Neal Schon

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Neal Schon
Schon in Las Vegas, July 2013
Schon in Las Vegas, July 2013
Background information
Birth nameNeal George Joseph Schon
Born (1954-02-27) February 27, 1954 (age 67)
Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1968–present
Associated acts
WebsiteOfficial website

Neal George 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 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] and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Journey on April 7, 2017.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Neal George Joseph Schon was born at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, the son of Matthew and Barbara Schon.[4] He is of German and Italian ancestry.[5][6] His father was a big band musician, arranger, and composer, and played and taught all reed instruments with emphasis on jazz tenor saxophone; his mother was a big band singer.[7] Schon started playing guitar at age 10.[8] He attended Aragon High School in San Mateo, California.[8]

A quick learner, he joined Santana at age 17, in 1971.[1][8] Schon has said he was asked by Eric Clapton to join Derek and the Dominos,[4][better source needed] but that he joined Santana instead, performing on the albums Santana III and Caravanserai.[citation needed] According to Bobby Whitlock,

he's a great guitar player. When he was a kid, his daddy brought him to one of our shows … when Derek and the Dominoes were doing our American tour. And [his dad] tried his best to talk Eric into letting him play in our band. He didn’t have a lot to say but he sat in with us. And it was just … it didn’t fit. He was real talented, young guitar player, early teens. His career happened anyway ... without us but we didn’t need a teenager in the band. I was only a few years out of being a teenager myself so I knew what to expect. And his playing was entirely wrong for us. If Neal Schon was anywhere, he was backstage and I saw him. We always kept tight, Eric didn’t have a dressing room, it wasn’t like that, we carried our own suitcases, and they only brought two guitars. If Eric broke a string he changed his own strings on stage. We didn’t know who [Neil Schon] was, he showed up with his daddy. And twice. Like I said, he had a great career anyway, when you’re talented like that it’s going to happen. The bands he got with, they needed that kind of playing ... He did alright without us. He didn't need us and we didn't need him. He was just one of the many people who wanted to play with us.[9]

Schon also played in the band Azteca.[citation needed] In 1973, he and Gregg Rolie co-founded Journey.[10]

Schon's guitar style has been described 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.[citation needed]

In addition to his nine solo albums and 14 studio albums with Journey, Schon's 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 Cain's former Babys bandmates John Waite and Ricky Phillips) and Hardline (which also featured Castronovo).[citation needed] 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); "Black Soup Cracker", a funk outfit that features former Prince associates Rosie Gaines and Michael Bland; and Soul SirkUS with Jeff Scott Soto.[citation needed]

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".[citation needed] He also joined Larry Graham to play in an all-star band for cult funk artist and ex-wife of Miles Davis, Betty Davis.[citation needed] 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".[citation needed]

On February 9, 2018, Schon played a charity show at San Francisco's The Independent, benefiting North Bay Fire Relief. The group recruited featured former Journey drummer Deen Castronovo (who also sang some of the vocals), former Journey keyboardist Gregg Rolie and bassist Marco Mendoza of The Dead Daisies.[11][12]

In 2019, Schon announced a tour to be called Neal Schon's Journey Through Time. The tour was slated to feature Castronovo, Rolie and Mendoza.[13]


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.[14][15] 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).[14] 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.[16][better source needed]

As of 2008, Schon currently prefers guitar pedals from Xotic, a Vox Satriani model and occasionally uses a Buddy Guy wah pedal.[17]

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.[18]

In September 2011, Schon publicly confirmed he was in a relationship with Michaele Salahi. The two said they had dated years previously in the 1990s and were very happy together.[19][20]

On October 14, 2012, Schon proposed to Salahi onstage during a charity concert at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Maryland, offering her an oval 11.42 carat diamond engagement ring.[21]

The couple married on December 15, 2013 in a live broadcast wedding that was held in the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California.[22] The marriage is Schon's fifth and Salahi's second.[23]

Schon has confirmed that he has tinnitus which causes constant ringing in the ears, common in musicians who have toured extensively.[24]



  1. ^ a b 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 27, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  3. ^ "Inductees: Journey". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  4. ^ a b "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.
  5. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Journey's Neal Schon On His New Album, 'So U'". Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  6. ^ Schwartz, Missy (2007-06-13). "Sopranos Journey Ends With Journey". Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  7. ^ "Neal Schon Interview". Guitar Interactive Magazine.
  8. ^ a b c Zompolis, Gregory N. (2004). Images of America, San Mateo. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 0738529567.
  9. ^ Bobby Whitlock (November 27, 2020). Derek and The Dominos guitar players. YouTube. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  10. ^ "Rolie names his own tune". January 9, 2007.
  11. ^ "Journey's Neal Schon On Reuniting With Gregg Rolie For "Neal Schon's Journey Through Time"". The Hype Magazine. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  12. ^ "Neal Schon Goes Deep Into His Past at Solo Benefit Show". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  13. ^ "Neal Schon's Journey Through Time Adds 2019 Dates". JamBase. February 4, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Landers, Rick (March 29, 2005). "Neal Schon Interview". Archived from the original on August 23, 2006.
  15. ^ "Gibson News & Lifestyle Landing Page". Archived from the original on 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  16. ^ "The Neal Schon Home Page -Gear : Schon". Archived from the original on 2009-01-11. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  17. ^ Bowcott, Nick (2009-06-09). "The Setlist: Neal Schon of Journey". Guitar World. Archived from the original on 2009-06-12. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
  18. ^ Carolyne Zinko: Wondrous wedding for Neal Schon, Michaele Holt Salahi, in: San Francisco Chronicle, December 16, 2013, last accessed on December 16, 2013.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ "Michaele Salahi, Neal Schon Headed To Tampa For Journey Gig". 2012-08-27. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  21. ^ (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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ The Reliable Source (2013-10-03). "Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon set a wedding date". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  24. ^ "Update: Neal Schon says he didn't bail on Silverdocs". The Washington Post. 2012-06-20.


  • Daniels, Neil (2011). The Untold Story of Journey. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-84938-657-9.
  • Pete Prown; HP Newquist (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar. Hal Leonard. p. 1947. ISBN 9781476850931.

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