Journey is among the veteran acts (Santana, The Steve Miller Band, The Doobie Brothers and Tower of Power are the others) appearing at AT&T Park this weekend. (Courtesy  Travis Shinn)

Journey is among the veteran acts (Santana, The Steve Miller Band, The Doobie Brothers and Tower of Power are the others) appearing at AT&T Park this weekend. (Courtesy Travis Shinn)

Guitar great Neal Schon journeys on

Neal Schon doesn’t like living in the past. But the Journey guitarist is hoping that San Francisco Fest 2016 on Sunday at AT & T Park — where his band will appear with Santana, Steve Miller, The Doobie Brothers and Tower of Power — will time-warp fans back three decades to Bill Graham’s sprawling Day on the Green concerts. But he has his own PRS signature guitar model, a 2014 solo album “So U” (featuring drummer Deen Castronovo on vocals) and, to replace former Journey frontman Steve Perry, an eerie soundalike whom he discovered singing in cover bands in the Philippines, Arnel Pineda, who grew up impoverished, living on dirt floors. “It’s a real Cinderella story,” he says. “And he’s no longer the new guy — he’s been with us for 10 years now.”

Any fan of Journey’s definitive “Infinity” album will agree — it’s difficult to fly into SFO at night and not punch up its flagship single “Lights” on the iPod.

I am so proud of that song. And it’s sentimental to me, because it’s about San Francisco. And I remember the day that I finished it with Perry – he was doing more of an R&B type thing with it, but I was a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix, and his rolling chords. So rather than playing “Lights” straightforward, I chose to put a “Wind Cries Mary” vibe into it. And once I did that, we put a stroll to it, and it took on a whole different personality. And it’s still one of our set’s high points. I ask everybody to get out their lighters, and the whole place lights up. And everybody sings it.

But your guitar solo in that is inimitable, your very own tone and voice.

We did “Infinity” with the infamous Roy Thomas Baker, and we did so many different things on that record that I’d never tried, or even thought about doing. I learned a lot from Roy. Like the multi-tracking, violin-styled guitar, as opposed to using synthesizers, and that was a voice for me. Roy basically took a lot of the things he was doing with Queen and brought them to Journey.

Playing devil’s advocate here, why on Earth can’t Journey and Steve Perry reconcile after all these years?

It’s not like I haven’t tried. I love Steve, I love the legacy of the music we wrote together. We wrote some timeless music. But if you look up Steve’s last interviews, he said, “There’s no way I can ever do that — that was then, this is now.” So that’s what he feels. And he has not allowed me to talk directly to him – I always have to give a letter to his attorney to send to him. So the resistance is not on my end.

IF YOU GO
San Francisco Fest 2016
with Journey, Santana, Steve Miller Band, Doobie Brothers, Tower of Power
Where: AT & T Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, S.F.
When: 3 p.m. Sept. 4
Tickets: $25 to $250
Contact: www.ticketmaster.com


Arnel PinedaInfinityJimi HendrixJourneyLightsNeal SchonPop MusicSteve Perry

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police Chief Bill Scott on Wednesday said a rebranding and reoganization of the former Gang Task Force amounts to “more than just the name change.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faced with surge in shootings, Chief Scott reenvisions SFPD’s Gang Task Force

New Community Violence Reduction Team adds officers with community-policing experience

Stores including Walgreens and Safeway are required to pay their employees additional hazard pay under a city ordinance that is currently set to expire later this month. (Shutterstock)
Grocery workers could gain additional weeks of $5 per hour hazard pay

San Francisco will vote next week on whether to extend a law… Continue reading

The fatal shooting of San Francisco resident Roger Allen by Daly City police on April 7 prompted protests in both cities. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Daly City approves body-worn and vehicle cameras for police after fatal shooting

Daly City officials on Wednesday approved body and vehicle cameras for police… Continue reading

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

Most Read