Steve Perry was at his peak in the 1980s. Having taken over the mic just a few years prior, Perry watched as Journey’s album Escape became a monster hit machine, spawning classics like “Open Arms,” “Stone in Love,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” as well as the song featured today, which reached #4 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Mainstream Rock Tracks charts.
Journey has been a band of roster changes — no member has remained for the life of the band. For the most part, it has been led by guitarist Neal Schon. A child of a big band musician, arranger, and composer (father) and a big band singer (mother), Schon was a teen guitar prodigy, joining Santana at the age of 17, after being first asked by Eric Clapton to join Derek and the Dominoes. At the age of 19, he, Greg Rolie, and manager Herbie Herbert formed a band which would soon morph into Journey.
Rolie is worth noting as a two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee for Santana and Journey, two bands he helped found. He served as lead singer and keys player in each for years. He’s an oft-forgotten hero of Bay Area and classic rock.
Perry joined the band in an odd way. From June-October 1977, Robert Fleischman was the band’s lead singer, but Herbert has other ideas after hearing Perry, who he then brought on tour. To avoid alarming Fleischman, Perry was referred to as a roadie’s Portuguese cousin. Then, during a sound check in Long Beach, Perry surreptitiously performed a song with Journey while Fleischman was away from the stage. Afterwards, Herbert informed the band members that Perry was the new lead singer.
Perry brought a more significant pop influence to the band, along with the keyboardist who succeeded Rolie, Jonathan Cain, formerly of the Babys. The two wrote this song.
The live version featured today captures the band in their prime. Perry’s vocals are deceptively amazing — ask any singing coach, professional singer, or amateur singer with a lick of sense, and they will bow down to his range, tone, and vocal gymnastics, which all flow effortlessly from him. Many if not most female singers can’t match his range, facility, and power.
The guitar solo at the end was initially much more complex, but Perry and Cain convinced Schon to go for something simpler. It dazzles throughout.