IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL
album, 1983’s “Frontiers,” featuring the hits “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” and the prom slow-dance smash “Faithfully.” It was the latter that prompted Prince’s management to call in Cain, the song’s writer, to listen to one of Prince’s proposed new tracks.
“Hewasconcernedthat‘purple Rain’ was too much like ‘Faithfully,’” recalls Cain, who never actually met the Purple One in person. “I heard some similarities in the first bar and then the guitar solo. They put Prince on the phone, and he said, ‘Do I need to change anything?’ I said, ‘No. You don’t have to worry about us (suing for copyright infringement). It’s the same chords, but so what? Everybody gets inspired from somebody, and I’m flattered that you care that much to call.’ It shows what kind of caring guy he was. And then I got tickets to his show. I was way up front, and he threw a tambourine, and I caught it. Still have that tambourine.”
More than 30 years later, Cain and Journey are still in it for the long haul. Having outlasted most of their contemporaries, the band remains enduringly popular, packing arenas around the world. The group’s annual summer tour, a teaming with fellow Northern California rock veterans the Doobie Brothers called “San Francisco Fest 2016” (with Traffic guitarist and singer-songwriter Dave Mason opening), stops Wednesday at Fedexforum.
Previously a member of the John Waitefronted group The Babys, Cain joined Journey in 1980 when the band was already a half-dozen records into its career. Substituting synthesizers for the Hammond B3 organ of predecessor Gregg Rollie, he helped update Journey’s sound, and his compositions like “Don’t Stop Believin’” helped make his debut with the band, 1981’s “Escape,” their first No. 1 album. Though savaged by critics at the time — Dave Marsh called “Escape” one of the worst No. 1 records of all time — the band racked up hit after hit in the ’80s until lead singer Steve Perry’s health problems forced it into hiatus in 1987.
Journey resumed eight years later, and despite personnel changes, has kept going strong ever since, buoyed by a string of unpredictable events that kept the group in the public eye. First, Perry bowed out of the group again. He was replaced by Steve Augeri. But when health problems sidelined Augeri in 2006, the remaining members turned to Youtube, of all places, to find his unlikely replacement. There they discovered Filipino powerhouse Arnel Pineda, whose rags-to-stardom story has inspired millions and given Journey a whole new international fan base.
About the same time, “Don’t Stop Believin’” was famously featured in the finale of the HBO series “The Sopranos,” giving the song a new commercial life. It has been featured since in the TV show “Glee” and the stage show and movie “Rock of Ages,” and has become a staple of show choirs and sporting events around the world.
“We’ve got like three generations of people at our shows now,” says Cain, somewhat incredulous. “It’s really a blessing and an honor. I kind of sensed something was going on when we made all that music in the ’80s just because of the sales and the amount of acceptance we received. You don’t sell 250,000
WITH DAVE MASON
7 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at Fedexforum. Tickets: $49.50-$89.50, available through Ticketmaster.