The Inside Story of Steve Perry’s Return to the Stage
Former Journey lead singer Steve Perry shocked the world last weekend by performing onstage for the first time in eighteen years. Near the end of a set by alternative rock band the Eels in St. Paul, Minnesota, Perry emerged from behind the curtains to sing one of their songs followed by snippets of ‘‘Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'' and 'Open Arms.'
Now, Eels front man E has gone on the record to explain just how this momentous event came together. “It started because he’s been coming to our shows for a long time,” he explained in an interview with Stereogum. “I avoided him for years, and then one day I had lunch with the film director Patti Jenkins, who made the Charlize Theron movie ‘Monster.' She happened to be good friends with Steve, and she said, 'You should really meet Steve. He’s the greatest guy.' So I did, based on that recommendation, and found that she was absolutely right. Steve’s the greatest guy."
After having broken the ice, E and Perry became tight friends, and the Journey singer became a regular visitor to the band’s rehearsals. “He would just sit there and watch us,” E noted. “Over the years, guys in the band would try to bait him by playing a Journey song hoping he would grab the microphone and start singing, but he never would…and then one tour rehearsal probably three or four years ago, it happened, where he surprised us all and grabbed the microphone. And for the first time in 18 years or something, he started singing a Journey song. And it sent shivers down my spine.”
Once they finally managed to get him in front of a microphone, a new mission began to get him onstage, but it took time. “We started talking to him about it, like, ‘Hey maybe you’d want to do this on stage with us sometime.’ And he’d say, ‘Nah, too much pressure,’ recalled E. “This year it was different. He showed up to our tour rehearsals like he always does, but on the second day he came in carrying his own microphone that he brought with him.”
Still, until he actually emerged from the shadows, nobody was entirely convinced it was actually going to happen. “It wasn’t until he actually got on the stage and he started singing that I realized, ‘Oh wow, it’s really happening!’ And it was such a beautiful moment. Again, it sent chills down my spine just to be there with him in his element doing what he was made to do. And as my friend, it felt good to see him feeling so good about that.”
As far as any future plans Perry might have to get back in front of a crowd on a regular basis, E could only guess. “Steve does what Steve does, and you either go along for the ride or you don’t. I would love to do it again because it was such a fun experience, and I hope he will, but I totally understand if he doesn’t. It’s all up to him. I’m at least glad it happened this one time. In the meantime, I’ll just try to not stop believing. I mean, for now, he’s on the midnight train going anywhere. I don’t know where it’s going to stop.”