Tag Archives: Steve Perry

Journey’s Neal Schon – Still Going Strong

By Andrew Catania

“The American rock band, Journey, can be deemed as just one among his many claims to fame; Neal Schon has a lot more to his name that validates his music mastery with strings and chords.”

Songwriter, composer and Journey’s co-founder along with Ross Valory and Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon’s name, with over forty years of experience with guitars, is synonymous with expertise par excellence.

When he picked up the guitar at the age of ten, it just clicked in his mind that he was made for the instrument. Having found his purpose at this young age, he never looked back since. He started off with his professional music career in his middle teens when he joined Latin Rock Band ‘Santana,’ and hence began the journey that made him an essential part of the notable feats at Santana’s platform, namely Santana III and Caravanserai,

Schon continued with his learning, experimentation, and improvisations in technique until 1970, when he finally bid farewell to Santana and joined Azteca, before he founded his Rock band Journey in 1973, which he continues to lead till date.
Right from the start, Schon had the tendency to veer off contemporary trends, and as he progressed to learn the intricacies of guitars and chords, he evolved and formed his signature style that mainly stemmed from the 1960s’ classics, fusing perfectly with the blues. Although his style is considered deep and soulful with an intense dab of aesthetic improvisation, one can observe the influence of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Carlos Santana, in slight riffs and traces.

With a significant rock ‘n’ blues blended vibrato that he opted from BB King, generously dabbed with thrilling riffs, Schon not only squeezes out tones from his instruments but makes his listeners experience an entirely different musical plane that is rhythmic, soulful, exciting, and creates a great musical charisma. It is due to this that he is also affectionately known as Neal ‘Vortex’ Schon – a name that was given to him by his first mentor, Carlos Santana.
Apart from trying and testing his fingers on some instruments of different types and makes, Neal Schon’s two most valuable tools are 15 inches; semi hollowed spruce top with the mahogany center and curly maple back sides – his prototypes for an imminent PRS signature model.

Schon has incorporated his brand of personalization in his instruments, besides the original specifications of the production design, through Floyd Rose, Seymour Duncan pickups and vintage classic Fernandes Sustainer, along with an octave of optimization to the single-coiled volume knob. Gary Brawder has made the latter of these refinements.

A Strat on “Lights” and a D tuned PRS McCarty are also included in his list of personal favorite instruments. Being extremely precise and intricately attentive to details about his instruments, Schon, for his extreme philia towards strong and impactful effects, has modified his instruments through expression pedals for multiple levels of delay and reverb.


Journey’s Guitarist Neal Schon and Keyboardist Jonathan Cain Are Feuding

Journey is in the midst of a public rift, just months after their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Founding guitarist Neal Schon has taken aim at long-time keyboardist Jonathan Cain on social media, even as the band continues a previously announced tour with Asia. They memorably disagreed about the direction of Journey’s last album, and on whether they should record a follow-up, but these comments point to new fractures within the band.

I want to be elevated by whom I play with, not feel like I’ve got cement shoes,” Schon said yesterday via Instagram. “If anyone is unhappy they are not running my band; then they should leave.”

Schon started the band with Gregg Rolie after they left Santana in the early ’70s; Cain joined in 1980 when Rolie left to focus on his family. Already platinum-level artists, Journey then reached arena-rock megastardom on the strength of songs written by Steve Perry, Schon and Cain like “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Faithfully” and “Be Good to Yourself.” Perry’s late-’90s exit eventually led to Arnel Pineda‘s current tenure as frontman.

More recently, Cain has established a tandem career in solo faith music after marrying Paula White-Cain, a minister who delivered the invocation at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. Schon indicates that this has become a point of contention.

I’ve stated how I felt about mixing religion and politics and how our music is not of one religion – Democratic or Republican,” Schon said in the same Instagram update. “This is and has been an issue with me Mr. Cain and his now wife since he married. I’ve had to fight this whole time to protect the brand I built with Steve Perry, way before Gregg and I picked Cain to replace himself when he wanted to retire from the road back then. Well frankly, I’m tired of having to defend all by myself. [Fellow co-founding Journey member] Ross [Valory] is no help.”

Cain appeared to address the issue last night. Pineda also offered an inspirational message this morning, though the latter could be directed toward those who’ve suffered a weekend terror attack in the U.K.

By then, Schon had already asserted his foundational role by changing his Twitter handle to “Neal Schon’s JRNY.” “As Jon Cain said to me when we started to rebuild: You have keys, and you are the primary member,” Schon said yesterday. “Convenient amnesia; I still have the keys.” He also retweeted a series of fan messages underlining his arguments. “I’m not the problem,” Schon added, in another tweet.

Journey’s most recent studio effort was 2011’s Eclipse, a more guitar-oriented effort that debuted at No. 13 but failed to replicate their million-selling success of 2008’s Revelation, also with Pineda. Cain made it clear that he felt the musical shift was a mistake in 2013 – calling Eclipsea departure. It was Neal’s ‘I wanna do one this way once’ — and so we did. We did a heavy, rock n’ roll record. And it kinda wasn’t received very well here in the states.”

Cain later said was unsure whether they should ever record another full-length album, sparking a great retort from Schon in 2015: “It’s like pulling teeth,” he said. Schon has since shifted his focus, working with both present and past members of Journey on solo albums and a reunion with the early-’70s lineup of Santana.

Image result for journey neal schon jonathan cain

How all of this ultimately impacts the future of the band remains unclear.  Schon is hinting at changes down the road, including a possible reunion with former Bad English bandmate John Waite.

I continue to grow and be completely creative and want to take the band Neal Schon’s JRNY on an exciting new trip musically,” he said, via the earlier Instagram post. “Yes, we will always have all hits to play, but there must be musical growth also. I also need to surround myself with people that care as I do.”

If Neal does decide to put Journey on hiatus and collaborates with Waite, I know one person who’d make that collaboration phenomenal, former Journey drummer Deen Castronova.  

What do you folks think?  Do you think Neal has a point? Should they work it out? Should Cain leave?  Lets hear your thoughts!  Sound off below!