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Ross Valory Finally Opens Up About Journey Split

March 18, 2024 - News

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Original bassist Ross Valory has had time to put his ugly split with Journey into perspective.

“What an amazing experience,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I am so blessed to have spent the better part of 50 years in a band that’s remarkable. All the fine players and singers that have come through the room that I had the privilege of performing with, including the current players. These are all brilliant, talented people, whether they are present in the band or not.”

Valory initially met Herbie Herbert when the future Journey mastermind was working as a manager of the Bay Area psych-rock band Frumious Bandersnatch. Herbert ended up in a similar position with Santana, where he met Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon. Rolie, Schon, Valory and fellow Frumious alum George Tickner formed the nucleus of Herbert’s new band, later dubbed Journey.

READ MORE: Ranking All 52 Journey Songs From the ’80s

Eight Journey albums followed before Valory left ahead of 1986’s Raised on Radio. Along the way, he co-wrote a number of songs, including the radio favorites “Anytime” and “Just the Same Way.” He then returned for another run of five albums beginning with 1998’s Trial By Fire.

The next split happened in 2020, when Valory and drummer Steve Smith were accused by Schon of attempting to stage of boardroom coup to take over the group. Valory denied it all, and countersued. Both sides later reached an out-of-court agreement that’s been described as amicable.

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“For me, it’s now a matter of history,” Valory said. “There was controversy and personal and business conflicts. But we worked out our differences in a relatively short time. We had a mediated settlement that everyone was happy with. And since that time, we’ve all gone our own way. The band continues to perform and do well.”

The first public fissures within the group opened in 2017 after Valory, Perry successor Arnel Pineda and Jonathan Cain visited former President Donald Trump at the White House. Schon said he wanted to keep politics – and religion – separate from their music.

“My intention there was to privately have a VIP tour of the White House, regardless of who was sitting in the Oval Office,” Valory argued. “That’s what I wanted. It was an opportunity. I wanted to see the White House and get the special tour, which I did. It was amazing. I didn’t see any of it as a political statement or an alignment, whatever.”

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The 2020 split with Journey echoed his mid-’80s departure in that Valory was once again briefly replaced by Randy Jackson, a respected bassist who later found wider fame on American Idol. Again, Valory said he holds no ill will.

“It was pretty evident that the majority of the players wanted to take a different direction, a different approach in style – and that was their prerogative,” Valory said of the Raised on Radio era. “It’s so long ago. There’s no judgment at this point. It was probably a wrong move, but it was a short move. It was one album and one tour. There were some good songs on that album, and it did keep the band’s brand alive.”

Rather than dwell on the past, Valory has his sights set on his long-awaited solo debut: All of the Above is scheduled to arrive on April 12, with guest turns by Smith and early Journey drummer Prairie Prince, members of Santana, and Eric Levy of Night Ranger fame.

Valory’s past with Journey is now firmly in the past. “What an experience, from this experimental fusion band into one of the top-rated popular bands,” he concluded. “This is a band that reinvented itself twice. But to answer your question, certainly I miss it. I miss performing, and eventually I will be doing so on my own.”

Nick DeRiso is author of the Amazon best-selling rock band bio ‘Journey: Worlds Apart,’ available now at all major booksellers’ websites.

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Singers may come, and singers most certainly may go, but some great songs remain.

Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso

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