Inductee Insights: Journey's Rise to Arena Rock
Inductee Insights explores the artists that have changed the course of rock’s sonic history.
As their name suggests, Journey’s career has been an epic adventure from the start. Watch to see which bands influenced the Bay Area rockers' development from a space and prog rock jam group to one of the biggest arena rock acts of the 80s.
Follow their sonic history and watch the full Inductee Insights episode, powered by PNC Bank.
As their name suggests, Journey’s career has been an epic adventure since day one. A meteoric force in the stadium rock scene, Journey insured their legacy in rock ‘n’ roll history using a mix of musical virtuosity, soaring balladry and undeniable appeal.
jamming at the start
At the start, Journey experimented with space & prog rock. But eventually they added vocalist Steve Perry. His unique voice would solidify the band’s signature rock anthem sound and make them global icons.
Perry’s sound was a perfect blend of soulful crooning and powerful caterwauling– and it defined early hits like the rollicking “Wheel in the Sky” and “separate ways” The track was one of Journey’s first songs to truly make use of Perry’s crystal-clear natural instrument.
From the late '70s and into the '80s, Journey would use this fresh start to completely reinvent their sound with the elements like: arpeggiated synths, power chords, piano rock, and stratospheric vocals.
creating a cultural anthem
Influenced by the theatrical pomp of artists like Queen & Led Zeppelin as well as the psychedelic riffs of Santana and Jefferson Airplane, Journey had somehow bridged the colossal rock of the 70s with the melodic pop of the decades to come.
“Don't Stop Believin'” is the greatest example of this: From Jonathan Cain's galloping keyboard riffs, to Neal Schon’s precise guitar solos, and Steve Smith’s thundering percussion to finally the song’s unconventional structure - all of these elements helped Journey leave an indelible mark on pop music.
In an era where listeners valued homegrown authenticity and powerful musicianship, Journey distilled both into a winning formula. This influence caught on.
After the release of Journey’s Escape, bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and White snake were all producing tracks that followed Journey’s playbook: extremely catchy, anthemic choruses, explosive power rock chords and lyrics sing alongs.
the next generation of journey's influence
These days, Steve Perry's volcanic stage presence and flair for showman can be seen in both indie rock bands like Arcade Fire and the flaming lips as well as pop stars like Kelly Clarkson and Adam Lambert.
The artists continue to push against the conformity of stadium rock with their irrefutable charm and rock-solid vocal chops. Lambert has even picked up the mantle left by Freddie Mercury by currently touring with Queen.
Journey helped open the doors to pop-tinged rock that was as hard-rocking as metal and classic rock but was as infectuous and melodic as Top 40 playlists. Journey's anthems can still be heard today, playing regularly during sports games, campaign tours, signing competitions and many other big moments in life.