Although once described in the Los Angeles Times as "America's most soulless band," Journey has sold 75 million albums worldwide.
The band formed in San Francisco in 1973 when two former members of Carlos Santana's group came together at the urging of Santana's former manager, Herbie Herbert. Neal Schon on guitar and Ross Valory on bass guitar were initially joined by George Tickner, guitar; Prairie Prince, drums; and Gregg Rolie on vocals and keyboard.
Journey's heyday did not begin until Steve Perry took over as lead singer in 1978, a role he held until leaving to pursue a solo career in 1987. Although a frequent target of critics — "histrionic" is a common label for his singing — Perry was considered technically among the best rock singers of his generation.
In 1981, when Journey toured in support of its hugely successful "Escape" album, Times rock critic Robert Hilburn placed the group amid the "Big Buck bands" that put together "several highly successful rock elements and blended them into a slick, highly accessible package."
More recently, the band — which has a petition on its website urging fans to push for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — has enjoyed renewed interest in "Don't Stop Believin'," a song that topped out at No. 9 on the charts when it was originally released.
Its use in the famous last episode of "The Sopranos" in 2007 was so definitive that one might have thought any future soundtrack appearances, at least unironic ones, had been whacked. Yet it is still played for purposes of sincere inspiration too, offering a self-contained climax to Fox's pilot of the new series "Glee" or Broadway's "Rock of Ages."
Current keyboardist Jonathan Cain doesn't credit "Sopranos" creator David Chase with the revival. He credits Adam Sandler — he knew something was up when the song provided a laugh in 1998's "The Wedding Singer."
"Adam Sandler didn't actually sing it, but there was this little string quartet playing it, and that was the beginning. Who knew?" Cain said.
Those strings might have been going for nostalgic chuckles, but few other uses of the song have — least of all sports teams such as the Chicago White Sox, which adopted it as its theme for the 2005 World Series. Multiple Detroit franchises employ it because of the lyrical mention of "south Detroit" (even though most Michigan natives contend there is no such place). The entire crop of "American Idol" contestants sang it on a 2009 results show. TV dramas "Cold Case" and "CSI" bring it out as a cultural reference point. Performers not known for their sense of irony, including Martina McBride and Kanye West, have earnestly encored with it on tour.
Cain says he had just signed on with Journey when he, Perry and Schon cowrote the song. "I had the title and the last chorus, so I brought it in and we worked backward. That was one of those great days to be in a band," he said.
Perry briefly united with the band in 1997. Journey still tours with original members Schon and Valory, as well as Cain, who replaced Rolie on keyboards in 1980. Deen Castronovo has played drums for the last decade, and Philippine-born Arnel Pineda has been the lead singer since 2007.