Steve Perry (musician): Wikis


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Steve Perry

Steve Perry, 1981
Background information
Birth name Stephen Ray Perry
Born January 22, 1949 (1949-01-22) (age 61)
Origin Hanford, California
Genres Rock
Occupations Singer, songwriter, producer
Instruments Vocals, drums, guitar, mandolin
Years active 1977–present
Labels Sony
Next Plateau Entertainment (distribution only)
Associated acts Journey, Alien Project, USA for Africa, The Sullies

Steve Perry (born Stephen Ray Perry)[1] January 22, 1949) is an American singer and songwriter best known as the lead vocalist of the rock band Journey from 1978–1987 and 1995–1998. Perry had a successful solo career (currently on hold) throughout the late eighties and early nineties. He released Street Talk in 1984 which went to #12 on the charts and went 2x Platinum. Then in 1994, he released For the Love of Strange Medicine, which went to #15 on the charts and went Gold. Perry was named the 76th greatest singer of all-time by Rolling Stone on its list of "The 100 Greatest Singers of All-Time," citing his pure vocal tone, technical skill, wide vocal range and emotive delivery.[2]

Steve Perry is eligible for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, both as a solo artist (since 2009) and as a member of Journey (since 2000). Perry presently lives in Del Mar, California.


Vocal classification

Perry's vocal classification is Tenore contraltino, a term used to describe a man who sings in the highest possible male register (above tenor and including what would, if sung by a woman, be called alto or mezzo), using a natural or "full" voice and employing falsetto only in his extreme upper register. Depending on whether the definition being used includes chest voice or is limited to falsetto only, this is also a form of countertenor. Perry is known for his extensive vocal range (high tenor-low bass). He is also famous for his ability to change quickly from a low to high note, which can be heard on the Journey song "Homemade Love" on the album Departure, which it appears at the end.

Early years

Born in Hanford, California, Perry is of Portuguese heritage. Perry grew up interested in music, as his father, Ray, was a vocalist. He also counts Sam Cooke and Al Jolson among his early inspirations. The Perry family was close-knit until Ray left the family when Steve was seven. His mother Mary (nee Quaresma) later re-married, and Steve remained extremely close to her. On his twelfth birthday (January 22, 1961) Mary presented her son with a gold eighth note necklace, which he still wears for good luck. When Steve was ten years old, he heard Sam Cooke's song "Cupid" on his mother's car radio. This inspired Perry to become a singer.[2]

The family moved to Lemoore, California during teen years. While in Lemoore, the young, long-haired singer continued to pursue his interest in music. He attended high school there, drumming in the marching band as well as in extracurricular bands. He attended College of the Sequoias, in Visalia, California for a short time after graduation, where he took first tenor in the choir there. Perry's mother encouraged his musical growth during this time.

Perry moved to Banta, California, a small farming town outside of Tracy, California, where he fronted the band Alien Project in his mid-twenties. He nearly gave up music when the bassist of that band, Richard Michaels, was killed in a tragic automobile accident.[3] Filled with grief, Perry returned to Lemoore and decided not to continue his singing career, instead following in his stepfather's trade of construction, once working on a turkey farm. But at the urging of his mother, Perry answered a call from Walter "Herbie" Herbert, manager of the struggling San Francisco-based band, Journey.

Journey years

Herbert had been given a demo of an Alien Project song, "If You Need Me, Call Me," and was told that the young singer would be a great replacement for current frontman, Robert Fleischman. Fleischman had never moved under Herbert's management, preferring to maintain his previous manager and had never in fact integrated well with the band's then progressive rock style. Perry was brought on tour and to avoid alarming Fleischman was introduced clandestinely as roadie John Villanueva's Portuguese cousin and surreptitiously performed a song with Journey during a sound check in Long Beach while Fleischman was away from the stage and Herbert informed the band of the line-up change.

Perry brought a completely new pop sound to the band's music, despite grumblings from his new bandmates and fans of Journey's former progressive rock sound. He made his public debut on October 28, 1977 in San Francisco, and received a mixed reception. Perry determinedly proved the critics wrong, and won over new audiences on his first album with the group, Infinity, which included a song of his own composition called "Lights." The band's style had changed dramatically, but as Journey began to garner radio airplay and media buzz over Infinity, Perry's arrival was accepted.

He provided lead vocals on nine of Journey's albums: Infinity (1978), Evolution (1979), Departure (1980), Dream, After Dream (1980, a Japanese movie soundtrack), Captured (1980, a live album), Escape (1981, which went to #1 on the Billboard charts), Frontiers (1983), Raised on Radio (1986), and Trial By Fire (1996). The single "Open Arms," from Escape, was their biggest hit single, residing for six weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Perry had become the unmistakable voice of Journey throughout his time with the band.

During his tenure with Journey, Perry sang backing vocals on several Sammy Hagar songs, including the 1980 track "Run For Your Life," and duetting with Kenny Loggins on the 1982 #17 hit single "Don't Fight It." Perry also worked with other musicians such as Sheena Easton, Clannad and Jon Bon Jovi during the height of his career.

In 1984, following the release of Frontiers and the tour supporting this effort, Perry released his first solo album, entitled Street Talk, named after the original name of Perry's earlier band Alien Project. The record was a multiplatinum success selling over 2 million copies and scoring the hit singles #3 "Oh Sherrie," written for his then-girlfriend Sherrie Swafford, and #18 "Foolish Heart." The music video for "Oh Sherrie" saw heavy rotation on MTV. "She's Mine" and "Strung Out" were also released as singles from this project, which featured former Alien Project drummer Craig Krampf on a few tracks, guitarist Michael Landau, and future American Idol judge Randy Jackson, among others.

In 1985, Perry had a featured vocal in the famed USA for Africa all-star benefit song "We Are the World," lending his high tenor to the lines "Oh, there's a choice we're making / We're saving our own lives". He also recorded a song, "If Only For the Moment, Girl" for the We Are the World album. This song was added to the reissue of his album Street Talk. It was during this period also that Perry worked with the Irish folk-rock group Clannad, on their 1987 album Sirius.

Perry debated continuing a solo career or returning to Journey after the success of Street Talk. He left his second solo album Against the Wall unfinished and instead sang on Journey's Raised on Radio album. Perry would revisit his solo project after the Raised On Radio tour but it never saw completion. Several of the songs that were recorded for Against the Wall, however, did appear much later on Perry's 1998 solo compilation, Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased.

While Steve was re-uniting with Journey, his mother became ill. The recording of Raised on Radio, which Perry was producing, was stop-and-go as he frequently returned to the San Joaquin valley to visit his family. It took a major toll on Journey to have intermittent recording sessions and a vocalist who was not with the band much of the time. Eventually, as Steve later said, he was "toasted." Journey disbanded in 1987 after the Raised on Radio tour. Perry disappeared from public view for years afterward, taking a break from the music industry.

Leaving Journey

In 1994, Perry released For the Love of Strange Medicine, his second solo effort. The album enjoyed some success, (going gold) partly due to the Strange Medicine world tour (supported for a short time by Sass Jordan), before being cut short. Lincoln Brewster, a Neal Schon-like guitarist and now a successful Christian musician, was featured on the album and during the tour.

Journey's classic 1981–85 lineup reunited in 1996 to record Trial by Fire. The album was a huge success, entering the Billboard charts at #3 and going Platinum before year's end, but its triumph was short-lived. Before the Trial By Fire tour could begin, Perry suffered a hip injury while hiking in Hawaii and was unable to perform. Perry was diagnosed with a degenerative bone condition and a hip replacement would be required. Reluctant to rush into surgery, Perry wished to postpone the tour. Due to the long wait between the album's release and the tour's postponed kick-off date, as well as the absence of Journey's iconic frontman, Journey fans were losing hope for the band's future.

Meanwhile, long-time Journey drummer Steve Smith resigned, reportedly because Journey without Steve Perry didn't interest him. (Smith had rejoined, along with original Journey member Ross Valory, to complete what Perry has referred to as the band's quintessential line-up.)[4]

The remaining members of Journey waited until 1998, nearly 17 months after Perry's injury, before making a decision on its future. Growing impatient and realizing the window of opportunity was closing to follow up the success of the Platinum-selling Trial By Fire LP with a world tour, Journey members Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon met with Perry and presented an ultimatum that he either undergo hip replacement surgery so the tour could proceed upon his recovery or a replacement singer would be hired[4]. Perry, still hesitant to undergo surgery and now apparently upset at his bandmates' intractability and their meddling in personal health decisions, decided to part ways with Journey. Without a lineup for any Trial by Fire tour, the band knew they had to replace Perry with a dynamic high tenor which they tried to do when they found their new vocalist, Steve Augeri of Tall Stories, and nearly two years after the album's initial release, Journey began its long-postponed tour.

While being interviewed during Journey's Revelation tour of 2008, Schon and Cain praised Perry's mighty presence in Journey, adding that Perry had "raised the bar" for Journey. Bassist Valory suggested Journey lead singers who sound like him do so in honor of Perry's legacy with Journey.


Perry underwent successful hip replacement surgery in 1998[4] to correct the problem he had been diagnosed with two years earlier. He released the Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased compilation album later in 1998; the unreleased tracks included an original Alien Project demo as well as selections from the abandoned Against the Wall CD. Also in 1998, Perry recorded two songs for the Warner Bros. film, Quest for Camelot, which can be found on the motion picture's soundtrack.

Journey was the subject of an episode of VH1's Behind the Music in 2001, where Perry made the controversial statement that he "never really felt like he was part of the band."

Singing voice

He ranked number 76 in Rolling Stone Magazine's "100 Greatest Singers of all Time." Queen guitarist Brian May said in a 2007 interview "Perry is a truly luminous singer, in my opinion — a voice in a million".[5]

Personal Life

Perry is not currently involved in any romantic relationship as of right now. He has said numerous times that he "is looking for a normal person to be in a relationship with." He hasn't been in any publicized relationship since the 1986 breakup with Sherrie Swafford.[citation needed]




Year Album US RIAA
1984 Street Talk 12 2× Platinum
1994 For the Love of Strange Medicine 15 Gold


Year Title Peak chart position Album
1982 "Don't Fight It"
(with Kenny Loggins)
17 4 High Adventure
(Kenny Loggins)
1984 "Oh Sherrie" 3 1 33 Street Talk
"I Believe" 43
"She's Mine" 21 15
"Strung Out" 40 17
"Foolish Heart" 18 2
1994 "You Better Wait" 29 6 17 For the Love of Strange Medicine
"Missing You" 74 24
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

In the news

Steve Perry appeared at Journey's star ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 21, 2005, after previously stating it was unlikely that he would ever stand with the band again. Perry said on his website that it was a good experience, and that tensions between him and the other band members were reduced, but that his rejoining Journey is not likely.

In contrast to this statement, Perry has also stated "Never say never, unless you mean never, never the less" when the issue of returning to Journey has been brought up, possibly speculating a return to his former band.[6][7]

Despite his acrimonious break with Journey, Perry was credited as producer on the 2003 Greatest Hits DVD 1978–1997 as well as the 2005 package Journey Live in Houston 1981: Escape Tour, which included both a DVD video of the performance and a music-only CD of the same show. Perry has described the emotional experience of reliving the Escape tour and the entire band's history while editing the film as "a heartache"[4].

In 2005, Perry produced a track on a solo album for former Ambrosia lead vocalist David Pack, titled The Secret of Moving On. Perry also provides background vocals for "A Brand New Start," among the many songs he and Pack co-wrote shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The album, released in September, 2005, includes covers of two of Pack's biggest hits with Ambrosia, "Biggest Part of Me" and "You're the Only Woman." [3]

During the 2005 baseball season, the resurgent Chicago White Sox adopted Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" as their unofficial team anthem. As a result, Perry (an avid San Francisco Giants fan, although he has been seen at Los Angeles Dodgers games recently) was asked to attend the World Series and even traveled with the team to Houston where they swept the Astros in four consecutive games. Perry joined the players on the field and in the locker room as they celebrated their championship[4].

In late 2006, Perry's two solo projects, Street Talk and For the Love of Strange Medicine, (both featuring previously unreleased material) plus his Greatest Hits CD were remastered and re-released. In a Q&A posted in December 2006, Perry indicated that Sony has approached him about releasing a collection of his music videos on DVD, and that while he enjoys producing other artists, he currently has no solid plans to record a new album.[8] In early 2007, guitarist Nuno Bettencourt stated that he is writing songs with Steve Perry.

After The Sopranos finale, which used "Don't Stop Believin'" to close out, Perry argued that he deserved to find out how the show ended in order to know if his song had been used properly. Perry confirmed this on a phone interview with popular Irish DJ Ray Foley, in which he said he didn't wish the song to play over a slaughter of one or several of the main characters. The shows producers initially would not tell Perry the ending, but relented when it became clear to them that he would not give his approval without first seeing how the song was to be used.

In August 2007, Go Kart records released GuFF's album Symphony of Voices, which featured "I Can See It in Your Eyes," a song from the Japan release of Trial By Fire. Perry sang background vocals on the track.

Sony Legacy released Playlist: The Very Best of Steve Perry on January 13, 2009, a compilation of some of his best songs.[9]

In a recent interview with former bassist, Sony record executive and American Idol judge Randy Jackson opined that "Other than Robert Plant, there's no singer in rock that even came close to Steve Perry". Jackson goes on to say "The power, the range, the tone — he created his own style. He mixed a little Motown, a little Everly Brothers, a little Zeppelin." Jackson also puts the rumors to rest about Perry's voice saying "I just saw him not long ago, and he still has the golden voice."[10]

The 'Sessions' section in Mix Magazine's January 2009 issue quotes session musician Russ Miller as stating "Right now I'm working on Steve Perry's album."[11]

In an interview the CBC Radio program Q (Canada), it is stated that Steve Perry is currently working on a solo album in Los Angeles.[12]

On October 14, 2009, The Fruit Salad Show resumed their popular "Finding...." segment after successfully locating and interviewing 80's pop star Martika by announcing that Steve would be their new conquest. The duo states that it isn't necessarily for an interview, but to show appreciation.[13] On November 18, 2009 the popular blog unveiled the second part of the search for Steve Perry saying they have so far been unsuccessful but are getting closer and are still very hopeful. In a recent fan q and a on Twitter, host Pauly said he received "at least two hundred emails" regarding the segment. The segment was updated on January 14, 2010

On an interview with UK's "Planet Rock" radio station on February 3rd 2010, Steve stated that although he is not currently recording in a studio, he has been writing new material for his own personal use, and that he misses the thrill of performing live.[14] Steve also stated in a recent interview with "West Sound" that he would soon be recording some new materials. [15]

Steve Perry and Past & Present members of Journey have been courted by Disney and the producers of Tron Legacy to contribute an original Theme Song for the film. Journey wrote the original song "Only Solutions" for the first Tron movie, although that song ended up in the ending credits.


External links

Preceded by
Robert Fleischman
Journey lead vocalist
Succeeded by
Steve Augeri


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