Neal Schon

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Neal Schon
Neal Schon in July 2013.jpg
Schon in Las Vegas, December 2012
Background information
Birth nameNeal Joseph Schon
Born (1954-02-27) February 27, 1954 (age 65)
Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1968–present
Associated acts
WebsiteOfficial website

Neal Joseph Schon (born February 27, 1954)[1] is an American rock guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist, best known for his work with the bands Journey (in which he is the only constant original member) and Bad English. He was a member of the rock band Santana before forming Journey, and was also an original member of Hardline.

Schon was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame on August 23, 2013.[2] Schon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Journey on April 7, 2017.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Neal Joseph Schon was born at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, the son of Matthew and Barbara Schon,[4] his father was a big band musician, arranger, and composer, and played and taught all reed instruments with emphasis on jazz tenor saxophone; his mother was a big band singer.[5] He is of German and Italian ancestry.[6][7] Schon first picked up the guitar at "around the age of five."[4] Schon played saxophone and oboe, and by the age of 12 he was sitting in with his father’s big band, playing guitar.[8] A quick learner, he joined Santana aged 17.[4] Schon has said he was asked by Eric Clapton to join Derek and the Dominos,[4] but that he joined Santana instead, performing on the albums Santana III and Caravanserai. Schon also played in Azteca before moving on in 1973 to form Journey, a group he has continued to lead to the present day.

Schon's guitar style has been described as soulful, taking inspiration from 1960s-era soul singers such as Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, and blending it with blues runs similar to B. B. King. He was influenced by guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Wes Montgomery.

In addition to his nine solo albums and 14 studio albums with Journey, his work also includes: a pair of albums with keyboardist Jan Hammer, short-term collaborations with Sammy Hagar (HSAS and Planet Us) and Paul Rodgers, stints with Bad English (a supergroup that featured Journey's Jonathan Cain and Deen Castronovo and Cain's former Babys bandmates John Waite and Ricky Phillips) and Hardline (which also featured Castronovo). Even as Journey's latest lineup plays to a still-faithful body of fans, Schon has immersed himself in side projects such as Piranha Blues (1999) and "Black Soup Cracker", a funk outfit that features former Prince associates Rosie Gaines and Michael Bland, and more recently Soul SirkUS with Jeff Scott Soto.

Schon can be heard on other albums including three tracks on Michael Bolton's The Hunger, with the Schon sound most recognizable on "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay", he also joined Larry Graham to play in an all-star band for cult funk artist and ex-wife of Miles Davis, Betty Davis. In addition, Schon (along with then Journey manager Herbie Herbert) also contributed to Lenny White's 1977 album Big City, specifically the instrumental jam "And We Meet Again".

On February 9, 2018, Schon played a charity show at San Francisco's The Independent, benefiting North Bay Fire Relief; the group recruited featured former Journey drummer Deen Castronovo (who also sang some of the vocals), for Journey keyboardist Gregg Rolie and bassist Marco Mendoza of The Dead Daisies.[9][10]

In 2019 announced a tour to be called Neal Schon's Journey Through Time featuring Castronovo, Rolie and Mendoza for four more concert dates, with the potential for more.[11]


Schon's first guitar was an acoustic Stella, followed two years later by a Gibson ES-335; when the 335 was stolen, he replaced it with a '56 Les Paul Goldtop reissue that he used for many years.[12][13] Schon has used Gibson guitars over the years, and had a limited edition signature Les Paul model called the Neal Schon Signature Model Custom Les Paul, of which Gibson made only 35, according to the Gibson Custom website (80 according to Neal Schon's website),[12] he has previously employed Godin guitars on his 1995 solo album Beyond the Thunder, and more recently uses Paul Reed Smith guitars. In the late 1980s, Schon manufactured (through Jackson Guitars and later Larrivee) and played his own line of guitars. Simply named Schon, about 200 of the Jackson-produced models were made.[14] A white Schon guitar can be clearly seen in the music video for the Journey song "Girl Can't Help It", as well as a gold version in the Journey videos for "I'll Be Alright Without You" and "Be Good to Yourself". A Gibson Les Paul Super Custom can be seen in the video for the Journey song "Any Way You Want It". Recently he has been seen using a Seven String Ibanez Universe, which was a gift from Steve Vai as documented in the liner notes of the Hardline Double Eclipse album.[15] On the song "Lights", he uses a Fender Stratocaster later equipped with a Floyd Rose tremolo.

As of 2008, Schon currently prefers guitar pedals from Xotic, a Vox Satriani model and occasionally uses a Buddy Guy wah pedal.[16]

In a 2007 interview, Schon confirmed that he has had tinnitus for years stemming from excessive loud playing.[17] Schon's father, Matthew Schon, was a jazz musician and composer who provided the arrangements on the Journey song "Mother, Father."

Currently, Schon uses Paul Reed Smith guitars, and has two signature models with the "NS" prefix; the NS-14 and NS-15.

Personal life[edit]

On December 15, 2013, Neal Schon married Michaele Salahi at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. For this occasion, a white tent (photo) had been erected in the rotunda of the Palace.[18]

In September 2011, Schon publicly confirmed he was in a relationship with Michaele Salahi, who had previously crashed a White House state dinner, starred in Bravo's Real Housewives and abruptly left husband Tareq Salahi to take up with Schon; the two said they had also dated years previously in the 1990s and were very happy together.[19][20]

On October 14, 2012, Schon proposed to Salahi onstage during a charity concert at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Maryland, offering her an oval 11.42 carat diamond engagement ring.[21] The marriage would be Schon's fifth and Salahi's second.[22]

The couple married on December 15, 2013, in a pay-per-view ($14.95 for three hours) wedding that was broadcast live from the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California.[23] On December 1, 2015, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors agreed to a settlement that would pay Schon and Salahi $290,000 in response to a lawsuit that had accused the city-county government of improperly permitting the wedding's organizers to increase their fees after learning of the pay-per-view arrangements.[24]



  1. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Neal Schon: Artist Biography". Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  2. ^ Wofford, Jerry (October 16, 2013). "Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame inducts 7 artists". Tulsa World. Archived from the original on November 27, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-26. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ "Inductees: Journey". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d "Neal Schon Biography". (Neal Schon official site). Archived from the original on February 13, 2012. Neal Joseph Schon was born on February 27, 1954 at Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His parents, Barb and Matthew Schon, were both musicians. ... When he was still very young, his family moved to San Francisco, where Neal has lived for most of his life. Note: (see above) gives birthplace as San Mateo, California.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Journey's Neal Schon On His New Album, 'So U'". Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  7. ^ Schwartz, Missy (2007-06-13). "''Sopranos'' Journey Ends With Journey". Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Journey's Neal Schon On Reuniting With Gregg Rolie For "Neal Schon's Journey Through Time"". The Hype Magazine. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  10. ^ "Neal Schon Goes Deep Into His Past at Solo Benefit Show". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  11. ^ "Neal Schon's Journey Through Time Adds 2019 Dates".
  12. ^ a b Landers, Rick (March 29, 2005). "Neal Schon Interview". Archived from the original on August 23, 2006. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ "Gibson News & Lifestyle Landing Page". Archived from the original on 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2014-07-30. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  14. ^ "The Neal Schon Home Page -Gear : Schon". Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  15. ^ [1] Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Bowcott, Nick (2009-06-09). "The Setlist: Neal Schon of Journey". Guitar World. Archived from the original on 2009-06-12. Retrieved 2009-06-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  17. ^ [2] Archived March 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Carolyne Zinko: Wondrous wedding for Neal Schon, Michaele Holt Salahi, in: San Francisco Chronicle, December 16, 2013, last accessed on December 16, 2013.
  19. ^ The Reliable Source (2012-06-19). "What a Journey! Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon walk red carpet at Silverdocs, bail out early". Style. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  20. ^ "Michaele Salahi, Neal Schon Headed To Tampa For Journey Gig". 2012-08-27. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  21. ^ (1) Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (2012-10-15). "Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon get engaged — onstage, of course". The Reliable Source. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-05.
    (2) Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (2012-10-15). "More on Neal Schon's engagement to Michaele Salahi: On-stage proposal and 11 carat diamond". The Reliable Source. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-05.
  22. ^ The Reliable Source (2013-10-03). "Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon set a wedding date". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  23. ^ Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (2013-12-16). "Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon tie the knot — in a pay-per-view wedding". The Reliable Source. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-05.
  24. ^ (1) "Case 3:15-cv-00581-LB, United States District Court for the Northern District of California: Neal Schon, Micheale Schon, and N&M Productions, Inc., Plaintiffs, vs. City and County of San Francisco, Philip Ginsburg in his individual and official capacity, Dana Ketcham in her individual capacity, and Diane Rea in her individual capacity, Defendants" (PDF). San Francisco Examiner. 2015-02-06. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-12-13. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
    (2) Sabatini, Joshua (2015-11-10). "'City by the Bay' to settle Journey's Neal Schon lawsuit for $290K". San Francisco Examiner. Archived from the original on 2015-12-13. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
    (3) "San Francisco approves $290,000 payout for Journey wedding". AP News. Associated Press. 2015-12-01. Archived from the original on 2015-12-13. Retrieved 2015-12-13.

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