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Part 4 – A Berkeley hippie through and through

As Journey tours with the Arrival lineup, they are clearly not enjoying the success to which they were once accustomed. There are many things factring into this, but it does not mean they are less of a band because of it. In many ways, they are more of a band now than ever before. Herbie gives his impression of the current band as we begin our final segment.


Matt: It seems like they’re working now. Like they’re struggling to make things work for them now.
Herbie: Oh, man, are they ever. And thank God for Deen Castronovo. (He) was part of the Hardline band, and was discovered by our old lighting designer when he ws working out in Portland with this speed metal group called the Wild Dogs. This guy was the greatest speed metal drummer in history. Everything he’s doing now, learning the subtleties and the nuances of Steve Smith’s style of play – you know, it’s not easy. And he is a really big part of the vocals on that tour. He’s a much much bigger part of the vocals than you realize.
M: That kind of leads me to my next question. Of course, Deen played with Jon and Neal in Bad English. Post- Raised on Radio a lot of different projects were going on where there were band members playing together. Like Jon and Neal working with Jimmy Barnes and Michael Bolton…
H: The Michael Bolton thing. I put that together. I was with Eric Martin and Michael Bolton there in L.A. Mike had done so many solo albums and he said “I think this is my last chance. What can I do? I haven’t had any success.” I said, “What you should do is get together with Jon Cain and Neal Schon and let them do a record with you. Do some soul, and maybe do some old covers.” Of course “Dock of the Bay” on the Hunger broke him. I got my platinum record, Jon got his producer royalties – we all got paid, but, Bolton just…
M: He went off in the other direction.
H: No good deed goes unpunished! (Laugh) But I was doing those deals for Jon Cain – I did the Jimmy Barnes deal and all that. Keeping these guys active and busy with something to do I knew was paramount. They were struggling to pay rent and pay the bills.
M: It really seemed like the band wanted to still be together, but couldn’t get Perry to commit to it.
H: Oh, man – absolutely. Perry was stringing them out, and toying with them. He’s got more money than God, he’s got his first nickel, and he held the economics over their heads. By not touring in ’84 and ’85 he irreparably harmed financially Ross Valory and Jon Cain. He took Ross Valory into bankruptcy, and he’s been in one chapter or another ever since ’84. Jon Cain narrowly escaped bankruptcy and then had a divorce with his ex-wife, Tané. That same lady – man, really spanked him. You know how karma works – what goes aroung comes around, as you sow, so shall you reap. So he really harvested one there with Tané. He’s just barely kept his head above water all the time. And then, Neal, same thing. Three divorces – what do you want? That would bring down Donald Trump.
M: So, what do you think of the current lineup? Have you heard them play?
H: (I saw them when) they played the Warfield and they were great. They really played well. Augeri – it was stunning the progress he had made. I went to Benny (Collins, Journey’s stage manager) and I said, “Benny, when did it happen?” He said “It happened in Texas.” And he knew exactly what I was talking about. When did Augeri really start to get these songs by the balls and really start to own them? I walked into his dressing room, and said, “Steve, you did a great job. You own this material.” There was at least a half a dozen songs that – songs like “Only the Young” and I had them all on the tip of my tongue at the time – I said, “were delivered, and I feel like I heard them for the first time.” To actually have somebody emote these songs, look at the audience, and have a rapport with them was such a unique experience. Cause Perry never would have eye contact with anybody in the audience.
I thought Augeri was great. I went down to his dressing room and I said those things to give him ultimate confidence. And no one has heard more Journey shows than me. That was the last time – and I really don’t care to see them perform, honestly. It’s very boring for me. That music was so much my own and it used to really light up my life, but now it doesn’t. If I hear it on the radio I’m very blasé about it. Very apathetic.
M: Have you listened to Arrival yet?
H: Oh, there’s no way. I mean Neal comes and plays it for me at full volume and every incarnation of the mix, so I’ve heard it. What was song number two? “All the Way.” I made special efforts with my video crew to try to capture that in Vegas as if it had already been a hit, and capture the people in the audience singing along. It had already been out on the Internet through Napster. (I_ try to aid and abet its success in any way that I can. I really like that song. The first song on the record is one where you can hear that ghost vocal of Deen’s…
M: "Higher Place."
H: "Higher Place" - much more than you can normally. I know (that) is there much more than the average fan listening. So I hear it in the live context all the time, (but) there it finally appeared in a mix where you can see the strength and the viability of those two guys singing together. I happen to like that. I think they should go forward doing that more.
There's a whole audience out there of people that - unlike yourself - really never did see the original band, or anything close to it. You saw kind of a post-Gregg Rolie last gig of that version, before we went into the Raised on Radio era, and everything went south from there.
M: You've been out of management for a good long time. But, as somebody with that kind of experience, is there something that you could touch on - something maybe they could do to improve their chances going forward, or do you think it's pretty much a lost cause at this point?
H: It is never a lost cause. If it were my desire to go forward and break Journey right now, do I believe I would be able to do it? Yeah, I would have to answer yes. Absolutely. With the same profound sense and secure sense of certainty that I always had. If I decided to take on that I would do that, just as I had to do in the first place. But this time, I might have been wrong.
People want to rewrite history all the time, and most historians would tell you that the fathers of corporate rock, and the mavens of the genre, was Journey. I can show you - "Nickel and Dime" from the Journey third album Next was brutally ripped off by Rush to create the song "Tom Sawyer," that launched their career. I can show you, from the second album, the song "I'm Gonna Leave You" was totally ripped off by Kansas' "Carry on Wayward Son," from Leftoverture. The song that broke them was a rip-off of Journey. All these bands - REO, Boston, Foreigner - all of them had come and ran their course and gone. Everybody had come and happened before us - and was over with! Heart - everybody from Ted Nugent to Styx had broken years before.
Here it is, it's 1977, and I'm in a studio making a record with Journey that we called Infinity. It's a levitation to get the label to keep Journey on the label. They're releasing the record in February of '78, when the number one record is Saturday Night Fever, the number two record is Grease, and everything else is Donna Summer and "Disco Inferno." There's just no prayer, no chance, no way, Jose. I can't get nothing. With three records that were nothing really to write home about - why should we all of a sudden become a headliner? I put together this package that was so cheap with Journey, Montrose, and Van Halen - five grand for all three bands. And I made it work. They (the record company) said 'that ain't gonna do it.' I had my record company tell me there's not a chance in hell I'm gonna get on the radio with this record. And so, when faced with the impossible specter of breaking the band in those conditions - how in the fuck did we sell three million albums under the radar on an album that never made it into the top 50 on the Billboard album charts? With single tracks that had never been in the top 50 on any chart? Whether it's "Lights" or "Feeling that Way/Anytime", "Wheel in the Sky" - everybody remembers these songs as hits, but boy, if they were only there for the sad truth. It was such a struggle, and everything was below the radar and off the charts. We hooked up with companies that were the pioneers of 'foreground' music. These guys had every retail outlet, every shopping mall, every restaurant. We got airplay as foreground music, which makes gross impressions just like radio.
The real breakthrough was the realization that, for us to be successful, to get to that target demographic when they're at the record stores - that's the place to go. That's where we had a captive target demographic - the point of purchase. It's so hard to have an original idea, and the fact is that I had a lot of them over the years. The video screens were one of them, going in to the foreground music arena to get more and more airplay was definitely a stroke of brilliance. And, being the very first to realize the importance and the significance of pounding the point of purchase. People had done it. As a natural part of marketing and merchandising and retailing, nobody had taken the bull by the horns and waged a national campaign that dominated point of purchase. (That) included video play, in store airplay, the free goods and the t-shirts and all the things to create a gross impression. If you walk up to the cash register, and the person selling you a record is wearing a Journey t-shirt, it works. It has an effect on you. We hired a marketing company out of Los Angeles. These two girls that were former employees of the Billboard and Cashbox charts - they worked these charts for us, and they worked point of purchase and called every retailer in America. They sent the point of purchase materials, and it cost us a lot of money, but the interest came back in spades. We continued that theme throughout.
(With) Evolution there were some real Maalox moments there. I was afraid that we would not even hit gold. When we finally ended the world tour and that whole campaign, and we got back home, the album was at a million and a half. It was not at the level of Infinity. And it was then that I started really, really putting the full court press on the song "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin.'" We got that song to the top 25. It was with helium, mirrors, and levitation.
I used to say it at the time, and saying it now is even harder to understand. But, there are certain types of artists that have certain kinds of records. Even though Steve Perry would get all over my ass because I was unable to get songs like "The Party's Over" from Captured much higher than #35 in the singles charts - man, I'm telling ya. On an act like Journey, a mid-chart hit is more desirable than a real hit. Cause once you have a real hit, and if we ever do have one, then we'll always have to have them. They'll think that you were born by the hits, and you'll die if you don't have one. And that will be true. So, as long as we can keep doing mid-charters, I can promise you sold-out tours, and multi-platinum releases. Just like "Turn Me Loose" by Loverboy, or "The Stroke" by Billy Squier. Peaked at #36 - but both - the albums were multiple platinum, even though they were mid-charters. You remember them as pretty big hits, don't you?
M: Sure.
H: So you know what I'm talking about. So you know, the lack of sophistication on the part of the artist was such that I couldn't explain that too well to a guy like Steve Perry. He hardly had a high school education, you know. "F.O.B." we used to say. "Fresh off boat." But anyway, "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" put Evolution over three million. And then Departure - we had "Any Way You Want It." I got it to the top 25, and it did two million headed to three, (which) wasn't too much of a falloff in a bad economy. Then, "The Party's Over" from the live double album which was also double platinum, Captured, which came out with every other group in the world - everybody had the same idea at the time to release a live album.
M: That was the first album I bought by Journey.
H: And Captured was a great way to be introduced to Journey. You hear all the material recorded and sounding so much better. I think all of Infinity and Evolution sounded much better on the Captured album than it did on the real, original records. Kevin Elson produced the whole thing - that was very economy, that record.
M: There's speculation about whether or not the band will make the Hall of Fame. I try to think of what the legacy of a band like Journey is, when it seemed to get such short shrift with people when it was at its peak. What would you say the legacy is?
H: Well, if I have any problem with everything that we've discussed - I don't miss the tours that we would've done all those missing years, the money we would've made. That doesn't bother me. All the tickets, the merchandise, that would've been nice (laughs), but, it's not what bothers me. What bothers me is failing to seize your place in history. There were opportunities there, the door's wide open - you know - I'm a Deadhead. I wanted to create an empire - a lasting, multi-decade empire like that. All those guys are my best friends, that's where I go and hang, with the Dead guys all the time. And that was my vision. I'm a Berkeley hippie through and through, and it's too bad they left all that on the table. That's what I feel bad about. Their place in history. Now they can be dismissed as just another one of those corporate bands, when in fact they were so much deeper and broader than the other bands in their graduating class. People like to remember Foreigner and Boston being in that 'graduating class.' They (Journey) really were deeper. The pedigree, the talent - you know? Smith had been the best overall drummer for how many years running in Modern Drummer magazine? That ain't chop liver, bro! This was a monster aggregation. Let me say this - Neal Schon - no matter what he achieves, no matter how much money he makes, no matter what goes down, he will always be the most underrated guitar player in history. He is so brilliant. He's a modern-day Mozart. Has that place in history been achieved for him? I don't know.
M: Especially when Carlos Santana didn't want to have him inducted with the original Santana band. What was your take on that?
H: I fought for him to be involved in that induction. I was there at the induction at the Hall of Fame. But, hey - if it was up to Carlos, he would have the original Santana band dismissed as nothing more than sidemen. 'It was my band then, and it's my band now.' And nothing could be further from the truth. The leader of that band, from day one, from Woodstock through - I mean all of it - (was) Gregg Rolie. He ran that band.
M: I've been meaning to get (Gregg Rolie's new CD) Roots - is it good?
H: Mmm-hmm! He's got all of his stuff on mp3 - you can listen to it all before you buy it. Buy it from his website, buy it from Tower Records - it's out on 33rd Street Records. It's brilliant. And you can really hear and see how much Gregg Rolie brought to Santana and how much he brought to Journey. He was huge. What a star!
M: You know, I pulled out the Storm album the other day, and I still love it.
H: It's a great record. And Chalfant - let me tell you - he might even be better than Augeri. And he would never warm up; he would eat this cheeseburger, just - time to go on? Ok, put the cheeseburger down, run up on stage and nail it. He was too much like Perry, though. He would've been a problem child just like Perry was. He had such similarities, and he really had the talent. Augeri's a much better guy than both of those guys, and is a much more solid citizen. (He) maybe a little bit disadvantaged in the talent area, but if he's got more desire and more 'want to', that makes up for it.
M: And the fans have all been impressed with him as far as the respect he seems to give the music and the history behind the band. I would say that single-handedly is what rejuvenated my interest in the band, when the new lineup came along.
H: Isn’t that nice? Gratitude is such a warming thing, and there (is) such a wholesale lace of it in the world. I mean, Steve Perry, I don’t think he appreciates what he had at all. Or he wouldn’t have given it up so easily.
M: I think the band itself seems to have a greater appreciation now that they have to really work for it, too. You know appreciation for the loyalty and the dedication of so many fans.
H: For a person like yourself, that’s gotta be like talking to anybody that lives in a world of huge money, huge success. While you’re struggling along to make the rend and make your phone bill, you’ve got people that are acting like that and treating each other the way they do. Just not having the level of respect to appreciate the opportunities that lay before them. It’s a shame of human nature. Everybody thinks that the grasses are greener elsewhere, and we don’t appreciate our water until the well runs dry. Those are just human tendencies that are just so lame – but we will just not evolve as a society until we get past that crap.


A “Berkeley hippie through and through.”
Herbie’s words in this last passage ring true. Had there been greater value placed on the admiration of the fans, on the feelings the band and its music generated in people – maybe things would not have transpired the way they did. What is important now is that the band seems to have learned this from their years of absence.


The final draft was complete. Herbie really didn’t have too much else to add. He pleasantly fielded a couple of general questions for me, but called with one specific purpose in mind.
“Your whole first paragraph is wrong.”
I had assumed that Herbie was allowing me this interview as a way to get these things out in the open, or that he was not happy with the way he had been ignored by the VH-1 special. The real reason?
“You were the first one that asked.”
All those years. Herbie intoned that people had not exactly been banging on his door for this story. The record company wasn’t calling. Certainly no magazines or news media had shown and interest. If Perry – if anyone – wanted Journey to fade from sight, there was no one standing in the way of that happening.
He brought up his favorite group, the Grateful Dead, again. He mentioned that there are 78 books about that legendary band. “There isn’t one about Journey.”
Notwithstanding the Robyn Flans book, he’s right. Perhaps that speaks more clearly about the legacy of the band than anything else in this story. All of those years when there was no Journey – I thought I was the only one who cared. The only one who missed them.
I was.
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Part 3 – “They’re working in the street for him…”

After the Frontiers record, things were never the same for Journey. They were as popular as ever, but with Steve Perry asserting control, they were on the verge of self-destructing. Perry had just come off his highly successful solo debut Street Talk. He returned to the band with the leverage of being a commodity outside of the band.
Herbie talks about his experiences during the making of Raised on Radio, as well as the 1996 Trial by Fire reunion. He had success with other acts in the interim, and takes great pride in his accomplishments during those years. He discusses the sacrifices the band had to make to continue on without Perry, and he tells why he chose not to rejoin the band’s management team when the current lineup invited him to do so.


Herbie: My whole thing was, I wanted to have a really high-evd, together, state-of-the-art version of the Grateful Dead. Had Journey toured every year between ’83 and 2001, we would’ve had just that. As deep as our fan base (was). They were the real McCoy. They’re still the real McCoy without Steve Perry. There were several candidates that could do that job. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Steve Perry – because he’s the original, and because he was a great, great talent – is at his prime better than Steve Augeri, or better than Kevin Chalfant. What you’re dealing with there is you’re comparing the current reality of Kevin Chalfant or the current reality of Steve Augeri to the memory of Steve Perry. And trust me, that memory is jaded, and dead-ass wrong.
The last time I saw (Perry) was for Bill Graham’s wake, in Golden Gate Park. And he was late. The Dead, and all those local bands were participating by invitation, and he called me and wanted to (participate). (It was) the first time I had spoken to him, from ’86 to ’91, five fucking years went by I talked to him one time. He called me right affter Bill dies, and he said, “I know that you and Bill had a really strong relationship. I know that Bill was intricately involved in Journey all the way along with you, but I can’t remember a single story or a single thing. Would you please tell me a Journey/Bill Graham story?” At which point I told him the same story I told you, about the ’82 tour, the whole “Steve, I’m begging you.” He goes “How come you’re telling me such an ugly story?” and I said, “Well there’s not many pretty stories that involve you, buddy. (Laughs). And this one just pops into mind and it’s got a happy ending. It launched a huge business that’s very very successful. Remember the one I bought from you back there in ’84? We’re on tour with everybody!”
But anyway, he shows up at Bill Graham’s wake to sing two or three songs. “Lights.” “Don’t Stop Believin’.” And everything else. He (Perry) says, “But I don’t remember the lyrics, you gotta write them down, Herbie.” Well, I don’t know – I never did know them! (Laughs) (So) he’s like “Well, you better figure it out and write them down.” He’s like, “Jon, Neal, you co-wrote some of these, you do it.” I’m like, “No, no – those guys are going to be busy.” “Busy doing what?” “Busiy transcribing them down two whole steps!” And Neal Schon looks – his mouth open – and says “Don’t Stop Believin’ down two whole steps?! I won’t even be able to figure that out.” Neal could probably figure out anything on the fly. But he and Jon struggled taking them down two steps. I got the words together and Perry still struggled to sing them down two whole keys from the original. Here he is, hoping that he can fake it and that people won’t hear that these songs are being sung much lower than their original counterparts.
That was the last time that they heard him sing until he got them to come down to L.A. for one rehearsal. He got to the rehearsal and impressed all those guys, singing the old material. They had some fun, and that was it. Never touched it, never went there again. (They) made the Trial by Fire record, and I told those guys that this guy never intends on touring and supporting that record. They said, “Oh no no no, he’s gonna work, he’s gonna do it,” and I said, “No no no no no. I promise you. Anything you want. You name it, I’ll give you if he goes on that tour. Anything. I’m so certain that he’s jerking you around, I’d bet my life on it.” I offered, I tried, and I turned out to be totally right. He never intended for one second to tour. They took a huge advance on the delivery of Trial by Fire – about four and a half million dollars. A million dollars of that advance was against a tour, cause the label said “We’re going to make this super-expensive record, and spend all of this money on a dinosaur corporate rock band, but not unless we’re sure you’re going to tour.” (That) could’ve aided and abetted the success of Trial by Fire enormously.
M: Definitely.
H: So we’re tying a million of it to a tour. (Then) they didn’t tour, and Perry trumped up this whole thing about a trip to Hawaii and his hip. I cannot tell you how shocked I would be to ever find out anything that ever came out of Steve Perry's mouth was true. I cannot tell you the shock I would feel. And the notion that he ever had a hip problem or anything like that, or any kind of hip surgery, I would just be shocked to find out there was one shred of truth to any of that. Shocked. Why now? Why all of a sudden? I mean, you all of a sudden have a legitimate reason? You never needed one before! Why trump up one now? You know, it's the old saying - he was incredibly successful, and he's going to get even if it's the last thing he does. And the old saying is that; if you want revenge, dig two graves. And I know he filled one of them. And it looks like Journey is in the other one.
M: It would be a shame if that happens.
H: It happened. He was successful in burying the band for years - fifteen years, really. One and a half decades. That was very successful. He really (controlled their lives), while I went on and sold just as many records with all of those other acts as I had ever sold with them. I had never had a number one single with Journey, and that was something that was a big hole in my career. I had reached number two with "Open Arms" and I can't leave until I get it done. I reached number two with "Carrie" by Europe. I did top ten with lots of records like "Final Countdown" and shit like that, but then, Roxette finally, four number ones, three number twos, and two top fives in two years.
M: Didn't "To Be With You" hit number one, too - by Mr. Big?
H: Oh yeah. "To Be With You" also hit number one, absolutely, thank you very much. The first time I discovered Eric Martin I actually had Steve Perry try to produce him in the studio and he went and worked with him for a few weeks. And, I believed in that kid, but it was years and years later. When I had that number one, it was a legitimate, no bullshit, Soundscan BDS (Broadcast Data System), true true true number one. No hanky panky. And boy, nobody knew how to play hanky panky any better than me. I can't tell you that that's true about the Roxette ones - I was wheeling and dealing big time. That Mr. Big record was really a worldwide number one. I was so rewarded by that, and it wasn't about the money or anything like that. I felt so rewarded.
M: Definitely. They always gave me the impression they were more like a hard-rocking Journey.
H: A little bit, yeah. That all coincided with Bill's death. Bill was out there, in the trades, and saying, 'the quintessential manager is Herbie Herbert' and 'if I had to cite one manager it would be Herbie Herbert,' for the job he did with Steve Miller or the job he did with Journey or whatever. And Bill was probably my number one PR guy. When he died, my whole life changed. I was no longer motivated. My parents died in 1986 during that Raised on Radio debacle, and Perry was really ugly there. That's another thing (about) the Behind the Music. Everybody lost their parents. Everybody. Get over it. To have that be the central theme on VH-1, and then constantly we're watching him and his mother and all that - I wanted to slap him.
M: Especially in the face of Neal's dad dying what, last year, two years ago? That special seemed to totally negate the contribution of people outside the band, unless they were connected to Perry, in my opinion.
H: The reviewer I mentioned, Joel Selvin, was in that VH-1 special. And, characters so on the periphery its unbelievable had many times more camera time than a Ross Valory, or a Gregg Rolie, or Steve Smith. The thing is, the focus should be on this active Journey. I mean, what all these guys (the current lineup) did. Neal Schon did Hardline, which was very good. He did the Higher Octave thing, but I took him into that kicking and screaming. His new Higher Octave record, Voice, is a masterpiece.
M: Yeah?
H: It's a masterpiece - beyond, beyond, beyond. Here is the dichotomy of my relationship with my 'son', Neal Schon. Matt and Barbara (Schon, Neal's parents) sired him. They divorced (and) I took him out of middle school with Santana as a fifteen year old. (I) was his surrogate parent for the next ten years - easily until he was 25 or older. Before he was out and started making any decisions on his own at all. Every decision he made on his own was a funky and bad one, and every decision I made for him was based in total love, and nobody knows it better than him. And he knows it now. I love him - like a son, but I visit him in San Quentin and we talk to each other through the glass. He's my partner in Nocturne, and I am a tremendous partner to him.
M: Let me go to the Raised on Radio thing.
H: You know, there's a golden rule. When you say 'Raised on Radio,' I think of a golden rule. I think 'Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.' They go through the rehearsals, and they're ready to go into the Plant studios in Sausalito with Jim Gaines. Steve Perry, in order to go forward, insists now that he wants more authority and control. It was the Freedom record. (Perry decided) 'I don't want that title. I want to change it to Raised on Radio. I want to write these songs coming out of our relationships.' They did write some good songs, some good rock songs and some good heartbreak songs, for Raised on Radio. We're recording them and it was sounding really, really good.
Post - Steve Perry's solo record in '84, he had a gun to Journey's head. He said, 'Herbie, if you don't kick ass and perform for me on this solo record there is never gonna be another Journey again.' I said, 'Steve, you don't have to do that. You don't have to do that to me. I don't know second gear; I only know high gear and full speed ahead. I don't downshift. You know that.' It's the full court press cause I don't know any other way. I'm gonna move heaven and earth for this record. I don't have any goals on this record, any more than I've ever had a goal for Journey. I'm gonna go as far as I can go. If I had set goals, they would've been far beneath what we've achieved already.' And I did move heaven and earth. I got "Sherrie" to I think number two - another one of my hauntings. I got "Foolish Heart" top ten, and a couple other songs top twenty on that record. It went double platinum in America. At the time (it was) the second most successful solo album by an artist leaving a major group - second only to Bella Donna by Stevie Nicks. Whether it's Daryl Hall and John Oates, or the members of Pink Floyd, or the members of the Cars, or the members of Foreigner, or the members of Boston - every guy that ever tried a solo album - it was just a prescription for failure. No way. Stevie Nicks and Steve Perry were the only ones that were successful. Phil Collins' initial Face Value didn't go gold until many subsequent records brought it along. It was so hard to do that, and he publicly disparaged my performance for him on that record every chance.
So, here's the moral to that story. No good deed goes unpunished. And that became the theme. It really did. So, here I am, getting ready to do the same thing, and all of a sudden they call me over to Sausalito for a band meeting on the waterfront. I'm sitting there with Neal Schon, Jon Cain, and Steve Perry. They inform me, 'We're struggling, and Steve doesn't feel right about these recordings.' And I go, 'All the tracks are finished!' 'Yeah, he doesn't like them. He wants to replace Smith and Valory.'
Replace Smith and Valory? Over my dead body! What the fuck - this is a group, this is a band! This isn't Steve Perry and his side band. He had corrupted Jon Cain, but the two of them (had) damaged Neal Schon so bad that in his darkest moments I fear that Neal Schon is suicidal over the primrose path he let (them) take him down. That turned out to be a brutal mistake. I said 'OK, but these guys are going to be paid as if though they were here. And we will all eat the cost of this stupidity, and the cost of these sidemen.' - Which turned out to be Mike Baird and Randy Jackson.
M: Right.
H: And it wasn't Journey. It was lame. We paraded forty of the greatest drummers in the world through their rehearsal hall, from Omar Hakim to Chad Wackerman. They embarrassed me, but they truly embarrassed themselves. They had no diplomacy or aplomb in the way they handled any of these musicians. They disrespected virtually all of them, and then took the worst drummer of the bunch. Never even said a 'Hi' or a 'Bye' or thanked or - they never would make any of those calls. And this was at the point where I was getting pretty sick of doing this my whole life for these guys. My pooper-scooper runneth over. And boy, it was really running over then.
M: So let me ask you something. Somebody had emailed you and posted your response to the Journey board. The thing that they posted from you - here's an excerpt from it: "I'm happy for Journey, it's just that this should've happened seventeen years ago. Trial By Fire and Raised on Radio should've been Freedom and Arrival." It was rumored that you actually wanted Perry out in '84.
H: That's not rumor, that's true.
M: Was that anywhere near close to happening?
H: No! I mean, these guys hung on to the Steve Perry dream for another decade and a half! Now, Neal's out there with Steve Augeri realizing, 'god - Herbie was right.' They came and begged me to re-involve myself in their management at this point in time. I go, 'Man. I'm retired for so long now; I'm so far past all of that kind of bullshit. I was your partner. Now you want me to work with Irving. I love Irving. He's who I'd want to replace me if you were gonna have a traditional, typical manager. He is, and he charges you accordingly. He's not your partner. He makes a lot more money than you guys do. And even if I split the commission with him, I would still make a lot more money than you guys do. My heart's not in it. It's a labor of love. If I wanted to take you down for some sheckles and make some money off you and exploit you, sure. But I don't. I don't. I don't want to do it. I don't want to be around Jon Cain again, (or) even Ross Valory. I mean I love him, and I carried him through this business in a fireman's lift. But every time there was a chance for him to be a friend to me or stand up on his own strength and speak for himself he couldn't do it. He couldn't do it. This is the real crux of it, too. I said 'the only way that you guys are able to go forward now is to pay Steve Perry as if he were there.' Which is what they're doing. They're out there, they're Perry's "Ho's" and "Bitches', right now. They're working in the street for him. And I don't have to go there.
M: Right.
H: They do. And I feel sorry for those guys that they have to but they are out there working for that guy. Paying him, and paying their managers, and paying their business managers and their agencies and everything else. I mean it’s really – it’s nothing like the money machine that it once was.
M: When you say, “They’re working for him,” what are they subjected to?
H: They have to go out and work every day and he gets a share of the benefits of their labor without having to be there. (Perry) gets a complete free ride – I call that working for him. They’re out there working for him and making money for him and generating an income for him as if he were out there right along their side. Although he’s not, so what do you call that? Isn’t that the same thing a pimp does?
M: So I mean, just in layman’s terms, it’s not a five-way split, it’s more like a six-way split?
H: Yeah, exactly. The management fees and everything else come off the top when in the past they came off the bottom. I would divide equally with them and be an equal partner. So the whole thing’s upside down to the original formula. I just felt there was no going back. So, I turned that down. Irving was serious about getting a partner – he didn’t want to do the day to day – so he sent John Baruck and Tom Consolo in to help him with all of his clients. Irving, and his client roster – the Eagles, Christina Aguilera, and other clients of his, are a big part of the Nocturne stable of clients. I love Irving. I love his clients. I think if anybody could’ve ever gotten Steve Perry to honor his commitment and tour behind Trial by Fire, its Irving. But, even Irving was unable to. Irving has dealt with some pretty egregious characters – the Don Henleys of the world. He would tell you emphatically that he would not still be managing today if he had had to spend too much time in his life working with a guy like Steve Perry. When I bailed on him he went and got this guy Larry Larson. I had known (him) in the management business from the beginning of time, from Iron Butterfly to Loggins and Messina, to Kenny Loggins. He had been around forever. After four years of Maalox moments stacked end to end with Steve Perry, and not one commissionable event, he left the business.
M: After Raised on Radio, of course, the story is “Steve Perry needed a break.” Would that accurately sum up his reasons for leaving the band?
H: I’ll tell you what. I’m gonna give Steve Perry every benefit of the doubt. There’s a book by Paul Allen that I handed out in prodigious quantities to all of my friends called “As a Man Thinketh.” I probably gave one to Steve Perry. It’s a great little book, and it tells it the way it truly is in life. It really is just that – as a man thinketh. If you think you can succeed you probably will, and if you think you will fail, you probably will. (I think) Steve Perry at that point in time after ’86 decided that he was then – and as far as we know, he has not changed his mind one lick since – empty. Out of gas. Out of fuel. Out of creativity. Out of talent. Out of desire. Out of motivation. Out of all the necessary ingredients to continue to write, to record, perform, and entertain and make money. As demotivated as you can possibly be. And I have said from the get-go to all of these guys, “OK, so that’s that. Throw in the towel – don’t argue with that. Don’t try to push shit uphill. Forget it man. As a man thinketh, and he is down for the count. He wants to close the coffin lid on himself? Let him! Don’t go with him. They went with him for a long time – until it was almost too late. And, they may have gone until it really is too late in terms of prospective success. They may have gone too late to have a legitimate opportunity for an album like Arrival to be successful. Trial by Fire was too late. The window had closed already for them to continue to make new records. If you’re a band, and are stigmatized from being part of that old paradigm and that old genre, does it really matter if it’s a new Steve Miller record or a new Bob Seger record or a new Doobie Brothers record or a new Foreigner record or a new Styx record or a new REO Speedwagon record or a new Journey record? Aren’t they all subject to the problems of being a dinosaur trying to resurrect?
M: Well, apparently so.
H: Yeah! I mean this is the facts, Jack. This is a contemporary, youth-oriented business. Right now, Matchbox Twenty has enough problems cut out for them just to remain contemporary – and they’re a lot more contemporary than Journey! Even Stone Temple Pilots or a Pearl Jam have enough trouble keeping the drive alive. It’s just the way the business is. You know what Journey is? They’re omnipresent on the radio in classic rock radio formats. Those same classic rock stations that play them three times an hour will not touch a new track. So what do you do? It’s just a really tough road to how. But they can continue to go out, play the Greatest Hits ad nauseum, and get paid to do so. If that’s what they need to do to make (the) rent, to make the mortgage, pay (the) bills, put (their) kid through school, then go to work. If you earned it, and you didn’t have to work and your money worked for you, then there was another road they could’ve taken and they chose not to. I was showing them that path. Work. To me, work is way overrated.


The think I have been asked by many fans since announcing this interview is “Why isn’t Herbie Herbert managing Journey now?” From the previous passage, it seems to me that this was not a decision he took lightly. I was happy to learn that the band had attempted to get him involved in their management again, but definitely appreciate his reasons for declining. While the band may have a lot to gain from working with Herbie again, he has been so successful in his own right – both with other bands and now as co-owner of Nocturne – and really has nothing more to prove.

In the final segment, Herbie shares his thoughts on the current Journey lineup. Does Herbie feel that he could break Journey giving their situation and the current state of the music scene? Herbie discusses that and his own take on the band’s legacy in our conclusion.
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Part 2 – “You Gotta Make Hay while the Sun Shines…”

During its 25-plus years of existence, Journey has had nine different incarnations. Members have come and gone for different reasons. Some made their own decision to leave, and some had their status decided for them. Herbie discusses some of those changes in this installment, as well as the impetus for the band’s creation and for his successful business venture, Nocturne.


Matt: So, (Journey’s former drummer) Aynsley Dunbar, he supposedly left because he wasn’t happy with the direction that the band was taking. Would you say that’s true?
Herbie: No, of course that’s not true! I mean, the band was really having trouble with him. (It) was constantly like the road manager would wake the band up, and say “we gotta get out of the hotel. Some general, or some sergeant, or some police officer is looking for his underage daughter, and she’s with Aynsley.” We gotta just bust a move in the middle of the night – that happened several times. I mean there were all those kinds of problems. I loved Aynsley and respected him as a musician. (But) it would always be the case that, when I come out on the road, oh, baby – everybody tows the line. It turned out that Aynsley would just be the model citizen, but the minute I left, there’d be a parade of girls. What they called “Pampers and platforms” - you could tell the Aynsley groupies cause they were so young they were still in Pampers but they were wearing platform shoes and makeup so they’d appear to be older than fifteen. They’d be lined up at Aynsley’s door. He’d have a bottle of Black Label Johnnie Walker that he’d go through every night. He was just some sort of character. Then the band caught him a couple times. They’d walk into bars, after a big stadium show, and he’s like, “I’m the band leader, and I can’t get these guys to play right” and everything else. They caught him doing stuff like that right when they were having so many problems with him, so they insisted that I come out to Ohio. I’ll never forget – some big gig we were playing out in the cornfields, with a bunch of bands and we were the headliners, but they made me come out there. I’m driving them from like the Toledo airport to somewhere in Ohio for this outdoor show. (The) band was saying, “Herbie, we can’t go on with Aynsley anymore, and you’ve got to take care of it, you’ve got to fire him.” This was the ’78 tour of Infinity Journey, Montrose, and Van Halen – for 120 shows in ’78. The middle act, Montrose – who was supposed to be Rock Candy and Sammy Hagar and all that – showed up with a completely different band, , no Sammy Hagar, none of that. But the drummer that he had, Steve Smith, was a monster. We were watching him play with Ronnie Montrose every night, and we were like “there’s our view of a replacement for Aynsley right there.”
M: Perfect choice, perfect.
H: Yeah, so the guys told me to take care of it, and so September of ’78 I went to the Gramercy Park hotel and met Aynsley for lunch at this place called Mama’s, and terminated him.
M: OK, so let’s move on to Gregg. He left because he was tired of the road. Would you say that’s correct?
H: I’d say the truth is that he left because he saw, in 1980, when they recorded the Captured record, he said, “Man, this guy, Steve Perry, he’s out of control. He’s gonna fix this whether it’s broke or not. And, I’ve been doing this forever. I’ve got more money than I’ll ever need, after the successes we’ve had.”
I really love Gregg. Man, when you start something from the beginning, like Santana from a garage, and then Journey from an idea out of the ashes of Santana. (Editor’s note: Herbie had been the road manager for the early Santana band, which included future Journey founders Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon. Here, he jumps back in time and tells the story of the impetus for the creation of Journey.) Carlos and I got in a fight in Hawaii, the day before Christmas. (We) held a truce for Christmas dinner, I took him to the airport, and phoned (legendary rock promoter/manager) Bill Graham. I said “Pick him up, you’re his manager now!” Bill says, “You’re crazy, you’re nuts, you can’t do this – your career, what are you going to do?” I said “I’m gonna go back and grab those guys, and do something that rocks, instead of this fucking semi-fusion Jazz/Latin bullshit thing they got me doing here. I hate it; I’m falling asleep at the mixing board. You gotta get him to do songs, but that’s your puppy – you go for it.” He says, “When are you going to do this?” I said, “As soon as I hang up, because I got a gig at the Crater five days from now – New Year’s Day, and Carlos is bailing on me, remember?” And he said, “Can you do it that quick?” and I said, “Bill, not if we continue this conversation – buh bye!” So I jumped on the phone, got Gregg, got Neal, found them all over hell’s half acre, and got them to Hawaii. (I) put them on stage in front of 80,000 people, and the light bulb went on. That was the first day of ’73, and by March 22nd, we were incorporated as Nightmare, Inc. and moving forward to create a band that was as yet unnamed. We were calling ourselves tentatively the Golden Gate Rhythm Section, and then John Villanueva, who was with me from the get with Santana, said “Let’s call them Journey.” He named them.
So, all that jumping from the Gregg Rolie thing. He wanted to bail, and he picked Jon Cain. I went through all the personal (things). I said 'Wow, this is big shoes to fill, will this guy be able to do it?' I had met with Jon Cain several times. He didn't want to bail on John Waite. Waite had just broken his leg, (and) had decided the Babys had been a long-term situation that hadn't panned out. I said, 'Jon, if you don't feel comfortable, then say no. But if you do, and you're gonna go forward and you're gonna tell John Waite that you want to leave him and join Journey, fine. You'll be very close to a full member – very very close. We'll just give a little override back to Gregg on Escape and Frontiers, and then you're a full member.' He was a full member in terms of live appearances and everything else from the get, and we really did want to exploit his songwriting.
He had finally agreed, and we go through all of the machinations. (I've) got the band at their rehearsal facility in east Oakland and I'm picking up Jon at the Oakland airport. I had my 928 Porsche at the time, my 1980 928, and I popped the hatch in the back, and I put his keyboard in. The doors aren't even closed - I haven't closed my driver door, he hasn't closed the passenger door - he hands me a tape, and says 'this is a tape of my wife, Tané. Now, here's the deal - you manage her, you get her a label deal, you make her career happen, or take my keyboard out of the back, I'm out, I'm going right back to LA, no Journey.'
M: Oh man.
H: I go, 'Hey we had an agreement, and you had committed to me. And you're touching upon the single biggest problem I have with all people who pick up an instrument and decide that they're entertainers and performers and players. It's at the expense of any sense of commitment. And you were committed on other terms and conditions, and you want to change the deal right now. And that is jive.' And he said, 'Well, than call me jive. Do I get out of the car, or do I stay in?' And, so I said, 'Well, I will get her a label deal. I'm sure it won't be because she deserves it.' And he said, 'Let's listen to the tape.' and I said, 'No, lets not. Just shut the door.' And so, I gotta tell you, in no uncertain terms, I knew what Jon Cain was like day one. Day fucking one.
Anyway, Jon Cain's come-uppance came very quick. We go, we write that Escape record. We record the thing (and) it's magnificent. I sequence it, entitle it, and package it, as I always would. We're ready to hit a home run. We had this big party at Fantasy records in Berkeley, with all the press, media and radio there to hear this new masterpiece. Something goes wrong, and Perry's in there with Jon Cain, and somebody suggests 'Wow, this is so great; Jon Cain sure did bring a lot as a songwriter!' And he did! You said it yourself. You know, I agree. Whether I like these people as individuals doesn't have anything to do with my total respect for Perry's talent, for Jon's talent, for all of their talents. But, boy - Perry bristled so much at the notion that Jon Cain had contributed much of anything to that, that he just proceeded to dismiss and diminish Jon Cain's contributions and involvement to the point where Jon Cain had to leave the room and was out in the parking lot, I mean bawling like a fucking baby. Bawling like a baby. So I went out in the parking lot, and I said, 'Now you see what happens when you run into even a bigger asshole than yourself? This is what it feels like. Now if you think that you can go tit for tat with that prick, and be as much more a bigger prick than he is, I got news for you. You have met your fucking match. You know why? Cause everybody sees you coming, Jon Cain. You advertise what a prick you're going to be. Perry - he's got the bulk of the world fooled. And he had you fooled until tonight.' That was it. That was the beginning of the realization for Jon Cain. I betcha right then and there he said 'I wonder a little bit less why Gregg Rolie walked away from such an incredible enterprise, at such an incredible point in their history.' It was just a no-brainer. Stadium act. How do you walk away? I'll tell you how you walk away. If you were drowning in the ocean, and Steve Perry came along in his luxury liner, he would offer you a life raft in such a manner that you would decline it. I'm not just talking about you; I'm talking about anybody. The terms and conditions would be such that you would pass.
M: After Frontiers, there was a hiatus for the band. What would you say were the reasons for the break at that time?
H: What happened after Frontiers was that - nobody planned the hiatus, everybody disappeared. I kept phoning Ross. Now you have to understand - Ross Valory I brought into this band, and let me tell you a story. In 1980, when Gregg Rolie announced that he was gonna retire, and we were on the day of our last show ever with Gregg Rolie at the Sun Plaza in Tokyo. A video of that performance would knock your dick dead in the dirt - cause you never saw the band play at their peak - with Gregg Rolie. (He) was such a strong vocalist, he was an organist more than a pianist, and a singer more than - I mean, Jon Cain has struggled to sing as well as he sings today. Today he sings better than he has ever sung, and it's barely, barely adequate. It sounds good because there's a computer singing along with him. It's not natural. They're playing to a click-track at all times in the Journey performances now. But this was back in the day, before any of that happy horseshit. Wow, the way those guys - we have a complete video of that Tokyo performance, and the band sang as good as any vocal group ever - the Eagles, you name it.
M: I notice I can't buy a copy of that anywhere.
H: Yeah, I know (Laughs). It's such a great living proof that that's the best version of Journey, where they really played and sang at such a high level, it was unbelievable. But I remember going to Ross Valory's room. I knocked at his hotel room door and stood in the hallway. I was probably emotional, and said, 'this is Gregg's last show. And I'm losing; I'm losing my right arm here. Organizationally speaking, power base, strength; I've got the real leader of this band walking away. And he takes with him my power base in so many ways. And Ross, you're so weak. You've been such a weak friend. As a musician, I feel like you've progressed very little since I first saw you play when you were 15 or 16. You're the same guy. If I applied myself to management the way you've applied yourself to your instrument and your craft, this band would still be playing a nightclub in Willimantic, Connecticut.' It was one of the few nightclubs we had ever played, but I said that, cause I knew he would know exactly what I was talking about. And he stood in this doorway and just shuddered. I'm like, 'Right now, I'm thinking if I'm losing an arm, why not lose a leg, too? If I'm gonna have to go through a radical change like this, why not replace a couple guys in this fuckin' band. So this is a wakeup call - you get off your ass and start playing, or there's gonna be bigger changes here.' You know, since I gotta chop down this forest, what's another tree or two?
M: Hmm. What was his reaction to that?
H: He became a lot better player! (Laughs)
M: You listen to him now and that's very evident.
H: Yeah, he became much better. He got off his ass. But, that was in '80. Then we got Jonathan Cain, and '81 was huge, and the record just marched, pretty much, to number one. In '82 the band was so big, we had a stadium tour booked coast to coast, border-to-border - every stadium. The Liberty Bowl, the Yale Bowl - places that nobody ever played, or ever could get to. Then, all of a sudden, Perry got into their ears and they said 'Cancel the tour - we don't want to work. We've been working since - every year from the beginning.' I said, 'Hey, so what. You're a young guy. You're 30. You've got the rest of your life to sit by the pool and count your money or whatever. You gotta make hay while the sun shines! They said, 'no, we want to sit by the pool and enjoy our success. The record is number one, whether or not we tour or not. We'll just chill.' So, they had me cancel the tour of '82. There's a famous Bill Graham story. He just couldn't get this, cause he had had not only the Oakland Stadium, but he was losing the Rose Bowl in L.A. He had both markets on the band. And, he said he wanted a meeting with the band. I said, ’Bill, get over it. The tour's been cancelled - live with it.' And he said 'No. No. I can't. You owe me this.' So I said, 'I'm gonna meet with them tomorrow on another matter. We're out in Oakland. Just show up, and I'll get you an audience with them. You can do your beg and plead.' Which is exactly what happened. He said "you’re taking food off my family's table.” (Laughs) You know, he was so dramatic. “Steve, I need these shows, they're the centerpiece of my summer, are my Days on the Green and you cannot do this to me, please.” And he (Steve) says, “No, these big stadiums are terrible. Herbie's booked like sixty of them. Nobody can see us; they can't tell the difference between us and the roadies, it's just a horrible experience. There's no intimacy.” So Bill said “Then, let's do five Cow Palaces and five Forums.” So, he (Steve) goes, 'you just have to write a check, we have to go out and do the work. No. No fucking way.' Bill says 'Just do the two stadiums.' Steve's like 'What part of no didn't you understand?' He (Bill) drops to his knees right in front of Steve Perry, clutches his hands in front of his chest, and says, 'Steve, I'm begging you.' And Steve showed, for one time only ever in my whole memory, some teeny, teeny little spark of compassion and empathy, and said, 'Well, if Herbie can figure out how to make it intimate, then I'd do it.' So Bill's like 'Thank you, thank you, thank you!' Bill jumps up 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.' He runs to his Jaguar, hops in, and drives off. I'm sitting there with my mouth open - I didn't know what happened. I said 'What the fuck just happened?' And Steve's like, 'Well, you better figure something out, cause I didn't say I'd do it unless you figure something out.' So I'm just sitting there looking at Perry - he's just being a monumental prick. I mean just let me just throw this hot potato up in the air, and create impossibility, an impossible situation.
M: And that was the infancy of the video screens, etc? (Editor's note: Nocturne, the company that was originally formed to do sound and lighting for Journey's tours, is now a major player in the event production field, and led the way in implementing video as a mainstay of concert production. It is co-owned by Herbie and Neal Schon.)
H: You betcha, buddy. Necessity is the mother of invention.
M: I guess so.
H: I'm sitting there, stuck between these two pricks - Bill Graham and Steve Perry, going 'what the hell do I do?” And what a brutal, brutal thing that was. So I said, “How about if we did all the actual production, stage lighting, scrims over the sound, and then giant, full color video screens. Does the technology even exist; is it possible to execute something like that?” We just went on a rampage two-week quick study and decided how to do it, and pulled it off with such grandeur. The review from the Oakland Stadium said this would change the music business forever more. Now that company, Nocturne, we were hither-to-fore doing sound, lighting, staging, and barricades and all that stuff for Journey in a little company that all the band members owned. And myself. Now we’ve entered the video realm. It was so successful that we were toying with the idea of continuing to do video both indoors and outdoors. It was right at that lull. What we had ultimately agreed to do was four stadiums and 40 arena dates in ’82, so they did ultimately tour and it was incredibly successful. But when we ended there was great pressure put on us by Loverboy, who was our opening act in ’81. They said “would you do the lighting? Nobody can do lighting like that.” We were like – “we don’t do outside lighting, this is strictly a company for Journey.” I think that even Bryan Adams wrote a letter to Neal Schon personally. “Please! Everybody has lights like those (other) vendors lights that anybody can rent. We need the special look.” Then, when we did the stadium dates, Bill Curbishly (the manager of the Who) read the Joel Selvin review. Joel Selvin (was) notoriously wickedly bad to everybody in the press. Anybody that was successful got ripped. But this time, he couldn’t deny. He said “Rock and roll will never be the same, all stadium shows will follow this template forevermore, this changes the face of rock.” And’ I’m really going light. He was so effusive it was over the top. And Bill Curbishly said “We have to have this.” There was a giant picture that accompanied the article that showed the theatrical nature of it. He said, “Yeah, we’re just getting ready to do our farewell tour. It’s all daytime stadiums – the standard military rock complex with the scaffolding and it’s just – everything’s wrong. Would you do that for us?” And I’m like “NO!” (Laughs) But we succumbed, and 9in) late ’82 we did the Loverboy tour lights, and we did the farewell tour with the Who on video, and never looked back.
So, after the ’83 tour, which was very, very successful, these guys just walked away, without any honesty. I would try to call Ross every now and then, and he wouldn’t even call me back. I was like, “What was the problem, man? What was happening? What are you doing? You don’t come around; you don’t show your face?” Well, it turns out at this point, at this late date – and I tried to keep the drugs, the powdered drugs that took the original Santana band down – cocaine – I wanted to keep Journey away from that. You can only be so successful. I always said, you know, you want to have a beer, a little wine, a little reefer, OK. Pills, powder, and all that hard shit, hard alcohol, hard drugs, speed, heroin, no. You know, this isn’t a Puritanical event, but let’s not hurt ourselves, so that we can’t do our jobs, and can’t perform. It was really really tough to keep away. And it turns out that Ross had been using drugs, and had made investments that were dependant on touring. He and Jon Cain both (made investments) in ’84 and in ’85, when there was no tour, and Steve Perry just wouldn’t respond, and didn’t want to work. We were having band meetings, and he was just like “You’re making me feel like I have to work.” We’re like, “Well, we expected you to work. We expect you to work. Is it so wrong to depend and rely upon each other?” I mean, if I say something, you can take it to the bank. Apparently if you say you’re going to do something, Perry, you can’t take that to the bank.
So, by the end of ’84, he says, “We feel like we’re slaves. All these properties, and these production companies and everything else, I don’t want to work anymore.” He says “Let’s start liquidating these assets.” Assets that would’ve made them far more wealthy than their evergreen catalog had, even though they had a 37% royalty rate. They had an evergreen catalog with probably the highest royalty rate ever on an evergreen catalog. For that mountain of money you’d throw away if you knew the value of the assets of the buildings and the properties they had me liquidate in ’84. Part of what they wanted to have liquidated was Nocturne, at which point I said, “I’ll buy that myself.” I had concluded and signed the deal, and then Neal Schon walked up to me and said, “You know what, I know these guys are going down, however you’re making it. Whatever money you’re putting in or up or whatever – I’m in. I’m in. I’m in.” Which was probably the single smartest thing Neal Schon ever did on his own. I then summarily informed him that all of you guys are such idiots that the bank is financing that 100% and you don’t have to put up one red cent for Nocturne. It was a no-brainer. This dismantling of your companies and all your Daydream property partnerships, and all of the assets you have is ridiculous. It is ridiculous what you’re doing. They kept what they called “trophy properties.” I kept something that you would not call a trophy property in San Francisco. I bought (it) at the time for six million (and it) is now worth $75 million. And it was nothing compared to the properties they walked away from. Not only do I know the music business, but I know business. I know real estate, and I really set these guys up for life beyond belief. Oh, do they rue the day – cause they know, I didn’t sell my shit. And I can buy and sell all of these guys together (Laugh). You know, and at this point in your life, you should be able to. I would have complete fear and loathing if I knew I had to be on a tour bus right now with Neal Schon, working on this Arrival tour. He’s the youngest guy out there at 47. And I’m 53 now, and it’s a young man’s world. It’s one thing to be on the bus when you’re 33, it’s quite another when you’re 53, I’m telling you. I mean, this bears an incredibly strong resemblance to work.


So, the band had Herbie liquidate their financial assets in 1984, presumably to help some of the members meet their financial obligations. The building that used to house Nightmare’s headquarters – as seen in the movie Frontiers and Beyond – is now an Indonesian consulate in downtown San Francisco. With Bay Area real estate being among the highest in the country, it is easy to see the value that was lost with the sale of that building alone.
Nightmare gave birth to another leading entertainment business venture known as Fan Asylum. When that company began, they had one client – Journey. Today, they manage the fan clubs of major acts like Melissa Etheridge, TLC, Matchbox Twenty, NSYNC, and Bush.
In the next segment, hear Herbie’s thoughts on the recording of Raised on Radio and Trial by Fire. And, Herbie divulges what the band had to sacrifice in order to move on without Steve Perry.

(Side note: When Herbie brought up the recording of Gregg Rolie’s last show with the band, it piqued my interest. In a subsequent conversation, I asked Herbie if any of those tapes would ever see the light of day. He informed me that Sony now owns the entire Journey library that was amassed, and that he is not aware of their plans for that content.)
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Part 1 – “That was the end, my friend…”

When I first asked Journey founder and longtime manager Herbie Herbert for an interview, I honestly did not expect that he would answer ‘yes.’ When he did, I knew what I was sitting on – the proverbial ‘holy grail’ of Journey history. I imagine he consented to the interview as a way of ensuring his side of the story was heard – since it was largely left on the cutting-room floor during production of the VH-1 behind the Music special on the band.
In the first section of the interview, Herbie discusses this project, among many other things – right down to the significance of the first time I ever saw Journey perform live.


Herbie: Let me ask you a question.
Matt: Yeah, go ahead.
H: How old are you?
M: I’m 33.
H: So you never saw Journey in its original formation, in its original, you know – pre-’83?
M: ’83 was actually the first tour I saw. It was my first concert. I saw them with Bryan Adams out at Holleder Stadium in Rochester, N.Y.
H: Oh, your first show was Holleder Stadium in Rochester?
M: Yeah.
H: What an interesting way to go. I mean that was really the end. That was the end, my friend. And the big thing – did you ever see the movie, Frontiers and Beyond?
M: Absolutely.
H: At the end was Holleder Stadium, with everybody onstage waving and singing whatever “Na Na Na Na Na na” – and, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance – and many many people in the industry that you wouldn’t know or recognize were up there on that stage at the end? And that’s where the movie I guess ended in a freeze frame of some sort?
M: Sure. How do you mean, “That was the end?”
H: That was the end of that fucking band, right then and there, that very day.
M: Really? What happened?
H: I don’t know (laughs)! But that turned out to be the end, yeah. (That) is really ironic, cause I said, ‘you know, here I am going to speak to somebody who has no freaking idea what was really going on, and let me tell you what was going on. Rochester. Holleder Stadium. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding? I mean, I think I had to bring in power, rebuild half the wooden seats – this stadium has been closed and unused for so long…
M: Yeah, they tore it down later that year.
H: …and I just said, let me spruce (the place) up for just one more hurrah. They (the promoters) said “We’re not putting in a penny.” I said “I don’t give a shit, I got the money – I’ll fix that place.” They said “what else can you do?” And I just remember that the available venues were just reeking and sucking around there.
M: Yeah, at that point there really weren’t any good venues.
H: And the band was so big, coast to coast and border to border, that, you know, I had to almost go out and design and find my places to play.
M: Right.
H: And you know, for anybody – any other act – Rochester wasn’t even part of the itinerary. Yeah, it’s just a prime example – whether it’s Pocatello, Idaho or Murfreesboro, Tennessee – Rochester, New York (we drew) close to 30,000 people. I don’t think so! You know, even the biggest acts today can’t do that kinda stuff.
M: I’m going to take you to the Behind the Music episode real quick. They really didn’t seem to fully credit you for the formation and the success of the band. What was your reaction to that?
H: I was surprised to be involved in the history at all. I mean, I can’t imagine – with Steve Perry having the editorial control that he had – what was said to keep me in there. I think this is your answer right here – because all the other guys signed agreements that were so onerous and egregious as to not only can they not ever make a disparaging comment towards Steve Perry, but they are prohibited from writing autobiographies, authorizing biographies, participating in any way in an unauthorized biography.
M: Wow.
H: All that control, I mean, geez – I wholly expected to be written out of the history when the camera crew showed up. I told the director – who really insulted my intelligence – “you have no editorial content credibility with Steve Perry having the final cut. How can you put your name in the credits as director?' He got all self-righteously indignant - he says 'I would never have gotten into a project like that!' And I said 'is this for the benefit of the other people here working? Is this for your camera guy; is this for your sound guy? You're talking to me - did I just fall off a turnip truck?' Because of the control that Steve had, plus prohibiting the members of Journey from ever re-recording any songs that were previously recorded with him.
He and his attorney just drafted this unbelievable thing, I told the guys never to sign it, and they did. Sixteen, seventeen years later, Rochester, New York, (they're like) 'Next year, let's do it again!' That was really the end, and that was really the last show. Now, its 2001, eighteen years after the fact, and now these guys got the bug to go do this, and so powerful is that bug that they gave away the store. I mean, how they'll ever explain this to their children I can't imagine. But anyway, they gave it away completely, and that left them in a pretty impossible position.
And, so Irving Azoff, god bless him, went to Perry, and talked Perry into letting them re-record and shoot the DVD that my company (Nocturne, which Herbie co-owns with Neal Schon) did in Vegas, as it turns out. The minute that was put in the books, I said 'oh my god, Irving made a deal!' I called Irving, and he says 'yup, yup, I made a deal. And, not only is he allowing that, but we're going to support it - the album and tour - with a VH-1 Behind the Music.' I said, 'He's going to cooperate and participate?' and he said 'yeah.' And I said 'Wow. Now don't ruin my night by telling me what you had to give - it will all come out in the wash. We're all gonna see what you had to give to get him to do that.' And it was that ultimate editorial control. And so, when all of these other guys have signed this agreement and all you can get out of them is this homogenized, pasteurized pulp - nothing with substance, all candy-coated - that is the worst thing you can get them to say. The most damning and incriminating thing is 'By agreement I am not allowed to speak to those issues, or speak about those matters.' And then, off camera, everybody - Neal Schon and Ross Valory are saying 'You really need to talk to Herbie, he didn't sign such an agreement.'
M: That's what gave me the idea to contact you. Neal had suggested it in a post on the band's website.
H: Of course, they did (talk to me). I said this to this guy - maybe 25 times, 'none of this is going to make it. I'm not going to give you anything that you can put in that VH-1 special.' I said, 'I'm going to tell the truth, and you haven't heard this yet. You know, you're not going to get much.' And, eight hours I was on camera - eight hours! Now, if you could add up all my segments to come to 30 seconds I'd be impressed. It probably was much more than that, but Perry went nuts. And, if you saw the very first promos for VH-1 that came out, it showed Steve Perry saying, 'I never really felt like I was a part of the band.' Then it washed to me, where I'm saying, 'Yeah, that's like the Pope saying he never really felt Catholic.'
Do you know how quick that was taken out? Perry launched like an MX missile when he saw that. He went crazy. That promo was eliminated and that little segment was taken out of VH-1. I mean, even ever so slightly disparaging - and that's not disparaging - that's just saying 'that's like the Pope's not really Catholic!' Here he is, the Joe Montana of this team, and he never really felt like he was a part of the team. I'm just commenting on the absurdity of his comment. And, of course, the VH-1 guys wanted it because it was the only thing that gave the viewer (the idea that) 'well maybe there's going to be some meat and potatoes here. Maybe there's going to be some meat on the bone.' False alarm
M: And there would've been had there been more of your interview.

H: More of mine, Pat Morrow (Journey's former tour manager) was on camera, god knows. Six hours. Not one piece of footage of Pat was used. Pat was a huge, huge bone of contention between Perry and I. Pat went on to become a captain of industry with Nocturne, and is now successfully retired. And a lot of the problems that Steve had with Pat Steve was right about. But, with a guy like Steve Perry, everything is a hang-up to him. This guy is the farthest thing from a hippie you could imagine. Zero love. Ya know, zero love.
M: Wow. There are a lot of fans that are going to react to that.
H: Oh, they are? You think that is the truth? Every fan - and this is what I thought I was going to have with you on the phone - another fan that might've even fallen in love with that band in an objective way. (They) fall in love with the songs, fell in love with the music and the passion of the performances that is undeniable, and just read into that that these guys are bigger, better, deeper people than they might really be.
M: So let me ask you, because, what very little did make it into Behind the Music, is that you were actually the one that insisted that Perry join the band. I put the band together, absolutely, man by man. Personally hand-picked each person and it was, you know, it was MY band - no doubt about it. It was my band and I had total authority, and total autonomy and total control, and nobody minded one fucking bit.
M: That was largely the impression that I got when I was growing up. When you read the statement that you "formed it around Neal Schon," that you really were picking and choosing the different people that you wanted to complement him.
H: Absolutely - handpicked, final authority on it. When I put Steve Perry in the band, Neal Schon was not even on speaking terms with me, cause that guy hated (Perry) so much. He flat out didn't want him. I flat out knew that he was the guy, and that everything that Perry brought as a vocalist and as a songwriter was exactly what we needed. I just knew I was right.
M: And that wound up being the case.
H: We had another singer in the band named Robert Fleischman, who the band loved. We were on tour with Emerson, Lake, and Palmer in '77, and it was a big stadium date along the way. He was doing well, but he was really a pompous little poodle, and really tough to deal with. He hadn't even made a record yet. That kind of thing just gets old and tired, and I was really getting tired of this guy.
Perry had been hovering around in my life for years. And, I knew that he was talented but I'd been told (about him) by people that knew him from Fresno - from childhood, from his cousin. His cousin and one of my best friends were big-time dealers in the city. And Perry would come up and 'shanghai' him for drugs - you know, 'you gotta give them to me, if you don't, then I'm going back home to Fresno, Larry, and tell your mom.' That's called 'shanghaiing'. (Meanwhile,) he's saying, "Give this tape to Herbie, give this tape to Herbie" to Larry and Jack Villanueva (Jack, along with his brother John, worked with Herbie throughout his years with Santana, and continued working with him on Journey). Jack would never give me the tape. And I said (to Jack), "Why, what about that guy?" He'd say 'you don't want him. Even that good, even if you were talking about Elvis Presley right there, he's just a jive mother-fucker.'
But I went in with my eyes wide open, you know, knew the possibilities myself but was such a young, idealist hippie that I thought that I would smother this guy with so much love and success that all that shit will wash away. Wrong! (Laughs)
M: I kind of anticipated that it would be personality conflicts that ultimately resulted in the band 'going their separate ways' so to speak. How early did that stuff start to happen?
H: There was no "personality conflict." (Perry wasn't) really communicating to anybody - he was isolating himself - but we're functioning and we're getting it done. And you think these guys broke up, or that Perry was ever honest about his intentions ever once? It's unbelievable what he did to these guys. I'm a manager. At the point that Journey stopped in '83 they'd sold maybe 22 - 25 million records. Nothing to sneeze at, but nothing compared to the 75 million they've sold now. What I was able to do for them in death was more fantastic than in life. That pisses Perry off because it reflects on me more than it does on them. And what a manager is able to do with a catalog. And of course I was able to go and get the band Europe, the band Roxette from Sweden, the Electric Boys from Sweden, Mr. Big, as you know…
M: One of my favorites
H: …and of course, Steve Miller. I turned him into a big workhorse and showed the way. I said 'you don't think Journey can't continue to do major business?' I'm going to drag Steve Miller out of retirement in 1988 at 300 pounds, and you watch me, Neal Schon. You'll be the opening act - whatever project you've got going down - and boy, did that go down exactly that way. I'm selling out sheds all across the country with Steve Miller and - Neal put together a band with Paul Rodgers. Very good, by the way, but didn't sell any records or tickets. The original Santana band, I continued to manage the catalog until I retired, and the Steve Miller catalog, all the first 14 records or whatever, and Journey's catalog, and all three of them were evergreens (Editor's note: Evergreen is an industry term for reissued material that consistently sells records.) What a coinkydink! (Laughs)
And how to work a label, how to work a catalog - that is an art form. Forget about it! You know, I take just as much pride in that as I do any of the touring innovations, anything Journey did while they were active because they aren't around there to say 'we did this, and this is us.' You know? Of course, they made the records, but hey, so did Boston and Foreigner and Styx and REO Speedwagon. They all made records too. Kansas made records, so why don't their catalogs sell? Hello.

M: I see your point.
H: And what is that? Either these guys must've been buried with a horseshoe up their ass, or they must've known somebody who knew how to get things done. So, the tsunami of money and revenue that I generated for those guys hides a multitude of my talent. It's all hidden behind their riches.
M: That Greatest Hits album is on the catalog chart and is still outselling some brand new albums.
H: Yeah, but they really screwed that up. That Greatest Hits record that I put out, I think, in ’89 that was at the top of that catalog chart for nearly a decade. And when Journey – when Steve screwed us (was when) they made Trial by Fire. They spent more money making that record than all the prior Journey records to date at that point put together. They spent so much money making that record and it didn’t sound like a great Journey record. It was so monotonal, and Perry was a key toned down. It’s only speculation, but my speculation is that sometime around his 35th or 36th birthday, his voice changed. It happens. Everybody knows about how your voice changes at puberty. But all of a sudden, when you get to be about 36 or 37, even Wayne Newton who was that high high soprano, all of a sudden – a tenor now. You know, it’s not like he went to baritone, he’s just not up there in that range where he used to sing. And Perry got there, and decided ‘man, I’m going in the tank – I can’t do these songs in the original keys. I’m not going down alone; I want to take everybody with me. And somehow prove, through attrition or one way or another that I’m the key to Journey’s success, just because my non-participation will mean their failure. Or their inability to go forward.” And that’s a farce. I mean, everybody is ostensibly replaceable, myself included. And you, Steve Perry, are more imminently replaceable than even I.
M: Ok, so let me ask you. When did you first feel like power was shifting away from you as the driving force behind Journey, and more towards Steve?
H: Even on Frontiers. During that tour, he was really upset for the most part with this ongoing success, and me continually being right about all of these things. I had this grand plan that I presented before the Infinity album. I said, “Here’s the title of all our albums – Infinity, Evolution, Departure, Captured, Escape, Frontiers and Freedom. And here’s our artwork, fresh from Kelley/Mouse* and everything else. When we got to Frontiers, Steve really wanted to interrupt that. And he fought like hell to change the art and the imagery. And we did – to that Elmo space-guy – from what we originally had from Kelley and Mouse. I prevailed on the name, and he prevailed on changing the art. Which was still a merchandisable, space-alien kind of thing, but it was a real compromise from the quality of what our packaging had been. And it was our signature style. It was instantly recognizable. We had achieved that with Escape. Escape, the basic album package, shows up in stores, and you can’t read Journey, or the name Journey anywhere, but there wasn’t a soul that walked into a retail outlet that didn’t know immediately that that was Journey. You know what I’m talking about?
M: Absolutely.
H: And that’s what should’ve continued with Frontiers. That’s where he really started to do that. At which point the meetings degenerated into a pissing act between myself and Steve Perry and his attorney, with all of the other members of the band watching, like a tennis match. This is where I lost enormous amounts of respect for Neal Schon, Ross Valory, Jon Cain – who was never the mensch that Gregg Rolie was – he was just the only replacement that was viable that we could find. And, Gregg found him. Gregg pointed him out to me. I just said, “Gregg, how the fuck will I ever replace you? I want to shut this thing down.” He says, “This kid that’s in the opening band.” I said “the fucking Babys STINK!” (Laughs). He’s like, “No, man, watch him again, watch him again. That keyboard player’s got some talent.”
M: Well, he certainly brought some songwriting to the band.
H: Yes, he did. Yes, he did. But it’s so much more important to surround yourself with good people than great talent. Because the talent does not – and will not ever – overcome being a bad person. And the people that have such great talent firmly have the belief that their talent will overcome any of their bad actions.


This last statement stuck with me throughout the interview, for one reason. It seems to me that so many of the reasons that Herbie’s ultimate goal for the band (which is discussed later) was not achieved were due to the egos and personalities of the people in the band. Is hindsight 20/20? Of course it is. Would the band have been as successful if Herbie had less talented but more “team-oriented” members? Who’s to say? But, Herbie did create the band to be successful, and on that level, he achieved greatly.
This success did not come without changes and hard decisions, however. In the next installment, Herbie discusses more of the personnel changes that were made through the years in Journey. Some of his reasons for the changes are different from the ones you’ve heard before.
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May 1, 2016

In 2001, I was granted the opportunity to interview Herbie Herbert, manager and founder of the rock band Journey. Three years prior, the band had decided to part ways with their legendary vocalist Steve Perry, and begin the long, hard climb back to successful touring band with a virtually unknown vocalist.

Dialogue among fans was split, with a large faction in the “How dare they perform without Steve Perry?” column. I hoped to contribute the alternative side - with “Why shouldn’t they?” being my operative question. The four-part series proved quite the conversation piece, refuting a lot of long-held assumptions about the relationships between members, and the reasons for additions - and attrition - throughout their career.

Fifteen years later, Journey is an annual mainstay on the summer concert tour scene. Their exposure has gone through the roof, with their 1981 classic “Don’t Stop Believin’” recognized as the most downloaded rock song of all time. They are on their third replacement vocalist, and this year have welcomed back longtime member Steve Smith on drums.

The Journey continues, and yet, I am kind of shocked that I see discussion of this article still coming up among fans. It has been accessible only through the internet Wayback Machine for several years. (I know, because that’s where I got soft copy so I didn’t have to re-type the entire thing!) While I feel like I have said all I care to say about the discussion, I have made the decision to put it back online for the people I hear from every now and then, who haven’t seen it in its entirety.

I wanted to capture the sights, the sounds, the smells… (can’t help but feel like Marti DiBergi here)… I got that, but I got more. A lot more.
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