Journey's Steve Perry: Up Close
Steve Perry arrived at the arena for the soundcheck in a baggy sweatshirt and a pair of well-worn gym shoes. "This", he told us" is my work-out, up here onstage. I lose pounds every time we do a show. Hey, if the band fails maybe I can go and work for Weight Watchers!"
Steve, the Journey singer with the fairytale-prince looks and the killer vocal cords, is undoubtedly one of the hardest-working vocalists in rock and roll today. He leaps, he runs, he scoots from one side of the stage to the other, catching roses from adoring fans while encouraging others to clap along, all this without leaving a trace of sweat on his white-tailed stage suit. And he does this almost every night for more than six months out of every year.
"We've worked so long and so hard to build this band up", he said. "We've not been an overnight success at all, even though there's a lot of people who think we are. When I joined Journey I was thrown straight into the deep end, and I never got out of it. I love it! Sometimes I get mad at it because it takes up so much of my life, but I could never live without it. I'm a very hyper person really". When he talks, words run out of his mouth at enormous speed; what sounds like a slight stutter is actually words and ideas spilling out over each other, because he's so impatient to get his thoughts across. "That's just my personality. If I didn't have this band as some kind of release, I'd probably go nuts!"
Journey may have done wonders for his mental health, but being in such a successful and demanding band can be very dangerous indeed. "Perhaps Journey should have a government health warning stamped on it", Steve laughed. But he wasn't laughing when he went to a doctor with a high fever halfway through another gruelling Journey tour, and was told that he had "walking pneumonia". If he hadn't been so young and in such good physical condition, the doctor told him, it would have been no surprise if he went to bed one night after a show and never woke up again...
"I said 'wha-aaa-at?!' I couldn't believe it. I started thinking about what that meant, and that if I was going to die, it would have been in St. Louis where I was at my sickest and the tour was at its heaviest. Luckily I found out in time and got better." Though he has a steady girlfriend, the big love in Steve Perry's life is still Journey. That's where he spends most of his nights.