iteration.

By 1980, however, he was out — having shared little of the spotlight, save for the melancholy track “Someday Soon,” on that year’s Departure album. Rolie has consistently blamed burn out for his exit, just as Journey went into the commercial stratosphere with albums like 1981’s Escape and 1983’s Frontiers. He says he wanted to start a family, to settle down after launching two separate world-traveling acts.

But that doesn’t mean Rolie couldn’t sense that things were changing in the band, anyway. He can’t help but feel Perry was slowly pushing him away.

“I always wanted to sing a song or two, a couple would have been nice but then it got less and less,” Rolie tells Rock Cellar. “I don’t think Perry liked me singing. It was never discussed but I really think that’s what was happening.”

Something Else!

Something Else!

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, and, among others. Contact Something Else! at
Something Else!
  • Terri Geer

    If it was never discussed, why would he think this?

    • gary

      Just so I got this right. YOU have never had thoughts about things that were never discussed? You’re an amazing person!

    • magnumpi

      Ever hear of being able to read between the lines?

      • That is also called making assumptions without facts to back it up.

        • Lee Sowthe

          All good points. Maybe it was a difficult thing to discuss. Leaves us all wondering what could have been….

  • kotosquito

    The very best Journey songs, in my opinion, were the ones featuring the voice of both Perry AND Rolie. The balanced each other off, nicely, and gave the songs a greater range and thus more originality.

    • Lee Sowthe

      Totally agree.

    • Ailsa Nordstrom

      Yep, was about to say the same thing.

  • Gregg was an adult professional. If he wanted a larger part of singing then he should have asserted himself.

  • tizbad

    I have all of their album and having to hear them singing in the past to present day. I still belive that Greg Rolie and Steve Perry sang together so well even though their voices was different which I agree with Kotosquito it balanced itself out nicely. My guess Rolie just thought he was losing his spotlight since Steve came in the picture. If he had really questioned that thought all he had to do was ask nicely, I’m sure he would have been in this band still if he hadn’t thought he was being pushed out. But again every band has their own fallouts and starting out new with someone else…. Just like David Lee Roth for example…

  • Alexandra_8

    And Steve then went on to take over the band. Wrote some great songs and some great albums.