Journey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but their celebratory jam did not include longtime lead singer Steve Perry. The aloof former frontman joined Journey for the first time since the band’s 2005 Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony as they accepted the honor at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., but he then left the building when Journey’s working lineup—guitarist Neal Schon, keyboardist Jonathan Cain, bass player Ross Valory, drummer Steve Smith and current singer Arnel Pineda—took the stage to perform.
Journey’s three-song set included “Separate Ways,” “Lights,” and “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which Schon dedicated to the band’s former singer, according to Ultimate Classic Rock. While Perry didn’t participate in the performance, former Journey members Gregg Rolie and Aynsley Dunbar joined the group to perform the 1978 hit “Lights.”
Journey fans were understandably disappointed that Steve Perry skipped out on a long-awaited performance. The estranged singer hasn’t performed with Journey since a one-off event in 1991, and many people thought the ex-bandmates would reunite on stage. The Steve Perry drama unfolded up to the last minute. Just hours before the Rock Hall ceremony, TMZ reported that Perry would be singing one song with Journey, then the site posted an update that said the band’s reps “know nothing about” a reunion performance and that band’s three songs had already been blocked for the show.
Just hours before the ceremony in New York, Journey’s rep Larry Solters told TMZ point blank: “Steve Perry will NOT be performing tonight.” But a source for the Rock Hall production maintained the wild card would be if “Perry just decides to sing when he gets onstage.”
Perry decided not to, but he did have some heartfelt words for his former bandmates in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame speech, which was posted by Rolling Stone.
The singer recounted his early days scouting Journey, citing “the magic fingers of Neal Schon’s guitar,” and thanking Dunbar, Rolie, Smith, Cain, and Valory for working with him. Perry also reserved a special shout-out to current Journey singer Arnel Pineda (whom the band first discovered on YouTube), the team at Columbia Records, the original Journey road crew, and, of course, the fans, who he said have always stayed close to him.
“I’ve been gone a long time, I understand that,” the ex-Journey singer said. “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.”
In his own speech, Schon also had kind words for his former bandmate.
“Steve Perry,” the Journey guitarist said. “Thank you for reviving my art, for finding me“
While Journey fans were ultimately disappointed that Steve Perry opted not to join the band onstage, the band members were gracious. Schon later tweeted that it was great to see Steve after all these years, and he described him as “one in a million.”
And Pineda went completely fanboy. The Journey lead singer posted a photo of himself getting a hug from Perry, saying he waited 35 years to meet his hero.
Steve Perry didn’t join Journey for a performance or in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame press room, and now he has seemingly gone his separate ways from the band for good. In May, Journey is set to perform at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and the band will then hit the road for a tour this summer.
Take a look at the video below to see Journey’s reunion with Steve Perry and the band’s speeches at the Rock and Roll of Fame.
[Featured Image by Mike Coppola/Getty Images]