Although he's gone out of his way to say that Steve Perry is not rejoining Journey, Neal Schon clearly still has a soft spot for the band's former frontman and songwriter. In the recent months, both Schon and Perry have seemed to be teetering on some type of re-connection, but there's been nothing more than public hints -- and then denials. Perry left Journey in 1998 rather than be forced into hip-surgery so that the band could tour behind their hit reunion album Trial By Fire. He's currently prepping his first solo album in 20 years.
Neal Schon spoke about Perry to Classic Rock magazine and explained, "I never kicked him out of the band. He chose not to perform. He didn’t want to sing with us. He didn’t want to do a record. He didn’t want to do anything. That was pretty much where he was at. And he wanted us to sit still and not do anything too. But we all wrote the music together, and I think we’re all entitled to play it if we wish."
Although Journey's key '80s lineup is now fractured, with only Schon, Jonathan Cain, and Ross Valory touring with the band, Schon has great memories of his days working with Perry: "Steve and I had some really amazing times together. He was a very funny guy, and he liked to party with the best of us. In the beginning, when we wrote 'Lights' and 'Patiently,' the first two songs we wrote together, we realized immediately that we had chemistry. And the guy was really funny to be around, so we hung out all the time. We were very tight and close for years and years."
Nearly 15 years since splitting with Perry, Schon says that there truly are no hard feelings: "Things happen along the way -- women come and go. And things sometimes go sideways, which it did, and I was sorry to see that happen, but it did. It wasn’t really a fault of anyone’s. We all had a lot of different things to deal with: you’re growing up, you’re in a big band, and you’re making lots of money. You’re doing whatever you’re doing and it’s not helping the situation. It’s hard to keep it all together. But things happen for a reason."
Steve Perry told us that upon first hearing Neal Schon play, he recognized not only a kindred spirit -- but the missing link to his creative fulfillment: "I just simply said, 'If I was ever, in my life gonna be successful as a singer; I gotta get a guitar player that plays like this, ‘cause this guy’s gonna kick my ass to sing better than I probably ever could without him' -- and that’s exactly what happened."
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