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 68)
Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1968–present
Member of
Formerly of
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] later dropping out to pursue his music career.[4]

A quick learner, he joined Santana at age 17, in 1971.[1][8][9] Schon has said he was asked by Eric Clapton to join Derek and the Dominos,[10] but that he joined Santana instead, performing on the albums Santana III and Caravanserai.[11] 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 [Neal 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.[12]

Schon also played in the band Azteca.[citation needed] In 1973, he, Gregg Rolie and manager Herbie Herbert co-founded the Golden Gate Rhythm Section, which had later been re-named to Journey after a suggestion by roadie John Villaneuva.[13][14]

Schon's guitar style is influenced by guitarists such as B.B. King, Albert King, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Jimmy Page and Jimmy Green.[10]

In addition to his nine solo albums and fourteen studio albums with Journey, Schon's work also includes: a pair of albums with keyboardist Jan Hammer,[15] short-term collaborations with Sammy Hagar (HSAS[16] and Planet Us)[17] 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)[18] 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.[19][20]

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.[21]

He played the Star Spangled Banner on electric guitar for the opening game of the 2022 NBA finals.[22]


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.[23][24] Schon has used Gibson guitars over the years, having also used Fender and Ovation guitars during Journey's Departure tour.[25] He 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).[23] 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.[26][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.[27]

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.[28]

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.[29][30]

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.[31]

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.[32] The marriage is Schon's fifth and Salahi's second.[33]

Schon has confirmed that he has tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears, common in musicians who have toured extensively.[34]


Solo albums[edit]

With Santana[edit]

With Azteca[edit]

  • Azteca (1972)
  • Pyramid of the Moon (1973)

With Journey[edit]

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 (1991)

With Abraxas Pool[edit]

With Soul SirkUS[edit]

  • World Play (2004)

Guest appearances[edit]

  • Betty Davis – Betty Davis (1973)
  • Robert Fleischman - Perfect Stranger (1979)
  • Sammy Hagar - Danger Zone (1980)
  • Tané Cain - Tané Cain (1983)
  • Silver Condor - Trouble at Home (1983)
  • Hear 'n Aid - Stars (1985)
  • Gregg Rolie - Gregg Rolie (1985)
  • Eric Martin - Eric Martin (1985; co-writer of "Just One Night")
  • Joe Cocker - Cocker (1986)
  • Gregg Rolie - Gringo (1987)
  • Michael Bolton - The Hunger (1987)
  • Jimmy Barnes - Freight Train Heart (1987)
  • Glen Burtnick (ex Styx) - Heroes and Zeroes (1987)
  • The Allman Brothers Band - Where It All Begins (1994; co-writer of "Temptation Is a Gun")
  • Frederiksen/Phillips - Frederiksen/Phillips (1995)
  • Fergie Frederiksen – Equilibrium (1999)
  • Carmine Appice - Guitar Zeus - Safe (1996)
  • Various artists - Merry Axemas, Vol. 2: More Guitars for Christmas (1998)
  • Trichromes - Trichromes (2002)
  • Jeff Scott Soto - Lost in the Translation (2004)
  • Mickey Thomas - Over the Edge (2004)
  • Beth Hart - "Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played" (2005)
  • Radioactive - Taken (2005)
  • Sammy Hagar - Cosmic Universal Fashion (2008)
  • Gary Schutt - Loss 4 Words (2008; guitar solo on "Road Trip")
  • Lee Ritenour - Lee Ritenour's 6 String Theory (2010)
  • Two Fires - Burning Bright (2011; co-writer of "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid")
  • Eric Martin - Mr. Rock Vocalist (2012)
  • Sammy Hagar - Sammy Hagar & Friends (2013)
  • Jimmy Barnes - 30:30 Hindsight (2014)
  • Revolution Saints - Revolution Saints (2015)
  • Jason Becker - Triumphant Hearts (2018)


  1. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Neal Schon: Artist Biography". AllMusic. 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 Daniels 2011, p. 4.
  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. ^ Daniels 2011, p. 6.
  10. ^ a b Daniels 2011, p. 5.
  11. ^ Daniels 2011, pp. 6–8.
  12. ^ Bobby Whitlock (November 27, 2020). Derek and The Dominos guitar players. YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  13. ^ "Rolie names his own tune". January 9, 2007.
  14. ^ Daniels 2011, p. 9–11.
  15. ^ Daniels 2011, p. 61.
  16. ^ Daniels 2011, p. 76.
  17. ^ Daniels 2011, pp. 133–134.
  18. ^ Daniels 2011, p. 92.
  19. ^ "Journey's Neal Schon On Reuniting With Gregg Rolie For "Neal Schon's Journey Through Time"". The Hype Magazine. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  20. ^ "Neal Schon Goes Deep Into His Past at Solo Benefit Show". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  21. ^ "Neal Schon's Journey Through Time Adds 2019 Dates". JamBase. February 4, 2019.
  22. ^ "ABC TV NBA Finals, Game 1". ABC TV. 6/2/2022. {{cite news}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)
  23. ^ a b Landers, Rick (March 29, 2005). "Neal Schon Interview". Archived from the original on August 23, 2006.
  24. ^ "Gibson News & Lifestyle Landing Page". Archived from the original on 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  25. ^ "The Carefully Plotted Route to Rock's Summit". Billboard. Vol. 92, no. 28. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. July 12, 1980. p. J-6. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  26. ^ "The Neal Schon Home Page -Gear : Schon". Archived from the original on 2009-01-11. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Carolyne Zinko: Wondrous wedding for Neal Schon, Michaele Holt Salahi, in: San Francisco Chronicle, December 16, 2013, last accessed on December 16, 2013.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ "Michaele Salahi, Neal Schon Headed To Tampa For Journey Gig". HuffPost. 2012-08-27. Retrieved 2022-01-04.
  31. ^ (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.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ The Reliable Source (2013-10-03). "Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon set a wedding date". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  34. ^ "Update: Neal Schon says he didn't bail on Silverdocs". The Washington Post. 2012-06-20.


  • Pete Prown; HP Newquist (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar. Hal Leonard. p. 1947. ISBN 9781476850931.
  • Daniels, Neil (2011). The Untold Story of Journey. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-84938-657-9.
  • Daniels, Neil (2014). Electric World: A Casual Guide to the Music of Journey's Neal Schon (Paperback ed.). ISBN 9781494710644.

External links[edit]