MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

August 24, 2013

Guitarist in OMHOF — Artist inducted at concert at The Joint

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— CATOOSA — Before Muskogee’s Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame representatives joined him on stage Friday, Journey’s lead guitarist was in a state of disbelief.

Oklahoma-born rocker Neal Schon would later in the evening be inducted into the Hall of Fame by OMHOF Board President Derek Gibson.

But during a meet-and-greet backstage at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino before the induction, Schon said he was “still kind of like pinching myself and will be until it’s actually done, I imagine.”

Schon was born at Tinker Air Force Base. His mother was a jazz singer, and his father a saxophone player for the Air Force band.

His parents inspired him to pick up a guitar and learn to play at age 10 by surrounding him with “incredible music,” Schon said.

Though he was raised mainly in California, Schon said, being inducted in to OMHOF is special to him, especially because his induction took place in a place he loves.

Schon also said he’s delighted by the “company I will keep” as an inductee in to the OMHOF.

Schon is the founding member of Journey, according to his professional website. He plays lead guitar and has written many of the most well-known Journey hits.

He was born near Oklahoma City at Tinker Air Force Base but grew up in California. His first major success came playing with Santana at age 15, thanks to his love of jazz, he said.

“I pretty much got the gig with Santana playing the electric blues,” Schon said.

In 1973, he formed Journey, which became a mega-hit maker in the 80s with such songs as “Wheel in the Sky” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Schon joins rockers such as Hinder and The All-American Rejects as OMHOF inductees.

OMHOF Executive Director Jim Blair said Schon won’t be the only inductee in 2013. The rest of the 2013 class will be announced soon.

Though the museum faced financial troubles last year, with the help of the City of Muskogee Foundation, it is back on its feet, he said.

But in order to become self-sufficient, induction ceremonies won’t be the same as the past 15 years, Blair said.

Instead, the museum is moving its induction ceremony to a bigger venue — this year to the Tulsa Mabee Center on the second night of a two-night induction event in October, which will also feature a concert by the most recent Rising Star Award honorees, Muskogee’s Swon Brothers, he said.

Schon’s independent, sold-out concert induction is the first time the museum has inducted someone outside of Muskogee.

Blair said the museum has worked to get Schon inducted for nearly two years, but his schedule, the museum’s schedule and lack of a ceremony last year, kept them from getting it done sooner.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.