Steve Perry was born in Hanford, California in 1949 and started his career in music in 1970. He first achieved fame as a member of Journey, band he joined in 1977, four years after the band’s foundation and after they had already four albums released.
“Infinity”, the first album he did with the band, released in 1978 changed completely not only his life but also the future of the band. In following years they released some of their best-selling albums and became one of the biggest bands in the world. They stayed together until 1987 when the band entered a hiatus, returning in 1995. However, after three years Steve Perry decided to leave the band for good.
But why did the singer decide to leave the band and what he did in the meantime until he returned to music in 2018?
Why Steve Perry left Journey and what he has done since then
Usually when a musician leaves a band, the most frequent reasons are fights, money or to pursue a solo career. But Steve Perry simply decided to leave Journey because he felt like he had lost his passion for music and singing. The musician felt like nothing in his professional career made sense anymore. He was still dealing with the loss of his mother and felt like he needed to reconnect again with who he was.
He recalled that in an interview with AXS TV in 2020 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). “Well, it was a combination. The passion for music had left me, I could not find the honest passion for singing and because of that I was stepping into some, dare I say ‘party behaviors’ to argument my frustrations. Then I think my voice was also suffering. Everything started to suffer for me and it did not help restore my passion for music.”
“So eventually the feeling just got very clear to me that I needed to just stop. I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t know what I was going to do or where I was going to go. All I knew was that I couldn’t keep doing what I’m doing. I need to just stop, because this is not going anywhere good. Certainly drugs and drinking were part of it, of course. I mean, that came with the times.”
“It’s a funny thing about success, when you do get a chance to finally live that dream that you wanted when you were 8, 9, 12 years-old. I’m not complaining, I’m just telling you my heart. When you finally get that and you’re loving it, it’s kind of at some point a little bit of a luster and starts to wear off over and over again. You keep touring and keep turning the same wheel over and over again. I think it leaves room for the opportunity of other enhancements, dare I say, to replace some of the lack of luster that it once had. (So) I walked away,” Steve Perry said.
What Steve Perry did after he quit Journey?
He became a recluse person, living in his hometown. He first bought a motorcycle and decided that it was going to be his new passion. “(After that) I bought a Harley-Davidson in Visalia, California, because my hometown was Hanford, California, about 18 miles away. I would drive that Harley in the summertime. (I haven’t been into motorcycles before), I decided that was going to be my new passion. So I bought this Harley and there was no helmet law back then and my long hair would be flying 20 feet in back of me, you know (laughs).”
“I rediscovered parts of my life that I completely forgot about. So I was reconnecting with my childhood and actually reconnecting with the loss of my mother, that I lost, she died before. I went out to visit other departed relatives pretty regularly. Just to try to reconnect with my life where it is right at that time. Because when you re-enter the earth’s atmosphere of your life after a ride like that you gotta do something. You got to ground yourself somehow. So I did a lot of that,” Steve Perry told AXS TV.
A promise made to his late girlfriend made him return to music
He didn’t sing, recorded or wrote any music for years. It was only after meeting Kellie Nash, a psychologist who would become his girlfriend that he decided he would go back again to music. They met in 2011 and quickly fell in love. He first saw her on TV, in a show one of his friends worked on. One day when they were hanging out he asked who was the woman who had appeared on the show that day and asked for her e-mail. After that they went out to dinner and had a deep connection. As he told Good Morning America in 2018 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), “It was more than love, it was inseparable. I never experienced the word connection before honestly. It was beautiful.”
In an interview with 106.7 in 2018 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), he talked about the promise Kellie asked him to make. She didn’t want him to be isolated again if something happened to her. “This is a deep thing, honestly. Kellie and I had conversations that were the types that I never had in my life. When we got together she already had been fighting breast cancer for three years but you would never know. She looked amazing, ‘stunning’ is the word. So I just had a connection with her that I never had before in my life. So there were conversations that were pretty intense, like one night she said: ‘Honey, I need to ask you something. I need you to make me a promise.”
Steve Perry continued:
“If something ever happens to me, make me a promise that you won’t go back into isolation. Because when I met her I was pretty isolated though (I was) riding my motorcycle, going to movies and the fair comes to town every summer. I was living life but wasn’t talking to people like yourselves, recording, singing, wasn’t writing music. I didn’t miss it (those things) because I wasn’t doing it,” Steve Perry said.
She sadly passed away, a victim of cancer, one year later in 2012. In 2017
Journey reunion and Perry’s return to music
Journey briefly reunited on stage when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Steve Perry was present at the ceremony with the band but he did not perform with them. However, one year later, in 2018 he released “Traces”, his first solo album in 24 years.
Many songs were inspired by the loss of Kellie and since then he released two more albums. One is an alternative version of “Traces” (2020) and in 2021 “The Season”, a Christmas album was released. He had already released a Christmas EP called “Silver Bells” in 2019.