It was 45 years ago today (January 30th, 1978) that Journey released Infinity — its first album with frontman Steve Perry. The band had released three albums since its formation in 1973 by two former members of Santana — co-founding keyboardist Gregg Rolie and guitarist Neal Schon, with Rollie handling vocals for the band to middling success. After an aborted attempt with temporary frontman Robert Fleischman — later of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion — Steve Perry signed on at the urging of Journey’s then-manager Herbie Herbert.

Infinity, which also featured co-founding bassist Ross Valory, was the band’s final set to include co-founding drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who left Journey due to the new, more commercial direction the group was heading in.

Infinity was produced by Roy Thomas Baker — then best known for his work with Queen and the Cars — and went on to peak at Number 21 on the Billboard 200. The album featured such ongoing FM staples as “Wheel In The Sky” (#57), “Lights” (#68), and “Feeling That Way / Anytime.”

Steve Perry recalled to us what it was like to witness Journey onstage prior to being asked to join them: “When I was living in Los Angeles, I was looking to get a record deal, trying my very best. It was tough to get signed at those times. And I would always go to the Starwood to see Journey perform because these guys had the most amazing musical ability. I’d never seen a band like that in my life. So, every time they’d go to the Starwood club, I had to go watch with amazement. Though their musicianship was absolutely par to none (sic), there was one instrument that was flying above the entire city of Los Angeles — that was the magic fingers of Neal Schon’s guitar! (Cheering)”

During the band’s heyday, Neal Schon and Steve Perry co-wrote such Journey classics as “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Stone In Love” “Lights,” and “Any Way You Want It.” Steve Perry explained to us that Neal Schon literally had uncut gems flowing from his fingers: “It was challenging, because Neal Schon is a goldmine of potential ideas and he doesn’t know, really, which are the best or not — ’cause they’re all interesting to him. But in come my set of ears and he’d play stuff and I’d hear melodies, I’d say, ‘Wait, what was that?!’ And (he’d say) ‘Oh, I don’t know, it’s just ‘diddle-a doh’ over this with a fifth. . .’ I’d say, ‘I don’t care what you call it — what was that?’ ‘I don’t know, it’s just an idea I came up with last night.’ I’d say, ‘Well, why don’t you keep playing that for a second while I come up with a melody?'”

Journey, led by Neal Schon, is currently on the band’s 50th anniversary tour with special guests Toto. They next perform on February 4th in Allentown, Pennsylvania at PPL Center.

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