Neal Schon

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Neal Schon
Neal Schon in July 2013.jpg
Schon in Las Vegas, December 2012
Background information
Birth name Neal Joseph Schon
Born (1954-02-27) February 27, 1954 (age 62)
Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, United States
Genres Hard rock, instrumental rock, progressive rock, jazz fusion, smooth jazz, glam metal
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1968–present
Labels Frontiers Records, Columbia, Higher Octave
Associated acts Santana, Betty Davis, Azteca, Journey, Schon & Hammer, HSAS, Hear 'n Aid, Michael Bolton, Jimmy Barnes, Bad English, Hardline, Paul Rodgers, Just If I, Abraxas Pool, Planet Us, Soul SirkUS
Website Official website
Notable instruments
Neal Schon Signature Les Paul
Neal Schon PRS Archtop Trem Guitar
Fender Stratocaster

Neal Joseph Schon (born February 27, 1954)[1] is an American rock guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist best known for his work with the bands Journey and Bad English. He is Journey's last original constant member, having participated in every album and tour to date. He was a member of the rock band Santana before forming Journey, and was also an original member of Hardline.

Schon was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame on August 23, 2013.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Neal Joseph Schon was born at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, the son of Barbara and Matthew Schon.[3] He is of German ancestry.[4][5] Schon first picked up the guitar at "around the age of five."[3] A quick learner, he joined Santana as a teenager at 15.[3] Schon has said he was asked by Eric Clapton to join Derek and the Dominos,[3] but that he joined Santana instead, performing on the albums Santana III and Caravanserai. Schon also played in Azteca before moving on in 1973 to form Journey, a group he has continued to lead to the present day.

Schon's guitar style has been described[by whom?] as soulful, taking inspiration from 1960s-era soul singers such as Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, and blending it with blues runs similar to B. B. King. He was influenced by guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Wes Montgomery.

In addition to his five solo albums and 14 studio albums with Journey, his work also includes: a pair of albums with keyboardist Jan Hammer, short-term collaborations with Sammy Hagar (HSAS and Planet Us) and Paul Rodgers, stints with Bad English (a supergroup that featured Journey’s Jonathan Cain and Deen Castronovo and Jonathan Cain's former Babys bandmates John Waite and Ricky Phillips) and Hardline (which also featured Deen Castronovo). Even as Journey’s latest lineup plays to a still-faithful body of fans, Schon has immersed himself in side projects such as Piranha Blues (1999) and "Black Soup Cracker" a funk outfit that features former Prince associates Rosie Gaines and Michael Bland, and more recently Soul SirkUS with Jeff Scott Soto.

Schon can be heard on other albums including three tracks on Michael Bolton's The Hunger, with the Schon sound most recognizable on "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay". He also joined Larry Graham to play in an all-star band for cult funk artist and ex-wife of Miles Davis, Betty Davis. In addition, Schon (along with then Journey manager Herbie Herbert) also contributed to Lenny White's 1977 album Big City, specifically the instrumental jam "And We Meet Again".


Schon's first guitar was an acoustic Stella, followed two years later by a Gibson ES-335. When the 335 was stolen, he replaced it with a '56 Les Paul Goldtop reissue that he used for many years.[6][7] Schon has used Gibson guitars over the years, and had a limited edition signature Les Paul model called the Neal Schon Signature Model Custom Les Paul, of which Gibson made only 35, according to the Gibson Custom website (80 according to Neal Schon's website).[6] He has previously employed Godin guitars on his 1995 solo album Beyond the Thunder, and more recently uses Paul Reed Smith guitars. In the late 1980s, Schon manufactured (through Jackson Guitars and later Larrivee) and played his own line of guitars. Simply named Schon, about 200 of the Jackson-produced models were made.[8] A white Schon guitar can be clearly seen in the music video for the Journey song "Girl Can't Help It", as well as a gold version in the Journey videos for "I'll Be Alright Without You" and "Be Good to Yourself". A Gibson Les Paul Super Custom can be seen in the video for the Journey song "Anyway You Want It." Recently he has been seen using a Seven String Ibanez Universe, which was a gift from Steve Vai as documented in the liner notes of the Hardline - Double Eclipse album.[9] On the song "Lights", he uses a Fender Stratocaster later equipped with a Floyd Rose tremolo.

As of 2008, Schon currently prefers guitar pedals from Xotic, a Vox Satriani model and occasionally uses a Buddy Guy wah pedal.[10]

In a 2007 interview, Neal confirmed that he has had tinnitus for years stemming from excessive loud playing.[11] Schon's father, Matthew Schon, was a jazz musician and composer who provided the arrangements on the Journey song "Mother, Father."

Currently, Neal uses Paul Reed Smith guitars, and has two signature models with the "NS" prefix. The NS-14 and NS-15.

Personal life[edit]

On December 15, 2013, Neal Schon married Michaele Salahi at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. For this occasion, a white tent (photo) had been erected in the rotunda of the Palace.[12]

In September 2011, Schon publicly confirmed he was in a relationship with Michaele Salahi, who had previously crashed a White House state dinner, starred in Bravo’s “Real Housewives” and abruptly left husband Tareq Salahi to take up with Schon. The two said they had also dated years previously in the 1990s and were very happy together.[13][14]

On October 14, 2012, Schon proposed to Michaele onstage during a charity concert at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Maryland, offering her an oval 11.42 carat diamond engagement ring.[15] The marriage would be Schon's fifth and Michaele's second.[16]

The couple married on December 15, 2013, in a pay-per-view ($14.95 for three hours) wedding that was broadcast live from the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California.[17] On December 1, 2015, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors agreed to a settlement that would pay Neal and Michaele $290,000 in response to a lawsuit that had accused the city-county government of improperly permitting the wedding's organizers to increase their fees after learning of the pay-per-view arrangements.[18]

Four of Schon's five marriages have ended in divorce. He had two children by his second wife (Beth Buckley), one by his third (Dina Gioeli) and two by his fourth (Amber Kozan). He had no children with his first wife (Tena Austin). His children's names are Miles, Lizzy, Sarah, Aja and Sophie.[19]



with Santana[edit]

with Journey[edit]

Main article: Journey discography
Studio albums

with Jan Hammer[edit]

with HSAS[edit]

with Bad English[edit]

with Hardline[edit]

  • Hot Cherie EP (1992)
  • Double Eclipse (1992)
  • Can't Find My Way EP (1992)
  • II (2002)

with Paul Rodgers[edit]

with Just If I[edit]

  • All One People (1995)

with Abraxas Pool[edit]

with Soul SirkUS[edit]

  • World Play (2005)

Guest appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Neal Schon: Artist Biography". Retrieved 2013-11-26. 
  2. ^ Wofford, Jerry (October 16, 2013). "Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame inducts 7 artists". Tulsa World. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-26. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Neal Schon Biography". (Neal Schon official site). Archived from the original on February 13, 2012. Neal Joseph Schon was born on February 27, 1954 at Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His parents, Barb and Matthew Schon, were both musicians. ... When he was still very young, his family moved to San Francisco, where Neal has lived for most of his life.  Note: (see above) gives birthplace as San Mateo, California.
  4. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Journey's Neal Schon On His New Album, 'So U'". Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  5. ^ Schwartz, Missy (2007-06-13). "''Sopranos'' Journey Ends With Journey". Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  6. ^ a b Landers, Rick (March 29, 2005). "Neal Schon Interview". Archived from the original on January 6, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Gibson News & Lifestyle Landing Page". Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  8. ^ "The Neal Schon Home Page -Gear : Schon". Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  9. ^ [1] Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  10. ^ Bowcott, Nick (2009-06-09). "The Setlist: Neal Schon of Journey". Guitar World. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  11. ^ [2] Archived March 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  12. ^ Carolyne Zinko: Wondrous wedding for Neal Schon, Michaele Holt Salahi, in: San Francisco Chronicle, December 16, 2013, last accessed on December 16, 2013.
  13. ^ The Reliable Source (2012-06-19). "What a Journey! Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon walk red carpet at Silverdocs, bail out early". Style. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  14. ^ "Michaele Salahi, Neal Schon Headed To Tampa For Journey Gig". 2012-08-27. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  15. ^ (1) Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (2012-10-15). "Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon get engaged — onstage, of course". The Reliable Source. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-05. 
    (2) Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (2012-10-15). "More on Neal Schon's engagement to Michaele Salahi: On-stage proposal and 11 carat diamond". The Reliable Source. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-05. 
  16. ^ The Reliable Source (2013-10-03). "Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon set a wedding date". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-13. 
  17. ^ Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (2013-12-16). "Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon tie the knot — in a pay-per-view wedding". The Reliable Source. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-05. 
  18. ^ (1) "Case 3:15-cv-00581-LB, United States District Court for the Northern District of California: Neal Schon, Micheale Schon, and N&M Productions, Inc., Plaintiffs, vs. City and County of San Francisco, Philip Ginsburg in his individual and official capacity, Dana Ketcham in her individual capacity, and Diane Rea in her individual capacity, Defendants" (PDF). San Francisco Examiner. 2015-02-06. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-12-13. Retrieved 2015-12-13. 
    (2) Sabatini, Joshua (2015-11-10). "'City by the Bay' to settle Journey's Neal Schon lawsuit for $290K". San Francisco Examiner. Archived from the original on 2015-12-13. Retrieved 2015-12-13. 
    (3) "San Francisco approves $290,000 payout for Journey wedding". AP News. Associated Press. 2015-12-01. Archived from the original on 2015-12-13. Retrieved 2015-12-13. 
  19. ^ Gary, L. "Neal Schon Biography". IMDb. Archived from the original on 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2015-12-13. 

External links[edit]