‘That’s the way it goes’: Gregg Rolie’s first post-Journey album gave Eddie Money a hit

When Gregg Rolie returned from a brief retirement following his departure from Journey, he became the second — but not the last — big star who tried to make a hit of Billy Satellite’s 1984 song “I Wanna Go Back.”

The original take, co-written by members of Billy Satellite (which included future 38 Special guitarist Danny Chauncey), stalled at No. 78 on the Billboard charts. The third one, of course, became a No. 14 smash in 1986 for Eddie Money — with the addition of a squalling sax.

In between, “I Wanna Go Back” appeared as a slower, more contemplative track on Rolie’s radio-ready eponymous solo debut in 1985 — where it went absolutely nowhere. Rolie, going it alone then for the first time after co-founded two supergroups in Santana and then Journey, said the entire process was a learning experience. After dabbling in more overt pop sounds on Gregg Rolie, he returned to the grittier fare associated with those previous successes.

“I learned a lot, doing that first solo album,” Rolie said, in an exclusive SER Sitdown. “Before I had always relied on a band; I never had to design the whole thing. They were always a team effort, but when you go solo, it’s totally different. That was a new experience for me. I got better on the second one.”

Looking back, Rolie’s take on “I Wanna Go Back” certainly didn’t lack for star power: The track includes keyboardist Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band, as well as Jason Scheff — who would go on to replace Peter Cetera in Chicago — as a background singer. A fickle buying public, however, flocked to Money’s subsequent version anyway.

“I did it first, and he had a hit with it,” said Rolie, who is at work on a Santana reunion album these days. “That’s the way it goes.”

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.