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Don't Stop Believing: The Story of Arnel Pineda and Journey
FROM THE GOLDEN GATE RHYTHM SECTION TO JOURNEY
“Faithfully”…..”Don’t Stop Believin”……”Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”…….”Any Way You Want It”….”Open Arms”……
If you were a fan of rock and roll, and you were alive from 1977 to 1984, and you were listening to music, then you recognize the titles of those songs by the band called Journey.
Journey actually formed in 1973 in San Francisco and as all bands do they struggled. Original members Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie, both former members of Santana, threw a band together and they followed a familiar progression from backup group to jazz group to pop. It was not until lead singer Steve Perry joined the group in 1977 that the group found their stride and identity.
With the release of their fourth album, Infinity, Journey reached #21 on the album charts and had two hit singles, “Lights” which reached #68 in the U.S. and “Wheel in the Sky” which reached #57 in the U.S.
Fame was theirs and they continued to ride the wave until 1984 when the group disbanded, stating that they all needed a break from touring.
To date, Journey has sold 47 million albums in the United States and over 80 million worldwide, and in many polls they are considered in the top ten of American rock bands.
FROM SAMPALOC TO STARDOM
Arnel Pineda was born in the Sampaloc area of Manila and at an early age his mother encouraged him to sing along to his favorite singers Karen Carpenter and Barbra Streisand. When he was thirteen his mother died from heart disease, and within one year of her death, Arnel left his relatives and struck out on his own.
For two years he lived on the streets of Manilla, sleeping in parks and on park benches. He survived by selling bottles and newspapers. When he was fifteen years old he became the lead singer of a Filipino group called Ijos, and for years after he sang lead vocals for groups like Intensity Five, New Age, The Rolling Bones and The Zoo. The Zoo actually recorded an album in 2007 featuring twelve original tracks, and they gained a certain amount of notoriety playing in clubs around Manilla.
Steve Perry with Journey
Arnel PIneda with Journey
More from Arnel Pineda
THE POWER OF THE SOCIAL NETWORK
The Zoo recorded several YouTube videos featuring cover songs by Journey, Survivor, Aerosmith, Air Supply and The Eagles.
Meanwhile, Journey had been struggling to re-build their reputation and had tried, unsuccessfully, three different lead singers, none of whom could come close to the soaring vocals of Steve Perry.
Then magic happened!
On June 28, 2007, Neal Schon of Journey saw one of The Zoo’s videos and was blown away by the voice of Arnel Pineda. He contacted Noel Gomez, a friend of Pineda’s, for contact information, and he sent Pineda an email asking him if he would be interested in auditioning for Journey. Pineda thought the email was a joke, but eventually he answered the email and ten minutes later he received a phone call from Schon. On August 12, 2007, Pineda flew to San Francisco and auditioned with Journey for two days, and on December 5, 2007, Pineda was announced as the lead singer of Journey.
The savior had been found.
Journey’s 2008 world tour, with Pineda as the lead singer, was hailed as a vibrant experience and received rave reviews. The tour earned Journey over $35 million and once again they were being hailed for a greatness they once thought was lost forever.
DON’T STOP BELIEVING
This writer is a sucker for happy endings. This writer is a sucker for stories of perseverance and determination.
There are seven billion people on this planet. What were the odds that a nightclub singer in Manilla would be discovered by one of the greatest rock bands of all-time AND be the catalyst of newfound fame for that band?
I wonder if Pineda believed he would find fame and fortune while sleeping on those park benches thirty years ago. I wonder if he believed then that his talent would eventually carry him from the garbage-strewn streets of a 3rd world nation to the glitter of the world stage.
I suspect, although I do not know it with any certainty, that Pineda felt as so many other musicians, painters, poets and writers feel, that he loved his craft and that love would have to be enough to carry him through the hard times. As writers we certainly understand that way of thinking, don’t we? We sit before our computers daily, churning out words, hoping to one day find the right combination of verbs and nouns, adverbs and adjectives, and gain some sort of recognition.
We write and we re-write, sending our words out into the world, never really knowing if they will be read and appreciated. Days, weeks, months and even years slowly march by, and doubt settles in, and then lingers, and all we are left with is the love of writing that has been with us from the start….and amazingly that is enough to sustain us and keep us at our task.
I think of the great writers who have come before me, working in obscurity for years….for years…in hopes that one day their words would be read by someone who would help them advance their careers.
The same can be said for the poets, the artists, the sculptors and the actors, struggling daily to perfect a craft that may not ever been seen or heard by an appreciative audience, and it is all done for the love of their art.
Hear this now, all of you…..the world needs you! Life is a struggle for many. Millions upon millions of people are just scraping by and in need of some beauty in their lives. We provide that beauty. We make this world a better place, through our words, our notes and our works of art. Wars destroy, diseases kill, economies struggle and through it all our words rise above the ugliness and soar into the hearts of those who desperately need them.
Don’t stop believing! As long as there are words inside of you, let them soar. As long as there is a message of hope and love, let those words erupt from you and feed those who need them. Do not give up on your dream. Do not wallow in self-pity, for tomorrow may be your day of resurrection.
If it can happen to Arnel Pineda it can happen to you! Don’t stop believing!
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)