GREGG ROLIE Says He 'Had A Blast' Reuniting With JOURNEY On Stage In Austin

February 27, 2023

During an appearance on the latest episode of Dean Delray's "Let There Be Talk" podcast, JOURNEY co-founder Gregg Rolie spoke about how he got to rejoin his former band during their February 22 concert in Austin, Texas. Rolie came up during JOURNEY's encore at Moody Center ATX to play several cuts from his time with the band: "Just The Same Way" from 1979's "Evolution" album, "Of A Lifetime" from 1975's "Journey" and "Feeling That Way" and "Anytime" from 1978's "Infinity". Rolie, who was also the original lead singer of SANTANA, and JOURNEY guitarist Neal Schon, who also played with SANTANA during the latter band's early days, then covered SANTANA's "Black Magic Woman" with help from guitarist Steve Lukather of TOTO, which is the support act on JOURNEY's 50th-anniversary tour. The JOURNEY performance ended with a rendition of "Any Way You Want It".

Regarding how his reunion with JOURNEY came about, Gregg said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Neal called me about doing this awhile back, and we just went through it over and over and over. And with the lawsuits that are going on — I mean, if you don't know about those lawsuits, you're living under a rock. I'm quoting somebody else that said that, and that's really true — it's everywhere," he added, referencing the recent legal issues between Schon and current JOURNEY keyboardist Jonathan Cain. "And they had their own problems. And that was it. And I can't be a part of that — I'm not part of the band anymore — but to go and celebrate this 50 years, which I said in the speech that I gave about it… I told Neal, 'Okay, when I get up there, I've got about a 30-second speech. That's all I wanna do. That I'm happy to be here.'

"JOURNEY is like a runaway freight train with no brakes — it just keeps going and going, with people coming in and out and in and out, and they do, and that's it. It's true," Gregg continued. "I was there for eight years, built it to that. And [Steve] Perry came in, and then Jon after that. And they carried this on to great lengths that I never thought would exist. I mean, I don't have a crystal ball; I don't know what's gonna happen.

"So, it was great to do," Rolie added. "And they arranged it really well where it actually became like an encore. And it was very cool. A lot of fun. I had a ball. I had a blast."

Asked if there was ever serious talk about him doing the entire tour, Gregg said: "We'll never know. [Laughs] I mean, I practice a lot, so for me it was kind of like 'Journey Through Time'," referencing his previous collaboration with Neal for the "Journey Through Time" concerts celebrating JOURNEY's early work. "I went over the 'Journey Through Time' stuff that I had, and I did that for a while. And then it just kind of dwindled down to other things, and that's fine. And it ended up being in Austin, and it was fine with me. As long as it happened the way it did. Honest to God, like this business is, it just kind of meanders into whatever it's gonna be. So be ready for it. So I practiced all the stuff. And then it finally came down to a certain amount of songs. And I didn't know that it was gonna be the way it was gonna be done. They had me to 'Any Way You Want It' at the end… I thought I was gonna show up somewhere in the middle. I did. I thought I was gonna show up in the middle of JOURNEY, because JOURNEY is JOURNEY now. I was just there [in the beginning]. From 1973 on, I was there for eight years. And then it's gone on 42 years after that. That's incredible.

"How many bands do you know that go through this kind of turmoil and still continue?" Gregg said. "That's what's amazing to me. It's still continuing. And JOURNEY has become JOURNEY; it's a household name. And it goes through changes all the time. It's amazing."

Rolie was JOURNEY's first singer, though his role quickly diminished when Perry arrived in 1977. Gregg left JOURNEY in 1980, just before the band achieved its commercial heights.

Back in 2019, Rolie told Rolling Stone magazine that he left JOURNEY "because I didn't like my life anymore. I've said this a million times and I know there's people that say, 'That's not the reason.' But I left because I was unhappy with what I was doing in my own life. I loved the management. I loved the music. I loved what we built. I just wasn't happy, so I had to blow the horn on it and just stop it.”"

He continued: "Everyone thinks it was because Perry came in and started singing all the leads. My God! Again, I was spread so thin with all these keyboards parts and singing leads, he was a welcome sight to me. And he could sing like a bird! It wasn't too hard to figure out. I was never against it."

Rolie went on to say that he was drinking too much and that he wanted to start a family. He also said that he was happy about the fact that JOURNEY became a household name after he moved on. "I felt very proud that I helped to build something that went to that extreme," he said. "I've always felt that way. Yeah, without me doing this, that might never have happened. But it's not about me. It's about all of it. It's a misconception in this business of, ‘Who does what?' We all did something."

JOURNEY's tour with TOTO officially kicked off on February 4 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Presented by AEG Presents, the "Freedom Tour 2023" is making stops in Austin, Montreal and Memphis before wrapping April 25 at the brand-new Acrisure Arena in Palm Springs, California.

The 2023 run includes rescheduled dates in Washington, D.C., plus Hartford, Toronto and Quebec, which were postponed last year due to the coronavirus.

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