‘I was kind of nervous’: Journey’s Neal Schon says it took a Stax legend to intimidate him

Neal Schon has been around plenty of guitar heroes over the years. He started, after all, in Carlos Santana’s band. And so it’s perhaps of little surprise that, when asked if a player ever humbled him, Schon says: “Maybe one time.”

Schon, who later co-founded Journey with fellow Santana alum Gregg Rolie, says he found himself in that rare moment — feeling intimidated — during a session more than 25 years ago.

“I was working with Michael Bolton in the late ’80s at the Record Plant in Sausalito,” Schon tells Classic Rock. “We were recording his version of ‘(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay.’ And right in the next room was Steve Cropper, who wrote the song with Otis Redding and played guitar on the original version. I’m going, ‘Shit!’ I was kind of nervous.”

Bolton’s take on “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” would go to No. 11 on the Billboard charts in 1988. The track appeared on 1987’s The Hunger, which also featured Journey’s Jonathan Cain as well as Journey touring members Randy Jackson (later of American Idol fame) and Michael Baird. Redding’s original, completed by Cropper after the singer’s death, went to No. 1 in 1968.

The classic-era lineup of Santana is set to reunite this year. Schon also has a new solo album, featuring Journey’s Deen Castronovo, due in May.

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