Extraordinary questions are the impetus of exceptional answers.
Truth Be Told: "Behind the Set"
Steve Perry formerly of Journey
Though I have interviewed Journey several times, I have done only one intimate interview with Steve Perry. Because of the circumstances that surrounded this meeting – and pardon my being so bold – I must write that it was exceptional.
Allow me to set up the scenario for you.
Millions upon millions will agree that Steve Perry has one of the finest, most well trained and most recognizable/distinctive voices in rock. CD and concert ticket sales between the late '70s and mid '90s back up my sentiment.
For a good number of years, I was a huge Journey fan and had the pleasure of introducing them when they preformed for three nights at the Hartford Civic Center in May of 1983. I have interviewed Journey several times for radio and once for a Connecticut Public Television/PBS program. Also quite exciting for me, the band requested I write the liner notes for their "Essential Journey" CD, although – unfortunately – the time allotted did not permit me to do so. I'd like you to know the guys in the band have always been wonderful to me.
In the past, when I had interviewed the members of Journey, Steve Perry was not present. I had always wanted to sit down with him, though it never happened on any of those occasions. He traveled apart from the others, had a separate dressing room, and upon finishing a performance – while the others went back to their dressing rooms – Steve went right from the stage into a waiting limo. Off it went before the audience finished cheering and stomping their feet and the lights in the arena went up.
Fast forward to the release of his sophomore solo disc, "For the Love of Strange Medicine". Columbia Records asked Steve to do a promotional tour to support the release of his CD and requested he do a few interviews, and he agreed. Once my program director learned of the Perry interviews, there was no one else he would have asked to do it other than me – the huge Journey/ Steve Perry fan. At that time if anyone was going to interview Phil Collins, Sting or Steve Perry, it was going to be me.
You might think the next part has far too much detail, but it is something I wish to share with you. How often does a situation like this occur?
Steve was coming in midday on June 29th, and the Columbia people said plans were for a lunch with him, and then the "one-on-one" interviews would take place. It was to be a lunch with a few broadcasters from stations in the Springfield, Hartford and New Haven markets, including myself. However, some ended up not participating, so it became a more intimate luncheon.
I tend to be a trifle reserved when I am in a group setting until I become acquainted with everyone, so my thought was to politely greet Steve when we were formally introduced, say very little at that moment, move along, and let my interview later on speak for me. I also decided I would sit at the far end of the table and just observe when we were ready to dine. That was not to be the case. Steve is most observant, as well. When we were taking our seats, Steve noticed I was gravitating to the end of the table and said, "Why don't you sit here across from me, so we can talk?" and so I did. When I ordered, he found it interesting that (at the time) I was a vegetarian as was he. He liked what I ordered, and so ordered the same. "How long have you been a vegetarian, and why are you?" he asked. The small talk began. From there, he asked me about this and that – he was quite inquisitive – which led to our chatting about music, music in our lives, our mothers and fathers (he discussed with me very personal issues regarding his mother, with whom he was extremely close) and other things you couldn't possibly imagine. In fact, he never really interacted with anyone else but me. The things we spoke about and the eye contact the entire time led me to truly believe that's what made our subsequent interview so remarkable. We were so comfortable talking about the things we did.
After lunch, as all of us were deciding the order in which the interviews would be conducted, I requested to go last. I patiently waited for my turn. When I first sat down to set up for the taping, Steve commented on how much he completely enjoyed our conversation over lunch, and I echoed his sentiments. We just clicked.
As I have written, the interview was one I will never forget, and it remains one of my top favorites. Truth be told, at its conclusion – which you can hear in our audio testimonial clip – Steve said to me, "I appreciate the opportunity. Your interview has been more emotionally stirring to me than the ones I did before; and when we talked before we even turned the mike on [it] was so stimulating, I was looking forward to sitting down with you."
I am certain you know how I felt - and then some.