In 1984, Steve Perry took the music scene by storm with his debut solo album ‘Street Talk’. However, this was after Neal Schon, another member of Journey, had ventured into his solo journey with two studio albums.
Collaborating with drummer Jan Hammer, Neal released ‘Untold Passion’ and ‘Here to Stay’ in 1981 and 1982 respectively.
Contrary to the popular belief that Steve’s solo career marked the beginning of Journey’s end, it was Neal’s independent projects that first caused ripples. In a 2008 GQ interview, when Perry was quizzed about whether his solo work triggered the downfall of Journey, he responded,
“It wasn’t me starting my solo venture. In fact, Neal had gone solo much before it even crossed my mind. He teamed up with Jan Hammer, and I remember expressing my concerns to our manager, Herbie. I felt it might create a divide within the band. But Herbie was of the opinion that Neal had to follow his passion. I couldn’t dissuade him.”
Post the release of ‘Here to Stay’, Steve entertained the idea of a solo venture. He said,
“When Neal released his second album, I thought, ‘If he’s doing it twice, I might as well give it a shot.’ Then, even [drummer] Steve Smith expressed his wish to produce a jazz record.”
This led Steve to Los Angeles, where in a whirlwind span of three weeks, he crafted ‘Street Talk’. It was a tribute to his past and his lost bandmate. With the assistance of talented studio artists and co-writers, the album was born.
Despite their individual pursuits, Perry always believed that both he and Neal would eventually circle back to Journey. He reflected,
“The thought process, especially from Steve, was that these solo endeavors would allow us to explore different musical horizons. When we reunite, we might come back with fresh perspectives, aiding the evolution of the band. That idea resonated with me.”
Yet, Journey managed to stay intact for another ten years until Steve officially parted ways in 1998, diving deeper into his solo career. Explaining his decision not to return to Journey in a 2019 Classic Rock interview, Perry remarked,
“The band is flourishing without me… And I’m in love with what I’m crafting now. Doesn’t the essence of life lie in chasing fears instead of being in the comfort zone? Why step back into the past? Embracing the uncertain and finding my way is what exhilarates me.”