Journey’s Steve Perry Makes Surprise Cameo On ‘American Idol’

The former frontman gave Gaby Barrett the surprise of her life when he critiqued her performance of one of Journey's greatest songs.

American Idol Finale
Eric McCandless / ABC

The former frontman gave Gaby Barrett the surprise of her life when he critiqued her performance of one of Journey's greatest songs.

Steve Perry, the Journey lead singer behind some of the band’s biggest hits, left the spotlight years ago. But Perry made a surprise cameo on American Idol, proving once and for all that one should never stop believing.

The former Journey frontman, who recorded some of the band’s greatest songs in the classic lineup’s 1970s and ’80s heyday, turned up in the Idol audience as Top 3 finalist Gaby Barrett performed the song, “Don’t Stop Believin’.” The 1981 Journey classic was one of three tracks Barrett sang on the American Idol finale, but the young singer got the shock of her life when she found out Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan weren’t the only stars judging her performance.

After Gaby’s performance, Steve Perry emerged from his hiding spot in the studio audience to tell her how much he admired her and her performance of his famous song.

“It was the most amazing version I’ve ever heard. Swear it. Beautiful, just beautiful. Thank you so much. And I got to meet your parents too – they love you. They love you!… And I love you!”

You can see Gaby Barrett’s performance of “Don’t Stop Believin'” and Steve Perry’s sweet reaction to it below.

Steve Perry was the lead singer for Journey during the height of the band’s popularity and was the voice behind the radio-friendly 1980s hits “Wheel in the Sky,” “Open Arms,” and “Faithfully.” Steve’s last tour with the band was in 1986 after the release of the album Raised On the Radio, and he later became estranged from the band after his departure from the group.

In 2017, Perry reunited on stage with Journey for the band’s long overdue Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, but he did not perform with them. One year later, fans were thrilled to see Steve in the American Idol audience as an up-and-coming singer performed “Don’t Stop Believin’,” one of his greatest songs.

Incidentally, “Don’t Stop Believin'” was featured earlier in the weekend in another unlikely place: A Saturday Night Live sketch. The song was played during the cold opening of the season finale of SNL as Alec Baldwin’s President Donald Trump met up with Rudi Guiliani (Kate McKinnon) and Michael Cohen (Ben Stiller) in at a New Jersey diner in a spoof of the iconic final scene from The Sopranos.

Even Journey’s Neal Schon gave the song’s SNL cameo a shout-out on Twitter.