×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Journey Guitarist Demands Sole Credit for Onstage Tribute to Aretha Franklin

Writing in response to a concert review in the Tampa Bay Times, Neal Schon insists the rest of the band had nothing to do with his live salute to the Queen of Soul... or with founding the group, for that matter.

Neal Schon isn’t one to miss a chance to let the world know that he’s not entirely in synch with the rest of the members of Journey — even when they’re sharing the stage on a nightly basis. Latest example: his letter to a concert reviewer insisting that he, not the band as a whole, should get sole credit for paying tribute to Aretha Franklin in their shows. In the process, the mercurial guitarist also managed to specifically drag the group’s current management and only other remaining original member.

The latest flare-up started when Tampa Bay Times music critic Jay Cridlin gave Journey’s area arena show a positive review Monday (Aug. 20). Schon, bypassing the flattery, wasn’t pleased when Cridlin noted that Schon played an extended solo with “some honest-to-goodness heart… before ‘Wheel in the Sky,’ as the band scrolled photos of the late Aretha Franklin on screen behind him.”

In response, the critic first got two emails from Schon’s publicist, Tom George — not to be confused with the publicity firm Journey employs as a group — asking for a word change from “the band” to “he” “to make it clear it was a tribute from Neal to Aretha.”

When the writer balked at the publicist’s “odd” request, as he explained in a subsequent column, a more detailed email came in from Schon himself, again demanding sole credit for the photo of Franklin appearing on screen, while throwing shade at their management for allegedly not wanting him to get too much glory.

“The correct way to say [it is] Journey’s Neal Schon did the tribute to Aretha Franklin. That would be honest journalism of what it was and is,” the guitarist wrote to the critic. “The only ones that knew what I was planning were our lighting director and designer. I often do something new EVERY NIGHT. Nobody knows really what it will be. It is my solo section (by myself to do as I please) as Steve Smith and Jonathan Cain do every nite. It’s called improv and that’s precisely why it’s different every night.” (As Cridlin pointed out, Schon had Instagrammed himself doing an identical tribute at a previous show.)

“The audience loves it every single night,” Schon continued. “It seems that management has more of a problem than anyone as it’s me by myself and tend(s) to get tons of media press that’s not necessarily branded as a Journey brand or song. God forbid lol what’s good for me in the end is good for all.”

While he was at it, the guitarist had some other credits he wanted to arbitrate. Schon registered an objection to the reviewer referring to Ross Valory as Journey’s “founding bassist” — a seemingly uncontroversial contention, since Valory came on board in the year of Journey’s founding, in 1973, and he’s appeared on every album from the first one to the last save for one. Not that Schon was making a case for a different founding bassist; he just wants sole foundational credit. “I myself started the band with ex-manager Herbie Herbert,” Schon wrote. “Everyone else came afterwards including Ross Valory. You can’t rewrite history man. It is what it is.”

Not surprisingly, perhaps, reaction on the Tampa Bay Times’ site as well as in social media has involved a lot of use of the D-words — “douche” and “diva” — although Schon certainly has his fair share of online defenders who take his side when he takes a contentious attitude toward other past and present members or the group’s management and publicists.

Schon went on the warpath with another media outlet last week, too, tweeting, “Ultimate Classic Rock article is full of shit,” in response to a story with the headline, “Neal Schon Shoots Down Talk of Journey Reunion with Steve Perry.” The website replied, “Which story are you talking about? The only thing we’ve done on that topic was this one, which you retweeted two days ago… It was a positive story.” Schon subsequently tweeted that it was a “positive, great article” except for “miss leading (sic) headline that drives Google and that’s why they do it, to create drama.”

Last year, Schon went into battle on Twitter with members of the band who went to the White House and posed for a photo with the president — a visit presumably instigated by keyboardist Jonathan Cain, whose evangelist wife, Paula White, has acted as the president’s spiritual advisor. “I think the RRHOF has gone to everyone’s head,” he tweeted. “Not me.” He soon tweeted a chart, borrowed from Wikipedia, of how long every member had spent in Journey, and specifically took on current singer Arnel Pineda, leading Pineda to tweet, “Just so you know, I have no problem being an #expendable #entity. nothings #permanent in this world.” The oddest thing was that these exchanges were happening while the band was on tour, which seemed then, as now, to be no obstacle to taking things public.

This past February, as the band announced a joint headlining tour with Def Leppard, Rolling Stone asked Cain, “Is it hard to be on the road with someone that’s bashing you on Twitter day after day?” “It’s something that you tolerate,” the keyboardist answered. “Everybody has to vent.” Of the White House brouhaha, Cain said, “Don’t go to the fans about it. If you had a problem with it, talk to me. I never heard from him.'”

More Music

  • john legend christmas collaboration 1-800-flowers

    John Legend Sets Holiday Partnership With 1-800-Flowers

    Just call it a legendary Christmas collaboration. John Legend is teaming up with 1800flowers.com this season to deliver free copies of his new album, “A Legendary Christmas.” From now until Dec. 22, any bouquet ordered from the site’s exclusive “Legendary Christmas Collection” will include a free digital download of the album. Think of it as [...]

  • A Female Perspective on Music Production

    A Female Perspective on Music Production: 'Change Takes Time,' Says Ex-Matrix Member

    With Linda Perry’s Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year, it’s the first time in 14 years that a woman has been represented in the category. Perry is preceded by Lauren Christy, formerly of the production trio The Matrix, who has written for Avril Lavigne (“Complicated,” “Sk8er Boi”), and Enrique Iglesias (Tonight I’m Loving You”), [...]

  • Justin Timberlake Super Bowl

    Justin Timberlake Reveals Rescheduled 'Man of the Woods' Tour Dates

    After postponing six December concerts due to bruised vocal cords, Justin Timberlake has announced the rescheduled dates for his “Man of the Woods Tour,” all of which will now take place in 2019. Timberlake had been pushing back dates since late October due to bruised vocal cords, and the singer’s rebooted tour begins Jan. 4 [...]

  • Yoshiki Buys Studio City Mansion

    Yoshiki Picks Secluded Spread Near Studio City (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mononymic Japanese rock star and record producer Yoshiki, an accomplished classical composer best known as the co-founder and drummer of the speed metal band X Japan — they sold out Madison Square Garden in 2014, has expanded his SoCal real estate holdings with the almost $3.4 million purchase of a secluded 1.6-acre spread in the [...]

  • Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary,

    Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary, 'Hugo Cabret' Musical

    Producers Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page have unveiled Ley Line Entertainment with a Brian Wilson documentary and a “Hugo Cabret” musical in the works. Ley Line said it’s a content development, production, and financing company with projects spanning film, television, stage, and music. Headington financed and produced “The Young Victoria,” “Argo,” “Hugo,” and “World [...]

  • BTS' ‘Burn the Stage’ Claims Biggest

    BTS' 'Burn the Stage' Movie Claims Biggest-Ever Event Cinema Box Office Haul

    BTS concert movie has now garnered the biggest-ever box office haul for an event cinema release. “Burn the Stage: The Movie” has raked in $18.5 million around the world, distributor Trafalgar Releasing told Variety. The film follows Korean boy-band sensations BTS on their Wings tour, which was seen by more than 500,000 fans. The movie [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content