Stephen Ray "Steve" Perry is the former lead vocalist of Journey from 1977–1987 and 1995–1998. Perry also had a fairly successful solo career.
Perry was born in Hanford, California and is of Portuguese descent. Perry grew up interested in music, as his father, Ray Pereira (who later changed his last name to Perry), was a vocalist. On his twelfth birthday (January 22, 1961), 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 and 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 greatly encouraged his musical growth during this time.
Perry moved to Banta, California where he fronted the band Alien Project in his mid-twenties. He nearly gave up music when the band's bassist, 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.
Time With JourneyEdit
Herbert had been given a demo of an Alien Project song, "If You Need Me, Call Me," and was told 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 many songs featuring his songwriting. The band's style had changed dramatically, but as Journey began to garner airplay and media buzz over Infinity, Perry's arrival was accepted.
He provided lead vocals on nine of Journey's albums: Infinity, Evolution DepartureDream After Dream, Captured, Escape, which went to #1 on the Billboard Charts, Frontiers", Raised on Radio, and Trial by Fire. The single "Open Arms," from Escape, was their biggest hit single, residing for six weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
During his tenure with Journey, Perry sang backing vocals on several Sammy Hagar songs, including the 1980 track "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 Shenna Easton and Jon Bon Jovi during the height of his career.
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 judge Randy Jackson on bass, amongst others.
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 a release. 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 re-uniting 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 "toasted". 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.