Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lineup History: Journey

One of the world's top groups didn't start out with bold ambitions, but rather they formed to serve as a backing band in the San Francisco Bay Area of the United States.

When they inauspiciously began as the Golden Gate Rhythm Section in 1973, they included two members of Santana:  Neal Schon on lead guitar and Gregg Rolie on keyboards and lead vocals.  Ross Valory played bass while George Tickner was on rhythm guitars and Prairie Prince, formerly with the Tubes, was the drummer.

The group quickly expanded its original goals to include a recording career and settled on the name Journey.  Their debut performance was on New Year's Eve at the Winterland Ballroom.

Prince soon rejoined the Tubes, replaced by Aynsley Dunbar, and the new lineup debuted at the Great American Music Hall.  By this time, the group expanded its goals to include a recording career, and they signed with Columbia Records.

Tickner left before the group recorded its second album, but neither of the first two releases sold well.  Columbia was beginning to get impatient with the group, feeling that they needed a more accomplished lead singer.  Journey hired Robert Fleischman, who toured with the group in 1977.  But that didn't work out either, and the group searched again.

This time, they hit paydirt.  In late 1977, Journey hired Steve Perry as lead singer, and that move proved to be the missing piece of the puzzle.  Beginning with the album Infinity, Journey began to take flight, selling over 45 million albums from 1978-1998 in the United States alone.

Dunbar was fired in late 1978, replaced by Steve Smith, who trained at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.  Rolie left after the live album Captured in 1980, but before he did, Gregg recommended Jonathan Cain of the Babys as his replacement.

Cain immediately made significant contributions with his outstanding keyboard work (on "Don't Stop Believin'") and songwriting ("Faithfully").  With Cain on board, Journey became a supergroup, and arguably the world's most talented band.

Prior to recording the 1986 album Raised on Radio, however, Smith and Vallory were fired for musical and professional differences.  Studio musicians Randy Jackson (later a judge on American Idol) and Larrie Londin filled in on the album and Baird replaced London on the subsequent tour.

From 1987-1995, the group went on hiatus, with Cain and Schon forming the group Bad English and Schon starting the group Hardline.

In 1995, the Journey lineup of Cain, Perry, Schon, Smith and Vallory recorded the album Trial by Fire.

Perry injured his hip in Hawai'i and problems stemming from that injury led the group to look for another lead singer.  Initially, beginning in 1998, Steve Augeri filled the role, with the group also replacing Smith with Deen Castronova, drummer with Cain and Schon in Bad English.

But Augeri had problems with his voice, and Jeff Scott Soto briefly replaced him.  In 2007, Journey hired Arnel Pineda, who has been the group's lead singer ever since.

In 2015, Castronovo was indicted for assault while the band was on tour.  Omar Hakim filled in for the remainder of the live dates and in the fall, Smith once again returned.  The lineup of Schon, Vallory, Smith, Cain and Pineda continues to perform.

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