Neal Schon is an American rock guitarist, songwriter and vocalist best recognized for his association with the band Journey. Forming the band in 1973, after leaving the rock band Santana, Schon becomes the only member to have recorded on all of Journey's albums. In 2005, Journey was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording. Schon also played in other bands such as HSAS (1983-1984), Bad English (1988-1991), Hardline (1991) and Soul SirkUS (2003-2005) as well as formed a duo with composer Jan Hammer that resulted in two albums in early 1980s. He also has released several solo albums, including “Late Nite” (1989), “Beyond the Thunder” (1995), “Electric World” (1997), “Voice” (2001) and “I on U” (2005). “Voice” brought him a 2002 Grammy nomination in the category of Best Pop Instrumental Album.
Schon has been married five times and is the father of five children: Miles, Lizzy, Sarah, Aja and Sophia. In September 2011, he publicly approved that he had an affair with Michaele Salahi that had gone for two years. They stated that they had also dated years ago. Salahi's husband eventually filed for divorce from Salahi in September 16, 2011.
Father of 5
Childhood and Family:
Neal George Joseph Schon was born on February 27, 1954, in Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Barbara and Matthew Schon. His father was a jazz saxophonist. A child prodigy, he first learned to play the guitar when he was 5 years old, and by age 15, he had joined Carlos Santana's band Santana. He attended Aragon High School in San Mateo, but dropped out to pursue music.
At age 22, on December 29, 1976, Neal was married for the first time to Tena Austin, but they later divorced. He later married Beth Buckley on September 20, 1987. They had two children before divorcing. He married third wife Dina Gioeli in 1993, but later divorced after having one child. He then married Amber Kozan from April 29, 2001 to 2008. The marriage produced two children. In July 2011, Neal married 1986 playboy playmate Ava Fabian.
A high school drop out, Neal Schon began his music career with Carlos Santana's rock group Santana when he was 15 years old. He played guitar solo on two singles from the No. 1 hit album “Santana III” (1991) called “Everybody's Everything” and “No One To Depend On,” which reached No. 12 and No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 respectively. He quit the band, and along with fellow Santana alum keyboardist and lead singer Gregg Rolie formed Journey in San Fransisco in 1973. The same year, Schon also contributed guitar performance to the 1973 Betty Davis' self titled album, along with other noted musicians such as Sylvester, Larry Graham and The Pointer Sisters.
With a lineup that featured George Tickner on rhythm guitar, and Ross Valory on bass, Rolie on keyboards and lead vocals, Aynsley Dunbar on drums, and Schon himself on lead guitar, Journey made their debut at the Great American Music Hall and landed a recording contract with Columbia Records. The band released a self titled debut album on April 1, 1975. The album peaked at No. 138 on the Billboard 200. George Tickner had left Journey by the time the time the band released the second studio album “Look Into the Future” in January 1976. It charted at No. 100 on the Billboard 200. The foursome followed it up with “Next,” a No. 85 hit record, in February 1977 before recruiting lead vocalist Steve Perry for the album “Infinity,” which was released on January 20, 1978. The album peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard 200 and No. 24 on the Canadian Albums chart. It has since received triple platinum certification in the US and gold in Canada. “Infinity” spawned the band's first three charting hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Wheel in the Sky” (#57), “Feeling That Way” (#83) and “Lights” (#68), which was one of four songs Schon co-wrote with Perry for the album.
With new drummer Steve Smith, Journey released the fifth studio album “Evolution” on April 5, 1979. The album reached No. 20 on the Billboard 200, No. 37 on the Canadian Albums Chart and No. 100 on the UK Albums Chart. It was certified triple platinum by the RIAA. “Evolution” contained the band's first Top 20 hit, “Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin',” which peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. On March 23, 1980, Journey released “Departure,” which became their first album to make it to the Top 10 of the Billboard chart when it peaked at No. 8. The album yielded the Top 25 hit single “Any Way You Want It,” which was penned by Schon and Perry. Like the previous two albums, “Departure” also received triple platinum certification from the RIAA. Also in 1980, Journey went to Japan to record a soundtrack for the film “Dream After Dream.”
Greg Rolie quit after the release of the album “Departure” so keyboardist Jonathan Cain was brought in for the 1981 release of the seventh studio album “Escape.” Released on July 31, 1981, the album spent for a week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in September 1981 and has been certified 9x platinum by the RIAA. It charted at No. 32 on the UK Albums chart. “Escape” generated four hit Billboard Hot 100 singles: “Who's Crying Now” (#4), “Don't Stop Believin'” (#9), “Open Arms” (#2) and “Still They Ride” (#19).
Still in 1981, Schon collaborated with composer Jan Hammer for the album “Untold Passion.” The two rejoined for the next release “Here to Stay” (1982), which also featured contribution from his bandmates in Journey including songwriting and background vocals from Steve Perry. The lead single “No More Lies” featured Schon on vocals.
Journey released the eighth studio “Frontiers” on February 22, 1983. The album reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200, and No. 6 on the UK Albums chart, making it the band's most successful album in the UK. The album yielded four Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hits: “After the Fall” (#23), “Send Her My Love” (#23), “Faithfully” (#12) and “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart” (#8), which also spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. “Frontier” has been certified 6x platinum by the RIAA.
After “Frontier,” Journey decided to take some time off, and Schon continued to pursue his solo career. In 1983, he formed the band HSAS (Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve) along with Sammy lead vocalist Hangar, bassist Kenny Aaronson and drummer Michael Shrieve. They released a semi live album called “Through The Fire” in 1984. The album featured a cover of Procol Harum's “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” In 1985, Schon took part in “Hear 'n Aid,” a one off project of the heavy metal/hard rock scene of the 1980s to raise money for famine relief in Africa.
Journey returned with a new studio album, “Raised on Radio,” on May 27, 1986. By this time, bass player Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith had been fired from the band due to musical and professional differences. The two were replaced by various studio musicians for the recording of the album, including future “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson (bass guitar) and Larrie Londin (drums).
The album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and went double platinum in the United States. The album spawned popular hit singles like “Be Good to Yourself” (#9 US), “Suzanne” (#17 US), “Girl Can't Help It” (#17) and “I'll Be Alright Without You” (#14). The band went on an extended, indefinite hiatus in 1987.
Schon and Jonathan Cain spent the rest of the 1987 playing sessions for artists like Jimmy Barnes and Michael Bolton before forming the hard rock supergroup Bad English in 1988, along with
John Waite, Ricky Phillips and Deen Castronovo. The group's self titled release, “Bad English” (June 1989, Epic Records) peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard 200 and No. 74 on the UK Albums Chart. It was certified platinum in the US and gold in Canada. The album generated the No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit “When I See Your Smile” (1989), written by Dianne Warren. Also in 1989, Schon released his first solo album, “Late Nite,” with Bob Marlette as producer.
In 1991, Bad English released the sophomore effort “Backlash” before the group disbanded. Schon and drummer Deen Castronovo then formed the glam metal band Hardline with brothers Johnny Gioeli and Joey Gioeli, and bassist Todd Jensen. The band launched the first album “Double Eclipse,” which Schon also produced, on April 28, 1992. However, Schon left the band and then did several projects before finally rejoining Journey. HE released his second studio album “Beyond the Thunder” on March 30, 1995.
In 1995, the “Escape” and “Frontiers” lineup (Perry, Schon, Cain, Valory, and Smith) reunited to work for a new studio album, “Trial by Fire.” Released on October 22, 1996, the album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and went platinum in the US. The album featured the hit single “When You Love a Woman,” which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary chart. The song was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group.
On July 15, 1997, Schon released a double album called “Electric World,” which he also produced. He followed it up with “Piranha Blues” and “Neal Schon & Jan Hammer Collection: No More Lies” (both 1998).
In 1998, Journey replaced lead vocalist Steve Perry with Steve Augeri, formerly of Tyketto and Tall Stories, while Steve Smith, who left the band, was replaced by Schon's partner, Deen Castronovo. The band released their next studio album, “Arrival,” on April 3, 2001. the album peaked at No. 56 on the Billboard 200 and sold about 350,000 units in the US, becoming the band's first album that did not receive at least gold status, since 1977's “Next.” After “Arrival,” the abnd parted ways with Columbia Records, which had been the band's label since their self-titled 1975 debut.
Also in 2001, Schon released a solo album called “Voice” through Higher Octave Records. Features instrumental versions of popular songs, the album peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Top New Age album chart and was nominated for a 2002 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album. He next released “Dice With The Universe---Band: Trichromes” (2002),with Bill Kreutzman of Grateful Dead fame, and “I on U” (2005). He also released an album, “World Play” (2005), with the band Soul SirkUS, which also included singer Jeff Scott Soto, bassist Marco Mendoza, and drummer Deen Castronovo.
In 2005, Journey embarked on their 30th anniversary tour, and launched their next full length studio album, “Generations,” on August 29, 2005 through Sanctuary Records. This was the first Journey album in which all of the band members share the lead vocalist duties, with Schon singing on “In Self-Defense.” The album peaked at No. 170 on the Billboard 200. In July 2006, the band fired Steve Augeri and hired Jeff Scott Soto as their new singer in December 2006. However, Soto was dropped from the band in June 2007 and was officially replaced by Filipino vocalist Arnel Pineda in December 2007.
Journey released “Revelation” on June 3, 2008. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Independent Album Chart, No. 2 on the Billboard rock album charts, and No. 5 on the Billboard 200. The album went platinum in the US in December 2008. The power ballad “After All These Years” peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks, giving the band their first top 10 hit in twelve years.
Journey released their latest studio album, “Eclipse,” on May 24, 2011. The album reached reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200 and No. 4 on both the Billboard Independent Albums and the Billboard Rock Albums chart. The album's single, “Anything is Possible,” reached No. 21 on the Adult Contemporary chart.