Arnel Pineda was just a city boy, born and raised in Manila, with a dream to sing with his heroes, the rock band Journey. The forthcoming documentary, Don't Stop Believin’, tells the unlikely story of how that dream came true.
Journey was formed in San Francisco in 1973 and went on to achieve international fame with a string of hits that include the unforgettable “Wheel In The Sky,” “Any Way You Want It” and “Don't Stop Believin’.” However, after frontman Steve Perry departed in the late Nineties, the band ran out of steam despite the best efforts of a revolving door of replacements.
Cut to 2007 and Journey had hit a new low when then-frontman Steve Augeri's recurring voice problems literally stopped the band in its tracks. Down but not out, guitarist Neal Schon took to the Internet to find a new singer. His extensive Googling led him to a YouTube video of Pineda singing a Journey song with his Filipino covers band, and the rest, as they say, is history. Flights, auditions and visas were hastily arranged, and within a matter of weeks Pineda was officially installed as the band’s new singer.
Though Pineda’s skill and stage presence was undeniable, many fans questioned his ability to front such a classic all-American band. Pineda not only had to prove himself worthy of standing in Perry’s shoes vocally, he also had to overcome an undercurrent of thinly veiled racism. Fortunately his talent and determination prevailed, and thanks to Pineda, Journey found a new lease on life.
As a proud Filipino fan eloquently puts it, “When Journey found him, they inherited a nation.” Not only did Pineda win over existing Journey fans, he also introduced the band to a whole new demographic. Renewed and reenergized with Pineda at the helm, the band went on to far exceed box office and record sales expectations with their subsequent tours and album releases.
Don't Stop Believin’ therefore not only chronicles how one American dream came true, but also how talent, determination and a winning personality triumphed over geography, prejudice and stereotypes. Though most fans will go into Don't Stop Believin’ knowing it has a happy ending, that fact does not in any way detract from the experience. Indeed it merely underlines the fact that as with life, the film is all about the journey and not about the destination.
The film will open in the Bay Area in March. Watch this space for more details.