Neal Schon Admits Lynyrd Skynyrd Changed Everything For Journey

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Journey guitarist Neal Schon recently joined Lipps Service with Scott Lipps and revealed how Lynyrd Skynyrd changed Journey’s musical direction.

In November 1974, Journey recorded their self-titled debut and released it in April 1975. In late 1975, they recorded ‘Look Into The Future’ and entered the studio between May and October 1976 to record their ‘Next.’ Although it had a more commercial sound, Journey’s sales didn’t improve.

As a result, Columbia Records suggested they change their musical style and add a lead singer. They then hired Robert Fleischman and focused on a more popular style. With Fleischman, they opened for many important names, like Black Sabbath and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Later on, Fleischman departed from the band due to tensions with their manager, and Steve Perry joined as his replacement on October 10, 1977. Just ten days after Perry joined, Lynyrd Skynyrd experienced a devastating incident; a plane crash that took the lives of three of their members.

Looking back on those days, Neal Schon spoke to Scott Lipps and revealed Lynyrd Skynyrd’s importance for Journey. Schon said they opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd on various dates and started playing in front of big audiences. Before Steve Perry joined, they even got encores. So, although they were hesitant to add a new singer, things started to open up for them.

Speaking to Scott Lipps, Neal Schon said the following:

“When we met Lynyrd Skynyrd, they took us under their way, and we started playing in front of big crowds. Pre-Steve Perry, we started getting three encores in front of them because it was a guitar drum-based jam audience. Things started really opening up.

So when you go back to the interviews where Greg and I were not so sure about making this new decision of adding new lead singers because we knew that we were just on the brink of doing something big. Then, unfortunately, the catastrophe with the Skynyrd and the plane went down, and that was over. It was such a loss to everyone and everybody that loved them.”

So, Neal Schon believes that opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd and seeing them as an inspiration helped them to play in front of a big crowd. Sadly, the horrific plane crash ended up causing a catastrophe, and they couldn’t continue to perform with the band during that period.

You can listen to the podcast below.