Jeff Scott Soto Says Steve Perry’s ‘Ghost’ Made Fronting Journey Hard
Jeff Scott Soto said his stint fronting Journey was difficult because he knew classic-era singer Steve Perry was still alive – and so did the fans.
Soto stepped in at short notice in 2006 after Steve Augeri began encountering throat problems and took over for large-scale touring duties. Afterward he was announced as a permanent member of the band, but was then replaced by Arnel Pineda.
“They were in a bind,” Soto told The RobCast podcast in a recent interview (via Blabbermouth). “Steve Augeri, he needed to go home — he needed to rest his voice, and they had an entire tour booked with Def Leppard as a co-headlining bill, and sending everybody home would have cost them millions and it just have would been a big disappointment for the fans. So I only got that gig because they needed somebody to step up, and Neal [Schon] knew I could step up without a single rehearsal … and continue those shows on without even a crack in the system.”
He noted that it had been “really, really difficult to adapt." “First of all, my voice was already kind of going through its changes," he explained. "If I had gotten that Journey gig even five years earlier … I would have just killed the range, the intensity of what Perry left behind. The biggest problem … was the fact that Steve Perry was alive and well.
“It’s a totally different situation when you have like, say, Queen for instance," Soto continued. "You know there’s no chance of Freddie Mercury coming back. When Steve Perry is just sitting in his backyard sipping on some Kool-Aid, and you’re onstage trying to pull his shit off, you’ve got a lot of people … they’re gonna bag on you, because, ‘We don’t want this. We want Perry. Why doesn’t Perry come back?’ … I had to deal with a lot of that, as I’m sure Augeri had to, and even Arnel had to.”
Soto stated that in December 2006 an official press release announced he was a full-time member of Journey; however, the band hired Pineda the following December.
“There’s zero mention, there’s zero attention brought to the fact that I was even in the band and I did those tours,” Soto said, noting that the band’s website listed Augeri then Pineda, without naming him. “I was officially made a member of the band. And then for them to act like it didn't exist or to say that they wanted a signature sound and I was only supposed to be a hired gun and just to get them through the tour, that kind of bums me out."
Soto added, "Have at least enough respect to tell the truth or to even sugarcoat it and say, 'Yeah, Jeff was a permanent member of the band, but we realized, as we were going into that, that it was a decision we had to change and that's why we moved on or eventually got Arnel.' Or whatever.”
He recalled “listening to Neal doing interviews when we were doing the European tour, saying I was their new singer and that we could finally get past the ghost of Steve Perry. … I was there, and I heard all of that. And to not have that acknowledgement now, it just hurts.”