June 3 – Perry & Sherrie Journeyed Towards Top Of Charts

Journey needed Steve Perry for his input and his voice in the ’80s, but perhaps Steve Perry didn’t need Journey so much. Or at least that might have been his reaction on this day in 1984, when his first “solo” single, “Oh Sherrie” hit #3 on Billboard.

At that point, Perry was 35 and had been the voice of Journey for seven. He’d had a taste of success without them two years prior with his duet with Kenny Loggins, “Don’t Fight It” (which came out on a Loggins album and scratched into the American top 20.) So, in the downtime after Journey put out their Frontiers album, he went into the studio in L.A. with some ideas of his own and producer Bruce Botnick (who’d famously worked with the Doors) to help out. In place of the mates in Journey, he enlisted a number of talented southern California session musicians, like Bill Cuomo on synthesizers, Michael Landau on guitars and Larrie Londin on drums. Londin was a popular player who’d worked on a number of massive country albums in the ’70s but was working with Glenn Frey approximately simultaneously and in time would work with Journey itself. He even brought in Waddy Wachtel to do the guitar solo on “Oh Sherrie.”

Perry, as well as Cuomo, Randy Goodrum (who played electric piano on it) and Craig Krampf wrote the song together. The inspiration was Steve’s then girlfriend, Sherrie Swafford. She was said to be in the room as they began tooling around with it but fell asleep before they finished! If you’re curious about what Ms. Swafford looked like, it’s easy enough to see – she was the female star with Perry in the video for the song. (Given our Turntable Table discussion this week about the importance of music videos in the ’80s, “Oh Sherrie” is an interesting case study. With its false start involving Perry dressing like a king on some sort of movie set it was either a prime example of the excesses of the art form or a spot-on satirization of that.)

Oh Sherrie” got to #3 in the U.S. and spent two weeks at #1 in Canada, as well as hitting the top 10 in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It helped push the album, Street Talk,  to double-platinum status at home for him, by far the biggest success he had outside of Journey. Speaking of which, it’s quite possible the other members weren’t totally chuffed at Perry’s success. It apparently added to a lengthy break between albums for them and made them question his commitment to the band; he ended up quitting them in 1987 after completing their Raised on Radio.


14 thoughts on “June 3 – Perry & Sherrie Journeyed Towards Top Of Charts

  1. That vid looks like he is trying to lessen all the pomposity- until he steps out of the costume with his shirt artfully unbuttoned…
    Good song, great voice, but… not one for the ages somehow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. agreed… excellent voice, seems like a nice man, good looking girl (sherrie) . Not a bad song by any means, but …not a great one either. Video… well, good ammo for those who say MTV destroyed culture.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Badfinger (Max)

    I didn’t know it did that well….I was thinking a top 20 hit…this surprises me. As you know…by this time I wasn’t a big Journey fan cough cough Jonathan $%^& Cain cough cough…but Perry has/had a hell of a voice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. yes he did, kind of sad really to hear him now, thought he tries at least. I like Journey (my sweetie LUVS them though)… this song, it was OK but didn’t really grab me a whole lot. He had the voice but I think other guys in the band like Schon perhaps had the songwriting chops

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Badfinger (Max)

        I haven’t heard him try recently…I’m sure that high voice is gone…or almost gone with aging. Lights, Lovin Touchin Squeezin, Wheel In The Sky, and the others…is what I really enjoy.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m probably in the minority here when I say I dig a good deal of Journey songs. Steve Perry was an incredible vocalist. That being said, I prefer his songs with Journey over “Oh Sherrie” – not that it’s a terrible tune. I just like songs like “Wheel in the Sky”, “Lights”, “Separate Ways” or “Who’s Crying Now” much better. Journey also had some good tunes pre-Steve Perry. It was more progressive rock than pop rock.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. One of the best voices in rock back then and Journey had a knack for really catchy rock singles for awhile. My sweetie LUVS him and Journey, I’m not nearly as big into them but I do like them and find they probably get knocked more than they deserve.

      Liked by 1 person

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