What Steve Perry Worries Will Happen If He Starts Performing Again

After Journey's mixed comeback album Trial By Fire — their first album in a decade – Steve Perry disappeared due to the need for hip replacement surgery. Then, he largely stayed disappeared, sporadically appearing on album productions of other artists. "I stopped to get away from it all," he explained to Jessica Radloff for Glamour in 2013. "We were kinda big when I stopped. I was fortunate to have had an amazing career. I just didn't want to do it anymore. My mother had passed away the year before and family stuff was going on, and I just didn't want to miss life."

The emphasis he placed on "stop" was due to Radloff's point that Stevie Wonder still rocked in his old age. When Perry insisted that he doesn't sing his own songs because they're  too high, it comes across as disingenuous. To a fan's breath-held delight, however, he also hinted at the possibility of a comeback. Asked about his voice, he replied, "It's out of shape! [Laughs] I haven't sang much. That's the problem. But I'm starting to warm it up." 

Next year, Perry was back on stage. "Listen, I've done the 20-year hermit thing, and it's overrated," The Holywood Reporter quotes him telling a crowd at an Eel's concert. He proceeded to sing the encore.  In 2018, he released his first album in 20 years: Traces. The album received rave reviews: "Traces is a near flawless return for Steve Perry,"  wrote Cryptic Rock.

"October in New York"

In May 2011, Perry sat in an editing room with Patty Jenkins, director of the films Monster and Wonder Woman, as she finished the last touches of her contribution to Five, Lifetime's anthology series about how breast cancer has impacted people's lives. Perry later wrote about this moment in a rare blog post on his Fan Asylum page: "As the opening scenes camera panned across an outside hospital patio, a narrator's voice commented on their lives and their types of cancer. The camera came across this girl sitting there laughing. ... I saw her smile." He asked Jenkins who she was. She was Kellie Nash, a PhD psychologist afflicted with breast cancer that had reached stage 4 and spread to her bones and lungs.

Perry asked Jenkins to put them in touch. She did, and Nash and Perry hit it off immediately: "I never felt like this before. .... I had finally found her." Their time together was short. She died December 14, 2012. 

In a Rolling Stone interview to promote Traces, he explains that at one point, Nash asked him to make a promise: "She said, 'If something ever happens to me, I want you to make one promise ... Promise me you won't go back into isolation. If you do, I fear this would all be for naught.'" He honored her request and poured his years into the album, including a song about their last weeks together: "October in New York."