Journey’s Long, Winding Trip
Back in the good ol’ days, Journey was it. They taught everyone in the seventies to never stop believin’ and, if for no other reason, that makes them a-okay in my book. But in reality, the San Francisco-born band was one of the most popular and influential bands of the 70s and 80s, with a loyal and widespread following that persists to this day. Originally called the Golden Gate Rhythm Section, Journey was formed in 1973 from members of other pillar rock band, Santana, at the hand of former Santana manager Herbie Herbert. His goal was to create a backup band to perform with other area groups, but everyone quickly realized that such a high level of…how to put this?...pure rock could not and should not be contained to the back of the stage. The original lineup included Santana alumni Neal Schon on guitar, Gregg Rolie on keyboards and lead vocals, with bassist Ross Valory, rhythm guitarist George Tickner (both hailing from Frumious Bandersnatch) and The Tubes’ drummer Prairie Prince rounded out the group. Together, the band kicked the whole “backup band” idea in favor of their own particular brand of jazz fusion. I know what you’re thinking: that doesn’t sound too much like the Journey we all know and love today. 1977 proved to be the year everything changed. Sales on the group’s first two albums were a bit slumpy and Columbia Records (and the band) felt a change on the air. That change came in the form of new lead singer Steve Perry, who joined the band that year amid a number of lineup changes. After that, things shifted into hyper-drive for the band; their new pop sound was compared to bands like Boston and Foreigner and the fans ate it up. By the release of 1981’s Escape (the group’s 8th studio album), Journey was on top of the pop music world, with a string of top charting hits including "Who's Cryin' Now", "Don't Stop Believin'", and "Open Arms." Despite successful sales, the band’s height of success was met with less than open arms by critics; Rolling Stone writer Dave Marsh cited the band as “was a dead end for San Francisco area rock." Regardless, the band went on to have a string of successful albums throughout the rest of the 1970s and 1980s. As a touring band, Journey spent the 1990s enjoying continued warm welcomes and enthusiasm from fans, despite numerous breakups and shakeups within the band’s lineup. In 1998, Steve Perry left the band and has been subsequently replaced several times with other singers. While many claim that Perry was the thing that kick-jumped Journey’s career and things are not nearly the same without him, the rest of the band is proving that, like the wheel in the sky, they’ll keep on turnin’.