Ah, the 1980's. The days of big hair, makeup on men, and a seismic split in rock music. Some -- like GnR and Mötley Crüe -- made their mark with a hard-hitting metal sound that lent perfectly to head banging and mosh pits. Others -- like Journey, Asia, The Police, and U2, opted for a more mellow sound. It's these tunes that we hum in our heads and play for our kids, hoping they too will learn to adore music with a follow-along melody and discernable lyrics.
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While Journey never shied away from a hard-driving bassline and serious guitar riffs, they showed us a softer side of rock and roll. Megahits like "Don't Stop Believing," "Faithfully," "Separate Ways," and "Open Arms" still dominate the airwaves, rejuvenating a generation of X-ers and inspiring the next generations. who could easily fall victims to today's music that features a single line of lyrics and a repetitive stanza that wouldn't even challenge the least-musically inclined among us.
Journey's music falls into the category of "arena rock," also called album-oriented rock, anthem rock, or stadium rock. It is a sub-genre of hard rock leaning towards pop that plays especially well in large stadiums and arenas. It's noted by heavy dependence on guitar and keyboard effects. Journey's brothers in arena rock include Queen, Foreigner, Styx, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and others.
Upon conception, Journey fell smartly into the category of instrumental progressive rock, moving gradually in subsequent albums toward that of hard-pop rock. At times, they sounded much like their parent band, Santana, at other times sounding more like actual hard rock and often sitting squarely into ballads or soft-rock/pop music. Whatever the sound, the fans adored and albums sold.
Journey was founded in 1973 in San Francisco, a hybrid of former members from Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch. The band has outlived numerous changes to the roster, and reached the height of its fame in the years spanning 1978 to 1987, achieving remarkable success in both the U.S. and the U.K. "Don't Stop Believin'" from the album Escape (1981) became the best-selling not-released-in-this-century song in the history of iTunes, a pinnacle it reached back in 2009.
Escape was also their most successful album (their 8th), reaching the #1 spot on the Billboard chart and birthing another of their phenomenal and long-living hits, "Open Arms." Their next megahit album came out in 1983. Frontiers quite nearly reached the same level of success, topping out at #2 on U.S. charts and #6 in the U.K.
Journey fell out of the spotlight for awhile, coming back together in the mid-90's, sans the popular lead singer, Steve Perry. Perry had a hiking accident in which he severely injured his hip. But he refused the surgery that would have put him back in stage-worthy condition, prompting the band to hire Perry doppelganger and almost spot-on voice double, Steve Augeri. After all, the show must go on.
To date, the mishmash of Journey members has managed to produce some 15 studio albums, 3 live albums, and numerous hit singles, scoring them a 2017 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (including Steve Perry on vocals, Neal Schon on guitar, Jonathan Cain and Gregg Rolie on keyboards, Ross Valory on bass, and Aynsley Dunbar and Steve Smith on percussion), some 48 million album sales in the U.S., and a #25 ranking among best-selling bands, as ranked by the Recording Industry Association of America. Globally, they have achieved nearly 90 million record sales, putting them high in the rankings among best-selling bands of all time.
Journey lays claim to 2 gold, 8 multi-platinum, and 2 diamond albums, 18 Top 40 singles, 6 of which went to Top 10, and 2 of which made it to the #1 spot. In the U.K., they scored 6 hit singles, with the highest ranking being "Don't Stop Believin'" which made it to #3. They also received a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.
Unlike many of their 80's band counterparts who've called it quits as age and life's hard knocks made rock and roll challenging to continue, Journey has continued to perform, though their various incarnations look a bit different than a few decades ago. Some Journey artists prefer to stick to studio work, and others tag along only on tours. Their most recent incarnation was in 2016, with the "San Francisco Fest 2016" tour, where they played along with the Doobie Brothers and Dave Mason. They also hooked up with Santana at the legendary Madison Square Gardens in NYC that year, as well as performances in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Santa Barbara, California.
So, what's next for the unofficial kings of 80's pop rock? It may not be so pretty. Following a riff over the band's role in politics and religion, rumors fly that the band may split up, for real and for good this time. Will the feud end the legend? Only time will tell. For now, tune to your favorite classic rock station and relive the glory days with some of Journey's amazingly great hits. There are plenty to choose from.