For whatever reason, it's difficult for many bands that rose to their widest fame in the '80s to earn traction with the nominating committee. Journey once had their own video game – which some voters have probably deemed a sell-out move. "Don't Stop Believin'" may be keeping the entire karaoke industry afloat. And their current singer gets dinged for having first gained notice on YouTube. But the truth is Journey weren't exactly a darling of the music intelligentsia even in their hey day.
"We've never been the critic's choice," Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain told Billboard in 2016. "They bashed us in the '80s – and every album we put out, they just pretty much laughed at. So much of that Hall is writers, critics. But what we've done over the years is quietly just continued to be relevant, so maybe they weren't right about us."
The numbers back him up. Still a consistent concert draw, Journey have seen fans purchase more than 90 million albums worldwide, with hits in the '70s, '80s, '90s and '00s. A 1988 compilation of Journey's best-known songs has sold more than 17 million copies alone, spending more than 425 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
But that's just the beginning. Here are five reasons Journey should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
They're More Than 'Don't Stop Believin''
Long before Journey retooled with Jonathan Cain on their way to multi-platinum '80s glory, they were a heavy-prog amalgam that shared a penchant for thrilling improvisational treks with Santana – the band where Journey co-founders Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon both got their starts. None of those early, pre-Steve Perry albums, released in 1975-77, sold all that well – but they provide a sturdy rock underpinning to any argument in favor of Journey for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Next, the final album before Perry arrived, featured a toughened fusion-based sound that Journey eventually returned to on 2011’s impressively muscular Eclipse.
Still, There's No Denying 'Don't Stop Believin''
Journey had bigger singles than their touchstone Top 10 hit from 1981's Escape. In fact, two other songs from that same album – "Open Arms" (No. 2) and "Who's Crying Now" (No. 4) – charted higher. "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" and "Be Good to Yourself" also reached the Billboard Top 10 in 1983 and 1986, respectively. Yet, "Don't Stop Believin'" -- written by Cain, Perry and Schon -- is the one that became a pop-culture phenomenon, thanks to memorable appearances during the 2007 series finale of TV's The Sopranos as well as the soundtrack to World Series runs by the Chicago White Sox in 2005 and San Francisco Giants in 2010. If Hall of Fame candidacies require that kind of cache, Journey can certainly check it off on the to-do list.
There's a Deep Well of Steve Perry Goodness
Journey secured pop stardom with the one-two punch of Escape and 1983's Frontiers, which accounted for a staggering 15 million in album sales in the U.S. alone. That same lineup reconvened for 1996's Trial by Fire, after Journey whittled down to a core threesome for Raised on Radio in 1986. But there's much more to their legacy with Perry. Between 1977-80, Journey steadily built a stadium-filling resume as Infinity, Evolution and Departure provided the band's first trio of Top 40 singles. At the same time, Journey retained their early tendencies toward flights of improvisational fancy, and a honeyed vocal blend featuring both Perry and Rolie that they could never replicate again.
They've Thrived In the Post-Perry Era
Unlike so many of their contemporaries, Journey were able to return to platinum-level success with a rebuilt modern-era lineup. Potential inductees Schon, Ross Valory and Cain were joined by singer Arnel Pineda just before 2008's Revelation – an album that became Journey's first million-selling Top 5 album since Trial by Fire. The follow-up, Eclipse, also reached the Top 15. Yet Pineda wasn't included on Journey's list of possible inductees, a decision that Cain pushed back hard against. "There is no Journey without Arnel right now," Cain told Billboard. "He certainly has earned his stripes. He's been with us longer than any lead singer has consecutively stayed in the band."
Guitarist Neal Schon Should Finally Get His Due
Because he's best known for dilated solos on power-ballad hits, Neal Schon is often underrepresented in discussions about important rock guitarists. But his canny mixture of speed, soulfulness and precision has been at the heart of Journey's sound through every different incarnation of the group. The child of an accomplished musician, teacher, composer and arranger, Schon established his distinct approach so early that he was asked to join Santana while still in high school. Schon has since built a hall-worthy skill set, as his sound now encapsulates the lithe fluidity of Wes Montgomery, the eruptive emotional highs of Cream-era Eric Clapton and the kind of Jimi Hendrix-style pyrotechnics that Ted Nugent once said were powerful enough to "reverse the axis of the earth."
Journey Albums Ranked Worst to Best
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