NEW YORK (AP) — In the years after Steve Perry left Journey, he didn't sing for anyone — not even for himself.
No songs in the shower, humming tunes on the radio, or private concerts for family or friends. He was that burnt out, despite owning one of the most powerful voices in rock 'n' roll.
But a misstep in a relationship forced him to give an impromptu performance, albeit for one, while hiking in the mountains.
Perry recalled in a recent interview with The Associated Press that he was in the doghouse with his girlfriend and was begging for forgiveness when she gave him an ultimatum — sing for her.
"I said, 'Come on, you know I don't do that, I haven't done it in years. You know that,'" he said.
But wanting to salvage the relationship, he asked her for her request: It was "Open Arms."
"I started singing it to her. And after I was done, she said 'Okay,'" he said. "So I was taken off the hook for it."
That same girlfriend, Kellie Nash, is the reason why he released his first album almost 25 years, "Traces," which debuted in the top 10 of the Billboard Top 200 albums this week. It's a surprising return from the man whose disappearance from the music scene seemed to be one of the few lasting things in pop music. For decades, Perry refused to make music; even when Journey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Perry declined to sing with the band as they performed "Don't Stop Believin'."
But Nash, who had breast cancer, made him promise that if anything ever happened to her, he would not go further into his shell. When she died, he honored her wish. And to his surprise, Perry found his passion for music again.
"A heart is not complete until it's completely broken. And I'm telling you, my heart is completely broken and it's open again. But it's open to emotion, whether it's a rock song or a song about loss or just a break up song," the 69-year-old said. "The album has all that in it. But it's about having an open heart, I think."