STEVE PERRY Oh Sherrie (1984 UK 7″ vinyl single also featuring Don’t Tell Me Why You’re Leaving, picture sleeve A4342).
Check video of the actual single for sale:
'Oh Sherrie' Quarantine Qover Tribute to Steve Perry He is the Man!!🎤 For all you audiophiles out there, what you are…
“Oh Sherrie” is a song written by American singer Steve Perry, Randy Goodrum, Craig Krampf, and Bill Cuomo. It was recorded and released on Perry’s first solo album Street Talk in 1984, which he released while still a member of Journey. The song is often regarded as an “honorary” Journey song, being credited to the band on several hit compilation albums and in other media, largely due to its resemblance to the band’s trademark sound, as well as their performances of the song on the Raised on Radio Tour, which proved to be Perry’s live swansong with the band. The song is written in F major.
The song was Perry’s biggest hit as a solo artist and written for his then-girlfriend Sherrie Swafford, who also appeared in the music video. The song hit number three on the pop chart and number one on the rock chart in the United States, partly aided in its success by a music video released to promote the song, which received heavy airplay on MTV.
Two of the song’s co-writers and supporting musicians, Bill Cuomo and Craig Krampf, earlier performed on Kim Carnes’ signature song “Bette Davis Eyes” in 1981. Cuomo, who performed the keyboard riff on “Oh Sherrie,” was the musician responsible for the keyboard riff on “Bette Davis Eyes”, and Krampf was the drummer on Bette Davis Eyes while Larrie Londin was the drummer for Oh Sherrie. Cuomo, Krampf and Perry had started composing the song at approximately midnight with little more than the simple chorus of “Oh Sherrie” and “Hold on, hold on” plus a few simple sounds. Sherrie Swafford had been in the room with them initially, but had gone to sleep because of the late hour.
The video was shot at the historic entertainment venue the Park Plaza Hotel – now called the MacArthur, located at 607 South Park View St. in Los Angeles, CA.
The video opens with what appears to be an elaborate formal Royal Wedding, complete with a bride in a large wedding dress, various Royal Court members, trumpet players, minister, and a man wearing a royal robe and a crown. As the bride approaches the altar and groom, she kneels, he takes off his crown revealing he is Steve Perry. He complains he can’t perform this scene. The director yells “cut!” and the camera pulls back to reveal this was an elaborate movie set. The scene is restarted, and again Perry announces he can’t do the scene, claiming it’s too pretentious. Stripping off his crown and costume, ignoring various people who want his attention, Perry walks over to a quiet corner. He begins singing a cappella, the first lines of the song
Well you should have been gone!
Knowing how I made you feel.
He continues two more lines, then the music starts. As he sings, below at a large entrance similar to a church or a train station, his girlfriend Sherrie walks in wearing a white skirt. He continues singing, then runs downstairs to sing to her, as she smiles and laughs. He then embraces her as the song ends. As the director calls out to Perry, imploring him to resume the video, Perry escorts Sherrie out as they exit, with his arm around her.
Chart (1984–86) Peak position
Australia (Kent Music Report) 5
Canadian RPM 50 Singles 1
Germany German Music Charts 50
South Africa (Springbok Radio) 6
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) 8
US Billboard Hot 100 3
US Billboard Top Tracks 1
US Billboard Adult Contemporary 33
Year-end chart (1984) Rank
US Top Pop Singles (Billboard) 31
This was the first single from Journey lead singer Steve Perry’s first solo album. The song is about his real-life girlfriend at the time, Sherrie Swafford, who also appeared in the video.
Perry co-wrote this with the Nashville songwriter and Randy Goodrum, along with his drummer Craig Krampf and keyboard player Bill Cuomo. In an interview with Randy Goodrum, he told the story: “I’d gotten to know him and Sherrie, not really well, but I had a general idea of what they were like as people. I sensed a certain amount of drama in their relationship, to put it mildly. I like to find a premise and go with that, rather than a hook. And as long as I know what the point of the song, or the mission of the song is, then the lyrics usually just fall into place. So I focused in on that, it was me saying, ‘Here is a relationship the way I perceive it between two people.’ And when Steve gave me a scratch tape that had him singing what I call a ‘la-la’ track, which is when the singer just sort of sings nonsense, and non-words, I listened to his vocals, and listened to some of the vowels that sounded good on high notes, and some of the ones that sounded good in the middle. That’s another little trade secret that I do when I get a scratch vocal. And I fashioned the lyrics around their relationship. And then, of course, I took it back to Steve, and showed him what I’d done. We made changes and tweaks here and there, and it ended up being the basic lyrics for ‘Oh Sherrie.'”
Goodrum told us about the song’s striking intro, where after a short instrumental passage, Perry exclaims, “You should’ve been gone,” starting his vocal with no accompaniment. “Bill Cuomo did that. The way I understand it, he sequenced that on a multi-tumbrel sequencer, plugged it into the console and recorded it. And there it was. It was programmed and used as the intro and the ending.”
Perry surrounded himself with very talented musicians and songwriters for the Street Talk album, including guitarist Waddy Wachtel and drummer Larrie Londin. Goodrum played keyboards on the album and co-wrote eight of the songs, including “Foolish Heart.” He was surprised when Perry called him to work on the album, but very pleased with the results. Said Goodrum: “I think he was a real fan of ‘Bluer Than Blue’ and ‘You Needed Me,’ and some stuff I’d done before that. That whole album was a surprise, as if you were to walk down the street and see a $20 bill blow by. I thought maybe he’d made a mistake asking me to write with him, because maybe he was thinking of Randy Goodrich or something. Why would a rocker want to write with a guy who writes the kind of songs I’ve had hits with, which were mostly poignant ballads?”
When this song took off, some fans wondered if he would return to Journey, or if the band would simply break up. Perry wasn’t the first to explore a side project: guitarist Neal Schon released albums with Jan Hammer in 1981 and 1982, and drummer Steve Smith made a jazz album in 1983. Perry wasn’t the group’s first frontman; he joined three albums in. In their original form, Journey was more of a jazzy, progressive rock outfit featuring the virtuoso talents of their seasoned pros, including Santana veterans Schon and Gregg Rolie.
Perry felt like he constantly had to prove himself within the group, but he was committed. He made this clear in an extra segment for the video of the last Street Talk single, “Foolish Heart,” where he shares some laughs with his Journey bandmates and says, “Let’s go cut a track.”
The group released the album Raised On Radio in 1986, but that tour was their last with Perry. They fractured, and when they re-formed for the 1996 album Trial By Fire, Perry couldn’t go on the road due to a hip condition. He was replace by a soundalike named Steve Augeri, and never returned to the band. Perry released a second solo album in 1994, but didn’t make another until 2018 when he returned with Traces.
The music video is a send-up of Hollywood film culture, where dumb ideas are always lurking. Directed by Jack Cole, it opens in an elaborate set with everyone dressed in costumes from the Renaissance age. Perry, who appears to be the king, halts production, declaring, “This is a love song, it has nothing to do with this.” As the crew scrambles and squabbles, Perry goes into the stairwell and starts to sing. Cameras turn to him and record the action, including the scenes where the real Sherrie appears.
Sherrie and Perry’s love did hold on for a while, but they eventually split. Long after, Perry spoke well of her, saying they were “crazy in love” and that dating a rock star was no easy task. Sherrie Swafford kept a low profile in an effort to protect her privacy. The intrepid Marc Tyler Nobleman tracked her down for his “girl in the video” series. Swafford described herself as an animal lover and yoga instructor who never married or had children.
1984 was a big year for lead singers of popular bands to release solo albums. Tommy Shaw of Styx and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac also had solo efforts.