Neal Schon Shares Why Steve Perry’s Last Journey Album Flopped

Neal Schon Shares Why Steve Perry’s Last Journey Album Flopped | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via Professor of Rock / Youtube

For the most dedicated fans of the popular American rock band Journey, the 1996 album Trial By Fire, could be characterized as a nostalgic return to the band’s peak from the 1980s. 

Regrettably, the music on this album harks back to the band’s post-fame ’80s era rather than their superior sound from the late ’70s before they achieved fame. Nonetheless, it marked the first time in twelve years that the original five-member lineup responsible for Journey’s greatest success reunited to create an album.

So when Journey fan and podcast host Gary Cooper Stuckey took to Twitter to discuss Trial By Fire and remind people of how good it was, Neal Schon replied and shed light on the reasons why the last album which featured vocalist Steve Perry may not have received the recognition that many believe it deserves.

“I think mainly because we couldn’t support it,” the guitarist briefly explained the ‘failure’ of the 27-year-old album.

Trial By Fire didn’t get the support it deserved

Schon was referring to how the band failed to accompany Trial By Fire with a tour, which is something all of their other albums had.

The podcast host recently brought attention to the album’s significance with a tweet: “The Journey reunion album and the last one with Steve Perry, ‘Trial By Fire,’ was released 27 years ago today. This album deserves a lot more credit than it has received. Go back and listen to the tracks ‘One More’ and ‘Trial by Fire’… Phenomenal! What is your favorite from the album, and don’t say all of them!”

This tweet prompted a response from Schon, who revealed the primary reason for the album’s underappreciated status was the lack of a supporting tour.

However, what prevented them from touring? It appears that Perry’s hip injury and the ensuing internal disputes prevented the band from a decision.

Perry hurt his hip which led to the disruption of tour plans and the singer’s departure

Trial by Fire is the sole Journey album that did not have a corresponding supporting tour. This omission stemmed from internal disagreements regarding a tour originally slated for the summer and fall of 1997. And it’s all due to Perry hurting his hip while on a Hawaii trip in 1996.

This led to the discovery of a degenerative bone condition requiring hip replacement surgery. This health issue not only delayed the album’s release but also derailed any tour plans.

As the band waited for Perry’s decision regarding a potential tour, other members pursued solo projects, and their patience wore thin over time. Eventually, Perry announced his departure. Rumors circulated, with some attributing Perry’s exit to Schon.

However, in a 2003 interview, Schon dismissed these claims, stating that the decision for Perry to leave the band was not his: “Steve Perry was an amazing singer, and I hope to hear from him again. I hope that he puts out a solo record because I know a lot of people miss his vocals, and everybody blames me for him not being in this band, but I just got to laugh at it because it really wasn’t my decision for him not to be in this band.”

Perry hurt his hip which led to the disruption of tour plans and the singer’s departure

The former Journey vocalist later shared his perspective on the entire situation in an interview with GQ Magazine in 2008. Perry revealed that former bandmate Jonathan Cain had frequently inquired about his health and when he would be ready to resume touring. 

These inquiries didn’t particularly bother Steve. However, when Cain disclosed that they had been holding auditions to replace him with other vocalists, it marked a breaking point for Perry.

“Jon was telling me, ‘We want to know what you wanna do. We’ve tried out a few singers. And we need to know what you wanna do.’ I said, ‘You’ve tried out some singers?’ And he said yes. His exact words were, ‘You’re some big shoes to fill, but we wanna get out there. We wanna know when you’re going into surgery because we want to tour.’ And you know, I didn’t feel like major surgery was a band decision,” the rock singer shared.

Following this conversation, Steve Perry promptly contacted his lawyer to initiate a separation from Journey. He was disheartened by the band’s quest for alternative vocalists, especially considering that it was initially Perry who had wanted the band to reunite for new projects.