Flashback: Journey Unveil Arnel Pineda at 2008 Concert in Chile
Journey faced a very hard road back to the top after parting ways with Steve Perry in 1998. They came close to their first tour since 1986 just a couple years earlier, but Perry injured his hip during a hike in Hawaii and needed major surgery. Frustrated with the wait, they hired a soundalike named Steve Augeri (nicknamed “Steve Perry with a perm” by the fans) and toured steadily for eight years, but vocal problems and allegations of lip-syncing surfaced in 2006 and Augeri’s tenure ended. Jeff Soto stepped in for a couple of years, but he didn’t sound much like Perry and the fans never really accepted him. By the end of 2007 he was gone and Journey seemed to be headed into oblivion.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. The season finale of The Sopranos later that year kickstarted a wave of “Don’t Stop Belivin'” mania that continued in the following years when the song appeared in Rock of Ages, Glee and every karaoke bar on the planet. The public was hungry for more Journey, but they were a band with a major lead singer problem. Out of desperation they turned to YouTube and discovered Jeremey Hunsicker, the frontman of the Journey tribute band Frontiers. They flew him to California for an audition and came close to having him on the dotted line, but it ultimately collapsed. (Check out this interview for Hunsicker’s take on the situation.)
Right around this time, Journey guitarist Neal Schon went back onto YouTube and discovered a series of live videos by Filipino band the Zoo fronted by 39-year-old Arnel Pineda. They specialized in cover songs by 1970s and 1980s icons like Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Survivor, Air Supply and Kenny Loggins. But the band truly…