Steve Perry revealed that Van Halen inspired Journey to make the lineup changes that led to their 1980’s blockbuster success. During a new chat with Ultimate Classic Rock, Perry recalled Van Halen opening for Journey in 1978 to support its self-titled debut, with Journey — riding high with its breakthrough Infinity album — headlining, and Montrose second on the bill. Perry painted the picture of what kind of act Van Halen was laying on the crowd from night one of the trek: “Now, you’ve got to remember that Eddie (Van Halen) and the group were on their first tour with Journey and we brought them out to open at the 3,000-seaters we were doing at that time. They cleaned our clock plenty of times and woke us the f*** up pretty quick. They were so focused and so on fire that they were just relentless. That was the most musical relentlessness that I’d ever seen.” It was after watching how tight Van Halen was that Perry decided co-founding drummer Aynsley Dunbar needed to go: “In fact, because of the way Eddie and Alex (Van Halen) locked, eventually I convinced Neal (Schon) that he needed to lock with his guitar in that same way. In came Steve Smith, who was actually playing drums with Ronnie Montrose on that same tour.”

Steve Perry recently revealed that he was asked to jam with Eddie Van Halen after David Lee Roth quit the band in 1985. He remains unsure to this day if it was intended to be a lighthearted musical get-together, or possibly a veiled audition for Van Halen: “You never know. It would be a musical collaboration that would have to define itself. It never got a chance. From a bucket-list standpoint, that might have been a moment. It could have been.”

FAST FACTS

  • Journey’s fourth album, Infinity, was released on January 20th, 1978 and marked the band’s first with frontman Steve Perry.
  • Infinity, which peaked at Number 21 on the Billboard 200, featured such instant classics as “Wheel In The Sky,” “Lights,” “Feeling That Way,” and “Anytime” — along with the first song Steve Perry and Neal Schon ever wrote together — “Patiently.”
  • Since its initial release, Infinity has gone triple-platinum with sales of over three million units.

SIDE NOTES

  • Recently released is Steve Perry’s latest album, Traces: Alternate Versions And Sketches. As the former-Journey frontman had previously stated, the new set “(Is) eight songs from the Traces record done acoustically and I’m really pleased with the sonics and I’m really pleased with the simplicity of the song and the lyric and the chords, which is basically what it’s stripped down to.”

CHECK IT OUT: Journey in 1978 performing “Wheel In The Sky” live on The Midnight Special: