Steve Perry (musician)
Perry in 1986
|Birth name||Stephen Ray Perry|
January 22, 1949 |
Hanford, California, US
|Genres||Hard rock, pop rock, pop|
|Instruments||Vocals, bass guitar, keyboards, drums|
|Years active||1961–1998 (hiatus)|
Next Plateau Entertainment
|Associated acts||Journey, Ice (with Scott Mathews), Alien Project, USA for Africa, The Sullies|
Stephen Ray "Steve" Perry (born January 22, 1949) is an American singer and songwriter best known as the lead vocalist of the rock band Journey during their most commercially successful periods from 1977–1987 and 1995–1998. Perry had a successful solo career between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s.
Perry's singing has garnered acclaim from prominent musical peers and publications; he has been described as "The Voice", a moniker originally coined by friend and former chart peer Jon Bon Jovi. He resides in Del Mar, California.
Early years 
Born in Hanford, California, Perry is of Portuguese descent. Perry grew up interested in music, as his father, Ray Perry, was a vocalist and owner of radio station KNGS. On his twelfth birthday (January 22, 1961), his mother, Mary, presented her son with a gold eighth note necklace, which he still wears for good luck. When Perry was twelve years old, he heard Sam Cooke's song "Cupid" on his mother's car radio. This inspired Perry to become a singer.
The family moved to Lemoore, California during Perry's teen years. 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.
In his early twenties, Perry moved to Sacramento to start a band with a 16-year-old future multi-platinum music producer, Scott Mathews, who co-wrote, played drums, guitar and sang. That band, Ice, wrote strong original material and were poised to 'make it' as they recorded during the day at the Record Plant studios in Los Angeles in 1972 while Stevie Wonder recorded his classic Talking Book LP by night. Upon returning to Sacramento, Ice melted as the band had no management, Mathews was stuck in high school and the recordings went virtually unheard. Perry ended up in Banta, California 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 an automobile accident. Perry returned to Lemoore and decided not to continue his singing career, 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 
||This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. (November 2009)|
Herbert had been given a demo of an Alien Project song, "If You Need Me, Call Me," and was told by Scott Mathews 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 tracks "The Iceman" (a nickname Hagar had for Scott Mathews) and "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. A 1983 Gallup poll of people between the ages of 13-25 voted Journey their favorite rock band.
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 sold more than 2 million units, 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 on bass, amongst others.
In 1985, Perry was one of 21 singers in the USA for Africa all-star benefit song "We Are the World." 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 Perry was reuniting 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 mother, who died during the production of Raised on Radio. 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 Perry later said, he was "toast." Journey disbanded in 1987 after the Raised on Radio tour. Perry then disappeared from the public eye for seven years, 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, partly due to the Strange Medicine world 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 saying "Journey without Steve Perry was like Jack without his box." (Smith had rejoined, along with original Journey member Ross Valory).
The remaining members waited until 1998, nearly 17 months after Perry's injury, before making a decision on Journey's 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. Perry, still hesitant to undergo surgery and now apparently upset at his bandmates' intractability and their perceived meddling in personal health decisions, decided to leave Journey. Perry's vocal duties were later taken over by 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 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 statement that he "never really felt like he was part of the band", to which former manager Herbie Herbert reacted saying "that's like the Pope saying he never really felt Catholic."
Perry appeared with other Journey members at a 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. He indicated that, though it was a good experience, his rejoining Journey is not likely. However, he has also stated "[n]ever say never, unless you mean never, never the less" when the issue of returning to Journey has been mentioned.
In 2005, Perry produced "The Secret of Moving On", a track on a solo album for former Ambrosia lead vocalist David Pack. Perry also provided 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."
During the 2005 baseball season, the 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) was asked to attend the World Series and even traveled with the White Sox to Houston where Perry joined the players on the field and in the locker room as they celebrated their championship.
In late 2006, Perry's two solo projects, Street Talk and For the Love of Strange Medicine (both featuring previously unreleased material), and his Greatest Hits CD were remastered and re-released. Sony Legacy released Playlist: The Very Best of Steve Perry on January 13, 2009, a compilation of some of his best songs.
An avid fan of the San Francisco Giants, Perry was spotlighted during their 2010 World Championship run. He was spotted in game 5 of the NLCS leading the crowd in a singalong of Don't Stop Believin'. In the eighth inning of the second game of the 2010 World Series in San Francisco, fans at AT&T Park began singing along to the song "Lights" by Journey. Perry, was shown on the scoreboard singing, jumping and pumping up the crowd. The Giants went on to win 9–0 over the Texas Rangers.
During the 2012 Giants versus Tigers World Series in San Francisco at AT&T park, Perry was shown on the scoreboard singing along to "Lights" once again.
In an interview with Classic Rock Presents AOR, released in December 2010, it was revealed that Perry has written over 50 songs and is contemplating his first solo project since 1994. "A little over a year and a half ago, I felt I could maybe come back to it, I have been writing. I have about 50 songs in a little over a year. I never thought I would do it again, but I decided to open up that room and see what I could find. It's been interesting. Some of it sounds familiar, some of it sounds contemporary, some of it you can't put a label on—and I've never been big on labels anyway." Perry is reluctant however to put a timescale on his return. "I'll be honest, I don't really know how to do that, but I can definitely smell a solo project on the horizon. I will be recording some music."
Singing voice 
Perry's singing has garnered acclaim from prominent musical peers and publications. Queen guitarist Brian May said, "Perry is a truly luminous singer, in my opinion—a voice in a million." Sony record executive, American Idol judge and musician Randy Jackson described Perry's as "the golden voice," and opined that, "Other than Robert Plant, there's no singer in rock that even came close to Steve Perry." "The power, the range, the tone—he created his own style. He mixed a little Motown, a little Everly Brothers, a little Zeppelin." He has been described as "The Voice," a moniker originally coined by friend and former chart peer Jon Bon Jovi.
Greg Prato of AllMusic wrote, "If only one singer could be selected as the most identifiable with '80s arena rock, it would have to be Journey's Steve Perry." Colleague John Franck praised Perry's as a "soaring, whale of a voice." He was voted among the ten greatest rock singers of all time in a 2009 Classic Rock reader poll. Rolling Stone ranked Perry #76 in "The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time," reflecting the magazine's editorial opinion. They lauded his "technical skills," as well as his "pure tone and passionate sincerity."
|1984||Street Talk||12||59||2× Platinum|
|1994||For the Love of Strange Medicine||15||64||Gold|
|1995||Perry's Coming [Japan-only release]||—||—|
|1998||Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased||—||—|
|2009||Playlist: The Very Best of Steve Perry||—||—|
|2010||Oh Sherrie: The Best of Steve Perry||—||—|
|Year||Title||Peak chart position||Album|
|1982||"Don't Fight It"
(with Kenny Loggins)
|1984||"Oh Sherrie"||3||1||33||89||Street Talk|
|1994||"You Better Wait"||29||6||17||—||For the Love of Strange Medicine|
|"Young Hearts Forever"||—||—||—||—|
|1998||"I Stand Alone"||—||—||—||—||Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased|
|"When You're In Love (For The First Time)"||—||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
- Steve Perry Biography at Yahoo! Music
- See Singing voice.
- Radio interview, KNBR, 8 October 2010.
- Greatest Singers of All Time, Rolling Stone
- "Steve Perry Answers Your Questions", Teen Talk magazine, May 1985.
- MelodicRock.com Interviews: Steve Perry. 2005
- Carty, Matt. Castles Burning: The Herbie Herbert Interview, 2001.
- Steve Perry's Biography
- Wise, Mike (17 Augusts 2003). "Perry says "Never say never," 8/13/03". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-21.
- Steve Perry Movement message boards/forum
- Roth, Kaj (December 7, 2008). "Steve Perry - New Best Of Album Out On Jan. 13". Melodic.net.
- "Hometown Boy 'Journeys' Back to the Farm".[dead link]
- "Upfront: Commence to Commemoratin'!".
- "Death by Power Ballad: Steve Perry, 'Running Alone'".
- Zaleski, Annie (2010-10-28). "Steve Perry Surfaces - Singing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" at a Baseball Game! - St. Louis - Music - RFTmusic". Blogs.riverfronttimes.com. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
- "Steve Perry at Giants Game", StevePerryOnline.net
- "I've Got 50 New Songs!". StevePerryOnline.net.
- Sachs, Tony (July 9, 2008). "Steve Perry, Sam Cooke, Arnel Pineda, and My Journey To Obsession". Huffington Post.
- Queen Guitarist Weighs In On Journey Singer Changes, RoadrunnerRecords.com
- Espinoza, Russ. "Journey's Steve Perry gives a pep talk". The Austin Chronicle. September 19, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
- "Journey Finds New Singer the Old-Fashioned Way: On the Internet". Rolling Stone. December 5, 2007. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
- Bon Jovi; Perry, Steve. "Bring It On Home to Me". Shoreline Amphitheatre. April 30, 1989.
- Steve Perry. AllMusic. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
- Journey: Infinity. AllMusic. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- "50 Greatest Singers in Rock". #9. Classic Rock. May 2009.
- "Oh Sherrie (The Best Of Steve Perry) - Steve Perry". AllMusic. 2010-10-25. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
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