Neal Schon Explains Why Journey Fired Jeff Scott Soto
Soto, who sang on Yngwie Malmsteen's first two solo albums in the mid-'80s, replaced Steve Augeri in Journey in December 2006 after Augeri began suffering throat problems on the road. (Augeri had replaced classic-era singer Steve Perry in 1998.) But Soto's appointment lasted less than a year, and, in December 2007, Journey hired Arnel Pineda, who fronts the band to this day.
When asked about his firing by Argentinian journalist Lucas Gordon, Soto said (via Blabbermouth): "The problem is I don't know. That's the problem. If I knew what the problem was, if I knew the reason why I got fired, then at least I could be at peace with it; I could find a way to discuss it or talk about it. But I'm not legally supposed to talk about it. ... It got to the point where we had to take it [to] legal side of things."
Soto added that he "signed a document that I wouldn't talk about anything negative, anything bad about them. And I don't wanna talk negative." The singer said he simply wanted an answer as to why he was let go. "If I was told why I was fired, if I was told, 'Your voice sucks,' if I was told I killed one of the guys' dogs, if I made somebody in their family angry, if I was told the reason why I was fired, I could make peace with it. But to this day, 14 years later — whatever it is — I don't know. I don't have the answers."
Schon responded to Soto's claims in a Facebook comment on the Blabbermouth article. "It was unfortunate, but Steve Augeri’s voice gave out," the guitarist wrote. "We were in the middle of [the] Def Leppard tour, so I was working with Jeff on [a] side project and suggested he come in and help [finish] the tour. It went well but all were not sold on him being the lead singer after writing a tune and listening. Both [keyboardist Jonathan Cain] and I agreed it didn’t sound right - or, better put, what we wanted. I hope this satisfies this ongoing drama. It didn’t work out."
Soto previously lamented that he was not listed as an official member of Journey in the band's website bio. "There’s zero mention, there’s zero attention brought to the fact that I was even in the band and I did those tours,” he said in 2019. “I was officially made a member of the band. And then for them to act like it didn't exist or to say that they wanted a signature sound, and I was only supposed to be a hired gun and just to get them through the tour, that kind of bums me out."