Steve Perry reunited with Journey for the first time in 20-plus years as part of the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday night. The reclusive frontman appeared onstage with his former bandmates as they each gave acceptance speeches.
When it came time for him to speak, Perry began by recounting his first encounter with Journey. “I would always go to see Journey perform, I watched with amazement, their musicianship was par to none. There was one instrument that flew above, that was the magic guitar of Neal Schon.” He continued by praising each of his other former bandmates as well as the band’s current singer, Arnel Pineda. “I must give a shout out to a man who sings his heart out every night, Arnel Pineda.
Perry concluded his comments by thanking Journey’s fans. “You’re the ones who put us here,” he said. “You’re the rock and roll hall of fame! From my heart, I must tell you, I’ve been gone a long time, you’ve never not been in my heart. Thank you so very much.”
Despite rumors to the contrary, however, Perry did not take part in the band’s subsequent performance. Instead, Pineda fronted the band as they performed “Lights”, “Separate Ways”, and “Don’t Stop Believin’”.
Perry led Journey from 1977 to 1987, an era which proved to be the band’s most commercially successful stretch. However, amidst production of Journey’s 1986 album Raised on Radio , Perry’s mother became ill. Recording sessions were frequently put on hold so that Perry could visit his ailing mother, who would eventually die during the LP’s production. His infrequent presence made keeping the band together untenable and by 1987, they had disbanded.
Perry’s last live performance with Journey came in November 1991 at a tribute concert for promoter Bill Graham held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The classic Journey lineup would again reunite for the 1996 platinum-selling album Trial by Fire. However, before the band could embark on a tour behind the effort, Perry suffered a hip injury while hiking in Hawaii. Reluctant to get the necessary hip replacement surgery, Perry forced the band to postpone their world tour. Almost 17 months after the injury, Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain presented the singer with an ultimatum: Either get the hip replacement surgery so they could plan their tour, or a replacement singer would be found. The demand angered Perry, who saw it as an attempt to interfere with a personal health decision, and so he chose to leave the band permanently.
In the years since then, Perry has made a point to stay away from the spotlight. In 2014, he made a rare live appearance at an Eels concert, singing Journey songs “Open Arms”, “Lovin’, Touchin’, “Squeezin’”, and “Lights”. That same year, he sang along to “Don’t Stop Believin'” during a San Francisco Giants baseball game.
In a change from previous years, only specific members of bands were eligible for induction into the Rock Hall in 2017. Of the five singers Journey has had over the years, only Perry was inducted along with the Schon, Cain, drummer Steve Smith, and bassist Ross Valory, alongside founding keyboardist Gregg Rolie and second drummer Aynsley Dunbar, all of whom performed behind Perry at one point or another.
Though he was always meant to be there when Train singer Pat Monohan inducted Journey into the Hall, it wasn’t a guarantee that Perry would be performing with the band. Earlier in the day, TMZ reported that Perry was set to sing onstage, but unfortunately that report proved inaccurate.
HBO will air a pre-recorded telecast of tonight’s ceremonies on April 29th. In the meantime, check out a few fan-shot clips and photos below.