Neal Schon

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Neal Schon
Schon performing in 2008
Schon performing in 2008
Background information
Birth nameNeal Joseph Schon
Born (1954-02-27) February 27, 1954 (age 69)
Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, U.S.
Years active1968–present
Member of
Formerly of

Neal Joseph Schon (born February 27, 1954)[1] is an American musician and songwriter, best known as the co-founder and lead guitarist for the rock band Journey. He is the last original member to remain throughout the group's history. He was a member of the rock band Santana before forming Journey, was a member for the group Bad English during Journey's hiatus from 1987 to 1995, and was also an original member of Hardline.

Schon was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2013,[2] and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Journey in 2017.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Neal 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] Schon also played in the band Azteca.

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.[12][13]

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]

Schon in 2013

In addition to several solo albums and his work with Journey, Schon's work also includes: a pair of albums with keyboardist Jan Hammer,[14] short-term collaborations with Sammy Hagar (HSAS[15] and Planet Us)[16] 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)[17] and Hardline (which also featured 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); "Black Soup Cracker", a funk outfit that features former Prince associates Rosie Gaines and Michael Bland; and 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".

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.[18][19] The concert was released as a live album and DVD on May 19, 2023.[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]

Schon 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]

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]

In December 2013, Schon married Michaele Salahi at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. A white tent (photo) had been erected in the rotunda for the occasion.[28]

Schon's first marriage was to Tena Austin in 1976. After divorcing Austin in 1986, Schon married Beth Buckley a year later. They were together for approximately five years and had two children together. In 1993 he married Dina Gioeli, divorcing in 1999. In 2001, he married Amber Kozan, with whom he had two more children. They divorced in 2008.[29] 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.[30][31] 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.[32] 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.[28][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]

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)
  • Steve Augeri - Seven Ways 'til Sunday (2022; co-writer of "Desert Moon")


  1. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Neal Schon: Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
  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 November 26, 2013.
  3. ^ "Inductees: Journey". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Daniels 2011, p. 4.
  5. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Journey's Neal Schon On His New Album, 'So U'". Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  6. ^ Schwartz, Missy (June 13, 2007). "Sopranos Journey Ends With Journey". Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  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. ^ "Rolie names his own tune". January 9, 2007.
  13. ^ Daniels 2011, p. 9–11.
  14. ^ Daniels 2011, p. 61.
  15. ^ Daniels 2011, p. 76.
  16. ^ Daniels 2011, pp. 133–134.
  17. ^ Daniels 2011, p. 92.
  18. ^ "Journey's Neal Schon On Reuniting With Gregg Rolie For "Neal Schon's Journey Through Time"". The Hype Magazine. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  19. ^ "Neal Schon Goes Deep Into His Past at Solo Benefit Show". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  20. ^ "Neal Schon Announces 'Journey Through Time' Live Album and DVD". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved June 2, 2023.
  21. ^ "Neal Schon's Journey Through Time Adds 2019 Dates". JamBase. February 4, 2019.
  22. ^ "ABC TV NBA Finals, Game 1". ABC TV. June 2, 2022.
  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 May 14, 2008. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  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 January 11, 2009. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  27. ^ Bowcott, Nick (June 9, 2009). "The Setlist: Neal Schon of Journey". Guitar World. Archived from the original on June 12, 2009. Retrieved June 12, 2009.
  28. ^ a b Zinko, Carolyne (December 16, 2013). "Wondrous wedding for Neal Schon, Michaele Holt Salahi". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 10, 2023.
  29. ^ Bashian, Lori A. (April 22, 2023). "Journey celebrates 50th anniversary: Rock band members then and now". Fox News. Retrieved June 9, 2023.
  30. ^ "What a Journey! Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon walk red carpet at Silverdocs, bail out early". The Washington Post (The Reliable Source blog). June 19, 2012. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  31. ^ "Michaele Salahi, Neal Schon Headed To Tampa For Journey Gig". HuffPost. August 27, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  32. ^ (1) Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (October 15, 2012). "Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon get engaged — onstage, of course". The Washington Post (The Reliable Source blog). Retrieved November 5, 2014.
    (2) Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (October 15, 2012). "More on Neal Schon's engagement to Michaele Salahi: On-stage proposal and 11 carat diamond". The Washington Post (The Reliable Source blog). Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  33. ^ Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (December 16, 2013). "Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon tie the knot — in a pay-per-view wedding". The Washington Post (The Reliable Source blog). Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  34. ^ "Update: Neal Schon says he didn't bail on Silverdocs". The Washington Post (The Reliable Source blog). June 20, 2012.


  • 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]