Born in Hanford, California, Stephen Ray Perry is best known as the lead vocalist of the band Journey from 1977–1987 and 1995–1998. Perry also had a successful solo career throughout the late eighties and early nineties. Perry was named the 76th greatest singer of all-time by Rolling Stone on its list of "The 100 Greatest Singers of All-Time. "
Journey is an American rock band formed in 1973 in San Francisco, California, by former members of Santana. The band has gone through several phases; its strongest commercial success was in the late 1970s until 1987 after Perry became a member.
During that period, they released a series of hit songs, mostly power ballads. Among these were 1981's "Don't Stop Believin'," the top-selling catalog track in iTunes history; and their highest-charting U.S. hit, "Open Arms."
-----Perry grew up interested in music, since his father, Ray Pereira - who changed his last name to Perry - was a singer. When Steve was ten years old, he heard Sam Cooke's song "Cupid" on his mother's car radio. This inspired Perry to become a singer. Sam Cooke - who Perry shares his birthday with - remained a major influence throughout Perry's career.
The family moved to Lemoore, California, during his teen years, and Steve played drums in this high school's marching band. He moved to Banta, California, outside of Tracy, California, where he fronted the band Alien Project in his mid-twenties. He nearly gave up music when the bassist of that band, Richard Michaels, was killed in a tragic 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.
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. Perry was brought on tour as roadie John Villanueva's Portuguese cousin. He slyly sang a song with Journey during a sound check in Long Beach while Fleischman was away from the stage and soon after replaced Fleischman.
Perry made his public debut on October 28, 1977 in San Francisco. He brought a completely new pop sound to the band's music, and was not immediately accepted by his bandmates and fans. As Journey began to garner radio airplay and media buzz over the album Infinity - his first with the band - Perry won over his critics.
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Besides Infinity, Steve rovided lead vocals on eight other Journey albums: Evolution, Departure, Dream, After Dream, Captured, Escape, 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 Sheena Easton, Clannad 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 future American Idol judge Randy Jackson, among others.
|Perry with Neal Schon|
Journey has scored two gold albums, eight multi-platinum albums, and one Diamond album (including seven consecutive multi-platinum albums between 1978 and 1987). They had 19 Top 40 singles, six of which reached the Top 10 of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Allmusic has described Journey as "one of America's most beloved (and sometimes hated) commercial rock/pop bands."