Neal Schon didn’t get to perform with Steve Perry during Journey‘s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction last week, but he still came away with a treasured memory.
Time spent with Perry before the induction, visiting in a back-stage room at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., provided a moment of closure after so long apart. “I looked at him and said, ‘Hey man, I really miss you,’” Schon tells Rolling Stone. “There was very good eye contact. It was real. It wasn’t just things being said because of the ceremony and to keep things cool.”
Later, when he reached the stage, Schon admits he was nearly overcome. “I had a whole speech written out,” he said. “It wasn’t on the long side, but definitely from the heart,” he said. “When I walked up to the mic and Steve met me and he gave me this big hug I just couldn’t get it together to read, so I didn’t read.”
Schon says that swirling emotion likely kept Perry from joining his old band during the musical portion of their induction. “Knowing everything else and how he was feeling – he was very emotional too – it’s understandable to me that he wouldn’t want to sing. It was just highly emotional,” Schon said.
Instead, Schon and fellow inductees Jonathan Cain, Steve Smith and Ross Valory performed with their singer of 10 years, Arnel Pineda. Fans may have been disappointed that a more complete reunion of their best-known lineup didn’t occur, but Schon remains happy to have reconnected with Perry on a personal level.
“He was tearing up. I was definitely tearing up; I had tears running down my eyes,” Schon added. “I was trying to keep my composure on the stage for that event, but it was something that was too strong.”
As for what’s next? That’s still up in the air, but Schon sounds guardedly optimistic. “We have some talking to do,” Schon said, “but I’d love to work with him on something on the side – not necessarily Journey, something more bluesy more R&B-ish, soul.”
Tune in later this month when the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony airs on HBO. The show premieres on April 29.