The most anticipated moment of the ceremony came when former vocalist appeared alongside his ex-bandmates for the first time since a 2005 Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony.
Although he didn’t sing with them (and hasn’t since a one-off event in 1991), Perry did stand with them at the podium to deliver an induction speech. If this moment didn’t lead to an actual reunion performance, it’s hard to imagine that anything will. But even without Perry, Journey is still able to pack arenas all over the world, largely due to their current singer, Arnel Pineda. Read the band’s speech below, including Steve Perry’s warm words for replacement vocalist Pineda.
Neal Schon: Everyone did such a good job. Incredible work. So proud of you. This is all about you, fans. … I love all you guys. Steve Perry [Applause] Thank you for reviving my art, for finding me.
Wow, what a terrific, long ride it’s been. It’s been a beautiful one. I want to thank my beautiful wife, Michaele. … I just, I feel great. It’s been seven years. She’s been out on tour with me the whole time. No records. … I love you. I love my children, Miles! He’s here. An aspiring young guitar player. I love you, Miles. Sarah, Sophie and Aja. Thank you so much! Dunbar! Thank you, you guys.
Aynsley Dunbar: Good evening. Well, I hope I can be sort of funny as Chris Wyatt, but I don’t think so. This is going to be straightforward. This is an awesome honor to be here with my own bandmates, Journey. I would like to thank my family, my friends, my managers, my ex-wives … And of course, a big thank you to all our fans for your support throughout the years. A very humble thank you.
Gregg Rolie: What a great night this is for waiting. This is my second trip here. And what a trip this has been. First Santana, Journey, Ringo Starr and back here with Journey. I want to thank Herbie Herbert, my manager and longtime friend through Journey. And Neal Schon, for calling me while I was up in Seattle and saving me from the restaurant business. Don’t ever do it. Just start Journey. And you know, it’s been an incredible trip for my life. I want to thank the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for inducting this band kindly. But also, for me, this is really about the fans. All of you. Without music fans, this place is empty. There’s nobody here! This is really, for me, this is really about all you guys, especially Journey fans for me. This is your award, but it will be proudly displayed in my home in Austin, Texas.
Steve Smith: As the diversity of the class of 2017 clearly illustrates, I’ve started out in 1963 at nine years old as a jazz drummer. I thank my parents for … supporting my musical passion. Back then, my favorite bands were the Count Basie Big Band, and it wasn’t until 1969 that I discovered rock & roll with my friend, [who] showed me his brother Dave’s record collection. He played me Jimi Hendrix, Queen and Led Zeppelin. What I heard was Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker and John Bonham. I could relate to rock drumming and rock music. As disc jockey Alan Freed, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee once said, “Rock & roll is really swing with a modern aim. It began in the levies and in the plantations, and featured blues and rhythm.” He said this in the 1950s.
Now that we live in a global community, more influences have been added to and will be added to the definition of what is rock & roll. For me, one of the most explosive ships in musical production came in 1971 with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Billy Cobham, Jerry Goodman, and Rick Laird … In many ways, that punk rock, jazz music, drumming concert was my template for my work with Journey. I’m grateful for my touring with Ronnie Montrose, where we were the support act of Journey in ’78 and talent scout Neal Schon noticed what I was bringing to rock & roll. Later that year, Neil, Steve Perry, Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory and Herbie Herbert invited me to become a Journey band member, and it’s been an educational award in the process.
Thanks to my children, Ian and Elizabeth for keeping me in their hearts while I was away on long tours. And very special thanks to my wife, Diane. We’ve been sharing our lives for the last 24 years. I love you. Thanks to Jonathan Green for the gift of songwriting and for keeping the legacy sound of Journey rock alive. And most important thanks to our fans from around the world that kept Journey in their hearts and on their stereos.
Ross Valory: One thing that you may not know is that this microphone is robotic. It’s supposed to come up and meet me where I am. Hello, microphone! Don’t make me come down there! Well, I know you’re really helpful, but you’re really not because there’s a big red clock that says I have three minutes, right? But then it says I only have 37 seconds. I also must say that Steve Smith did very well with his prepared speech. He worked the Teleprompter very well. I’m not going to even bother. I didn’t like mine. But I’ll start from the top and say that there’s a few things that were said earlier that I will repeat because their names deserve to be repeated. My life has been full of music from the very beginning. From the time I could hear. From the time they swabbed my ears out in the maternity ward, there was music everywhere. A large family, two talented parents who shared music with us, we learned from piano, ukulele, guitar. We all sang. As soon as I could, I was in a church choir, the school choir.
As soon as it was allowed, I could play an instrumental in symphonic band and so that continued all the way through high school. The family had a great variety of music to hear and be exposed to – anywhere from Miles Davis to Mozart, from Handel to Fats Domino, from Glenn Miller to Dave Brubeck.
So somewhere in there, I thought, “That’s where my world was,” until a new kid came into town when I was a sophomore in high school. He goes, “Hey, I know who you are. I know you play in the symphonic band, whatever you play, guitar at home. And we need a bass player. I’m starting to deal with a bunch of your friends, and since you’re a guitarist, you can learn these parts very easily. Why don’t you get your mom to go down to the local music store, grab a bass, get an amplifier, we’ll make some change and have some fun?” I said, “OK.”
So, from that point, the life of music for me changed entirely, and here we are tonight. If that’s one booking, this could be the other one. If nothing else happens for me in music, this could be the best that it gets. There are many other people who I believe deserve this, and I’ll start by talking about someone I met in high school within one year of starting rock & roll. His name is Herbie Herbert. He is our former creator/partner/manager. And within five years of meeting him, we had created the beginnings of Journey with Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon. And we all know, or maybe need to know, that he put the blood, sweat and tears and all his energy into seeing this band succeed, and we are here to thank Herbie Herbert for that.
But that, you know, we’re still here! What is happening? How have we continued? For the last 20 years, our current manager, John Baruck, and took a band out of exile and put them back on the map. We have him to thank. And then there’s all the fans, the hundreds of thousands of fans that have supported us for years. Thank you for this. All of you who have founded us, encouraged us, pushed us. They, our friends, deserve a piece of this award. And last but not least, out family members who maybe have suffered in our absence and given us hope, given us encouragement. Our family members. Yes. Our parents. My parents. And last but not least, the family who, and the love of my wife, Mary, who has understood and accepted this guy who goes away with the circus every year. Thank you so much.
Jonathan Cain: I just want to thank the Cubs for winning the World Series! I’d like begin by thanking my father and mother for believing in me. … from the time that I was eight years old and after, he later said to me, “Son, don’t stop believing.” On a life-changing phone call, as I started with my career back in the Seventies. He’s gone now. I miss you, dad and love you. Thanks to … Ralph Dodds, from the conservatory of Chicago, Jerry Milo … and to the late Buddy Killen, who gave me my first break in Nashville in 1969.
To my brother Tom who played drums with me in countless bands while we learned lessons together in rock & roll. To my brother Hal who always believed in my music. To the late Wolfman Jack and Don Kelly organization for opening doors and getting us started on the right path. To all the members of the Babies. To my brothers in Journey, for believing and trusting I could be part of it, or shifting and sustaining signature sound. To former band mates Steve Augeri and Deen Castronovo. To our music business family behind the scenes who work tirelessly, the record promotion people … The DJs who gave us millions of spins. To the record distributors, who made sure our music made it to stores and on the shelves.
To Live Nation and the local promoters and most of all, our faithful fans who stood by us through the years. During the ups and downs. To our wise managers, Herbie Herbert and John Baruck, for keeping us on track during the tough times. We shared over 40 years having blessed relationships with all of you. And I believe relationships are the key to building a ramp and maintaining a presence in our music business. Thanks to the members of the Hall who voted to honor us tonight. Finally, I thank my three children, Madison, Weston and Liza for their understanding and accepting their dad had to hit the road all those years. And to my wife, Paula, who stands beside me with love and respect. I love you all. And thanks to you, Lord, for keeping your guiding hand on us all those years. This honor was truly worth the wait. God bless.
Steve Perry: Hello, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! … I’m going to keep my cheat sheet because I’ve got a lot to say. I’m going to start with, when I was living in Los Angeles, I was looking to get a record deal, trying my very best. It was tough to get signed at those times. And I would always go to see Journey perform cause these guys have the most amazing musical ability. I’ve never seen a band like that in my life. So every time they’d go [perform], I had to go watch with amazement. Though their musicianship was absolutely par to none, there was one instrument that was flying about the entire city of Los Angeles. That was the magic fingers of Neal Schon’s guitar! Somehow, one of my piano tapes fell into the hands of Herbie Herbert. I would not be here tonight if it were not for Herbie Herbert. Because he did not have to call. He gets tapes all the time. But there’s something about the demo tape, and he called me. And the next thing I knew, because of Herbie, I was writing music for Neal Schon. And the very first song we wrote together was “Patiently,” you remember that? So, I absolutely must tell you, I must thank Herbie Herbert for believing in me. Thank you.
Aynsley Dunbar, Gregg Rolie, Steve Smith, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory. Are you fucking shitting me? Any singer would give his ass for that shit. … So, I want to thank them for all the music we’ve written. Thank you, Gregg for letting me into your house to write that Infinity record. For letting me into your house, Schon. Thank you so much, Jon, for all the songs that we all write together. Steve Smith for the raging drums. Alright, guys, thank you so much for all the music we’ve written and recorded together. Forever and ever.
I must give a complete shoutout to someone who sings his heart out every night, and it’s Arnel Pineda. Where are you, Arnel? Arnel, I love you. Hi, Arnel! Thank you! I’d like to thank my longtime attorney, Lee Philips. I also would like to thank my old, high school R&B band. It’s kind of where it all started for me. I would like to thank them. Thanks to Rob and the team at Columbia Records. The Journey road crew for the original Journey road crew. You busted your ass every night, every day. Load in, load out. Tirelessly. Day after day. Week after week. Year after year. Herbie knows that’s true. We would not be here today if it wasn’t for them, too. And also… I want to say my condolences to the families – I’d like to say my condolences to the families of the members… Herbie and Tim McClain got together and said you’re going to be on fan club, this is going to be great. That’s what happened. Tim McClain [and others] made it all happen for us.
Now, speaking of fans [applause], speaking of fans! You’re the ones who put us here! You’re the one who put us here! You are the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! You put us here! We would not be here had it not been for you and the tireless love and consistent devotion. We never would’ve stopped. And from my heart, I must tell you, I’ve been gone a long time, I understand that. But I want you to know, you’ve never not been in my heart. I want you to know that. And I love every single one of you. Thank you so very much!