Who is Journey?
Journey is an American rock band formed in 1973 in San Francisco. The band has, surprisingly, employed a total of sixteen members. The original group, however, was only four, though they were joined by a fifth member near the end of the year. The first members of Journey were the lead guitarist Neal Schon, bassist Ross Valory, rhythm guitarist George Tickner, and drummer Prairie Prince, with the latecomer Gregg Rolie, a keyboardist and vocalist.
Originally, the group was known as a progressive rock band, but they’ve since branched out into many other subgenres of rock, and became well known for a few hit songs. Their most famous hit is “Don’t Stop Believin’”, released in 1981, but they were also quite popular for the song “Open Arms”, which came out just a year later. The band was most active from 1977 to 1987, when Steve Perry took over as the lead vocalist, but the group is still active today, despite Neal Schon being the only active original member.
What is the Origin of Journey?
In 1973, the founding members of Journey came together to form a band originally called the Golden Gate Rhythm Section, which intended to serve as a backup group for artists performing in the Bay Area. The band included former Santana members Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie in addition to former Frumious Bandersnatch members Ross Valory and George Tickner. Prairie Prince of The Tubes played drums for the band.
Within their first year, the band abandoned the backup band concept, and roadie John Villanueva suggested the name “Journey” after an unsuccessful radio content to name the group. On New Year’s Eve in 1973, the group made their first public appearance at the Winterland Ballroom, and on the following day, performed at the Diamond Head Crater in Hawaii. Prairie Prince then rejoined The Tubes and was replaced by Aynesley Dunbar, who had worked with Frank Zappa. On February 5, 1974 the new line-up debuted at the Great American Music Hall where a contract was secured with Columbia Records.
Band Members of Journey
- Guitar, vocals (1973-present)
- Age: 67
- Net worth: $40 million
- Keyboards, guitar, vocals (1980-present)
- Age: 71
- Net worth: $30 million
- Bass, backing vocals (1985-1987; 2020-present)
- Age: 65
- Net worth: $60 million
- Vocals (2007-present)
- Age: 53
- Net worth: $20 million
Narada Michael Walden
- Drums (2020-present)
- Age: 69
- Net worth: $8 million
- Keyboards, harmonica, backing vocals (1973-1980)
- Age: 74
- Net worth: $5 million
- Guitar, backing vocals (1973-1975)
- Age: 74
- Net worth: $1 million
Charles “Prairie” Prince
- Drums (1973-1974)
- Age: 71
- Net worth: $1.3 million
- Bass, keyboards, backing vocals (1973-1985; 1995-2020)
- Age: 72
- Net worth: $20 million
- Drums (1974-1978)
- Age: 75
- Net worth: $5 million
- Lead vocals (1977), occasional songwriting collaborator
- Age: 68
- Net worth: $5 million
- Lead vocals (1977-1987; 1995-1998)
- Age: 72
- Net worth: $60 million
- Drums (1978-1985; 1995-1998; 2015-2020)
- Age: 66
- Net worth: $22 million
- Drums, vocals (1998-2015)
- Age: 56
- Net worth: $10 million
- Vocals, guitar (1998-2006)
- Age: 62
- Net worth: $6 million
Jeff Scott Soto
- Vocals (2006-2007)
- Age: 55
- Net worth: $1.6 million
Styles and Themes in the Music of Journey
Over their expansive discography, Journey has encompassed several sub-genres of rock including progressive rock early on and later arena rock, hard rock, soft rock, and some jazz-rock. Though they’ve branched out into various areas over the years, such as pop, they’ve kept to their roots as a rock group, even with an ever-changing line-up of performers.
The lyrics of Journey’s music encompass themes of youthful romance, rebelliousness, and growing up. They are perhaps most famous for their heartfelt ballads and inspirational anthems and often sing about the challenges of touring and overcoming life’s difficulties in general.
Journey (April 1, 1975)
This self-titled album was released in 1975 by Columbia Records. The jazzy progessive rock album that is Journey is one of only a few albums to include the rhythm guitarist George Tickner. Unlike their other albums, this one is focused mainly on the group’s instrumental ability rather than other aspects of their music.
Some of the songs present appeared in an earlier recorded demo album created before the release of Journey. Prairie Prince took over as the drummer for the demo album, and there were a few additional tracks on it that never made it to the final product, Journey. The original working title for this demo album was “Charge of the Light Brigade.”
Look Into the Future (January 1, 1976)
In their second album, Look Into the Future, Journey strayed away from the experimental nature of their self-titled album. While they did still incorporate some features present in their earlier works, Journey had a more focused approach to this album. Like in Journey, the album had George Tickner on rhythm guitar, but he left the band after having co-written two songs for the album.
With his absence, the group was left with four members for the rest of the album. In addition to their most popular single on the track, “I’m Gonna Leave You”, the album featured covers of The Beatles’ “It’s All Too Much” and “Yellow Submarine”.
Next (February 1977)
Journey’s third album, Next, continued to use the same formula that their previous album did, but it also took some inspiration from the first of the group’s works, Journey. Next features a fair amount of jazzy progressive rock, and is the last of Journey’s albums to feature Gregg Rolie as the lead singer.
Next was the first of Journey’s albums to do well on the BIllboard 200 Album charts, reaching as high as number 85 on the charts. “Spaceman” and “NIckel and DIme” were two of the well known singles to be released in this album.
Infinity (January 20, 1978)
Infinity, Journey’s fourth album, was the first to feature Steve Perry on vocals, and the last to feature Aynsley Dunbar on the drums. Three singles stood out among the rest in this album – “Patiently”, “Lights”, and “Wheel in the Sky”.
“Patiently” being such a big hit was a bit of a surprise, as it was the first song Steve Perry and Neal Schon wrote together. Perry wrote the lyrics for the song, expressing sadness at being on the road and far away from home, as well as endearing himself to the fans. Meanwhile, Schon wrote the music to match Perry’s words, using a new layered sound approach, along with stacked harmonies.
Evolution (March 23, 1979)
Evolution, the group’s fifth album, was the first to feature their new drummer Steve Smith. It was the band’s most successful album to date, charting number 20 on the Billboard 200 Album charts. In addition, the group’s first top 20 hit was on the album – “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”, which reached number 16 in the United States.
“Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” was inspired by another top 20 hit, the classic Sam Cooke single “Nothin’ Can Change This Love”. Journey’s song “Just The Same Way” was another single of note on the album, and it featured the original lead vocalist Gregg Rolie, singing with Steve Perry.
Departure (February 29, 1980)
Journey’s highest-charting album at that point in time, Departure, gave the band its first top ten album on the Billboard 200 chart. It includes the Top 25 single “Anyway You Want It”, the lead track for the album. Music from the album was more edgy, created by “live in studio” recording sound.
Departure marks the last full-time studio involvement from Gregg Rolie, who would soon stop recording with the band due to wanting to leave life on the road.
Escape (July 17, 1981
Journey’s next album topped the American Billboard 200 chart and features four Billboard Hot 100 singles with “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “Who’s Crying Now”, and “Still They Ride”, and “Open Arms”.
Multiple critics consider the songs from this album to be timeless, and it has been featured on various “greatest albums” lists. Escape has been certified diamond by the RIAA, making it the band’s most successful studio album. There is even an Atari 2600 video game that was based on the album.
Frontiers (February 22, 1983)
Reaching number 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, Frontiers kept up some momentum from the previous successful release. This album garnered Journey four top 40 singles: “After the Fall”, “Send Her My Love”, “Faithfully”, and “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”.
Frontiers would later achieve the RIAA certification of six times platinum, and it was their highest charting album in the UK.
Raised on Radio (April 21, 1986)
At this point in their career, both lead guitarist Neal Schon and lead singer Steve Perry had released their own solo albums. Perry considered leaving Journey to pursue a solo career but was convinced by Jonahton Cain to return. Perry began to take more control over the direction of the band at this point, firing bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith, although they would both return in 1995. Perry also produced the album.
Raised on Radio produced 3 top 20 singles in the US, “Girl Can’t Help It”, “I’ll Be Alright Without You”, “Suzanne”. The album reached number 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and certified double platinum in the USA.
Trial by Fire (October 22, 1996)
The classic 1980s lineup reunited for Journey’s tenth studio album, Trial by Fire. Loosely termed a concept album with lyrically spiritual content, the title track was taken from Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
This album featured a Top 20 hit and Grammy nominated single “When You Love a Woman”, which reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Radio singles “Message of Love”, “Can’t Tame the Lion”, and “If He Should Break Your Heart” were also songs of note.
At this point, Steve Perry left the band feeling he was being forced out due to internal disputes over his hip injury and touring at the time. Steve Smith left along with Perry.
Arrival (December 1, 2000)
Full of hard rock and rock ballads, Arrival was the first full-length album with Steve Augeri as lead vocalist and Deen Castronovo on drums.
The song “All the Way” reached number 22 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Charts, and the album peaked at number 56 on the Billboard’s album chart. This is Journey’s last studio album under Columbia Records, the band’s label since their debut album in 1975.
Generations (August 29, 2005)
For the first time, all band members shared in the vocal duties for the album Generations. It is the second and last album to feature Augeri due to a throat infection.
Interestingly, Journey initially gave the album away for free during concerts on tour, and later released it with Sanctuary Records, the only album with this label. This album peaked at number 170 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart.
Revelation (June 3, 2008)
Released with Nomata LLC (Schon’s personal label) exclusively through Wal-Mart and with Frontiers Records in Europe, Revelation features 11 new songs and 11 re-recorded greatest hits. It is the first Journey album with Fillipino singer Arnel Pineda.
“Never Walk Away”, “Where Did I Lose Your Love”, and “After All These Years” were the three singles from the album. Revelation reached number 5 on the Billboard 200 chart and was a huge success around the world.
Eclipse (May 24, 2011)
A departure from the pop hits and ballads from before, Eclipse focused more on harder rock and was more guitar-oriented instrumentally. The album reached number 13 on the US Billboard 200 chart and received mixed reviews from critics.
Legacy and Influence of Journey
One of the most successful bands of the 1980s, Journey opened the doors to pop-influenced rock with their infectious melodies and Top 40 moments. Their anthems are still a regular part of sports games and campaigns, and their songs have become arena rock staples.
Lead vocalist on nine of Journey’s albums, Steve Perry’s voice has garnered acclaim from prominent musicians and publications. Jon Bon Jovi gave Perry the moniker, “The Voice”, and he is considered to be among the best vocalists of all time. With a career of over four decades, numerous Journey songs have been heard in films, video games, television, and even on Broadway. In fact, Journey was brought back into the consciousness of the mainstream in 2007 when the final episode The Sopranos featured the song “Don’t Stop Believin’”, which reignited their comeback.
Journey was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 with inductees Aynsley Dunbar, Gregg Rolie, Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon, Ross Valory, Steve Perry, and Steve Smith.
Awards and Notable Nominations
- 1987 – Bammie Award for Best Group
- 1996 – Grammy Nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal – “When You Love a Woman”
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