The Real Reason Gregg Rolie Left Journey
Rolie bowed out in 1980, three years after Perry arrived – and just before the band reached their height of fame. Rolie said it has been difficult to share the real story of his departure because the false one is so prevalent on social media.
“I left because I didn’t like my life anymore,” Rolie tells Rolling Stone in a new interview. “I’ve said this a million times and I know there’s people that say, ‘That’s not the reason.’ But I left because I was unhappy with what I was doing in my own life. I loved the management. I loved the music. I loved what we built. I just wasn’t happy, so I had to blow the horn on it and just stop it.”
He continued: “Everyone thinks it was because Perry came in and started singing all the leads. My God! Again, I was spread so thin with all these keyboards parts and singing leads, he was a welcome sight to me. And he could sing like a bird! It wasn’t too hard to figure out. I was never against it.”
Among his reasons for quitting was that he was drinking too much, and that he wanted to start a family, he explained. “And by the way, my family was my best work,” Rolie added. “It truly is. My son and daughter, my wife, it’s extraordinary. I did the right thing, but it just doesn’t play well with the guys on Facebook.”
Rolie also said that he had no problem with the fact that Journey got bigger after he moved on. “I felt very proud that I helped to build something that went to that extreme,” he reported. “I’ve always felt that way. Yeah, without me doing this, that might never have happened. But it’s not about me. It’s about all of it. It’s a misconception in this business of, ‘Who does what?’ We all did something.”
Steve Perry’s arrival heralded a new approach to songwriting for the band, and Rolie said it was a good change of direction. “There was a jam thing with it, but then it got more congruent and more about the vocals and harmonies,” Rolie recalled. “I’d never done that. I found it very appealing. As a matter of fact, to this day, I use those ideas with my own music. It’s maybe not as strong or as many harmonies and triples and all that stuff, but it’s the same attitude. I learned a lot about writing music from Journey and its … journey.”