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Journey and Steve Perry: History of 'Don't Stop Believin' Band

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Formed in 1973 by former members of Santana, Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon, Journey is a rock band based in San Francisco, California. After years of struggling as a prog rock backing band, they decided to hire a more mainstream vocalist to increase their chances of success. When Steve Perry came on as frontman, the band started producing hits: best known for soaring arena rock anthems like "Don’t Stop Believin’" and power ballads like "Open Arms," Journey had over a decade of victories before acrimony within the band broke them up. Today, Journey continues to tour and record with Perry sound-alike vocalist Arnel Pineda. In honor of the release of their "Frontiers" album on February 22nd, 1983, takes a look at the history of Journey.

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History of Journey

They’ll play it “Any Way You Want It.” Welcome to, and today we’re taking a look at the history of Journey.

Early Days

Rock band Journey formed in San Francisco, California in 1973. Keyboardist Gregg Rolie and guitarist Neal Schon came from Santana, where Rolie’s vocals appeared on tracks like “Black Magic Woman.” Joined by bassist Ross Valory, drummer Aynsley Dunbar, and others off-and-on, they started backing local acts.

New Frontman

Four years and three unsuccessful prog rock albums later, Journey was looking for a frontman. They softened their progressive sound and in 1977 looked to Robert Fleischman to fill the void. But, after helping pen the hit “Wheel in the Sky,” he was fired.

Steve Perry

Steve Perry was then tapped as his replacement. Later nicknamed The Voice by Jon Bon Jovi, Perry brought crisp, tenor vocals that blended perfectly with Schon’s riffs, Rolie’s keys and their distinctive harmonies. This new pop edge and mainstream likeability appeared on 1978’s platinum-certified Infinity, which included the standard Journey power ballad “Lights.”


Soon, Dunbar was dismissed and joined another local band, Jefferson Starship. Jazz drummer Steve Smith was in his place when 1979’s Evolution dropped, and its second single was Journey’s first to crack Billboard’s top 20.


1980’s Departure hit number eight on Billboard, aided by the arena rock anthem “Any Way You Want It” and its use in “Caddyshack.” Things were accelerating for the band, despite disapproving music critics.

Departure of Gregg Rolie

Journey then showcased their spectacular musicianship on the live album Captured and the less-mainstream Dream, After Dream soundtrack. Both were recorded during their world tour, but they were the last to feature Gregg Rolie who quit in 1980.


With Jonathan Cain in his place, Journey issued Escape in 1981. The album topped charts, sold 12 million units, and was eventually certified nine-times platinum. It was also labeled the greatest arena rock album ever, with several top 10 hits.

“Open Arms”

But it was “Open Arms” that made the biggest splash: that powerful love song stayed at number two for six weeks, despite almost being cut from the album. Journey capitalized on their newfound massive success with advertising contracts and even video games.


Journey was one of the era’s most successful touring acts when 1983’s Frontiers came out. With top 40 songs like “Faithfully” and “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” it was another victory – despite intense ridicule over the bare-bones “Separate Ways” music video. The documentary “Frontiers and Beyond” captured the resulting tour, but was the last Journey offering for a while.

Raised on Radio

One-off group songs and solo work from Schon and Perry came between 1982-85. When Journey returned with 1986’s Raised on Radio, both Valory and Smith were gone, and studio musicians like future American Idol judge Randy Jackson stepped in.


With sales reaching two million and four successful singles, the band went back on the road. But, Perry cut the tour short due to his mother’s recent death. Journey’s future lay in the balance.

Other Projects

The frontman withdrew from the spotlight while other members pursued outside projects, the most notable of which was Schon and Cain’s supergroup Bad English. In 1988, Greatest Hits became Journey’s best-selling album and one of the most successful compilations ever.


After rare performances together, Journey reunited in 1995 to record Trial By Fire. Released the next year, it generated several hits and the Grammy-nominated ballad “When You Love a Woman.” But the reunion was short-lived: in 1997, Perry sustained a hip injury that prevented the band from touring. Schon and Cain decided to continue without him, and Smith also left the band.

Life After Steve Perry

Journey has since gone through a string of vocalists, including Steve Augeri and Filipino singer Arnel Pineda. They’ve continued touring and releasing albums every few years, with 2008’s Revelation reaching platinum status; however, many fans consider Perry’s time with Journey to be their golden era. The band’s timeless songs have also found new life in popular culture, being featured prominently in television shows like “The Sopranos” and “Glee.”


By perfecting arena rock and inventing the power ballad, Journey sold 80 million albums worldwide. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re emblematic of ‘80s rock, and while star members have gone their “Separate Ways,” they remain a staple of classic rock radio that will continue to play on. “Faithfully.”

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