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 our 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.
Kris from Destin, FlActually if you listen to the lyrics carefully, instead of the script "Now I know just why you stay" that was to portrait a happy ending is changed by Perry to "Now I know you'l lie you'l stay" . Take a listen...
Ghostgetter from Dallas, TxAnd by the way Kid May have not been telling us everything because he also said this is why Perry says in the song after all your worth the steal when he doesn't say that. It says after all your words of steel.
Ghostgetter from Dallas, TxI don't know if anyone knows Who Kidd Kradick is and his national morning show but he is a well known radio host. I had listened to him one day say during Steve Perry's birthday a few years ago that during the 80s Kid took a first date of this hot chick to a Journey concert and went to meet Journey back stage well to make a long story short, Kid went home alone and she ran off with Steve Perry. The Girls name was Sherry and Kraddick ended the story by saying Happy Birthday Butthead thanks alot. lol
Pamela from Lewiston, MeI love Steve Perry's voice...I too wish he'd come back. I was fortunate to see Journey in concert with him doing what makes us all happy. I'll never forget his stage presence that his voice commands...He gave me a memeory that they cant put a dollar sign on...I am grateful for that...I'll never forget what I saw and mostly what I heard...Thanks Steve
Brian from Cincinnati, OhSteve, please come back.look how many fans love you.they have loved you then and they will love you now. I pray that you will come back.I have, without a dount one of the greatest voices of all time. come on people are going to extremes to get you to sing again,they have a petition for crist sake. I beg with all my heart that you will return to the spotlight. PLEASE,PLEASE COME BACK
Douglas from Cincinnati, OhThere were other lead singers from bands with solo albums in 1984; Dennis DeYoung(Styx), Christine McVie(Fleetwood Mac)... D. Davis, Cincinnati, OH
Trublgrl from Ny, NyThis is a silly memory, but for some reason, all my griends and I were convinced "Sherrie" was actually "Shari Bellafonte", daughter of Harry Belafonte, who was on "Hotel" at the time, I think. She IS beautiful, but, our ears should have told us that was silliness!
Jones from San Antonio, TxSteve Perry's voice is amazing! Once I heard this song,I was DANCING!!!
Connie from Greenwood, WiI love this song, takes me back to high school days. My youngest son listens to the 80's music. For which he's 19. I love the way Steve Perry looked in his videos. Connie, Greenwood, WI
Kate from Austin , TxThis is such a beautiful and romantic song. I LOVE it!! I never get tired of seeing how he stands on the stairs and serenades her in the video. Excellent!!
Audrey from Stanford, KyI have been a fan of Journey and Steve Perry since I was 18. I love the bands music also Steve Perry's solo albums to. there has never in my book been another voice to compare to his voice...it brings me alot of joy to listen to him....I wish that he would come out with some new music, and tour...I never had the oppt. to ever see him in concert. and that would be a dream come true to see him and hear that voice
Jacque from Coarsegold, Ca, CaIf Steve Perry ever did a one night comeback, I'm the one that would want to have the privledge to hear "the voice" Journey still isn't the same without him. Just traveled to see Journey - 10/2008.
One of your biggest fans- Jacque
Patricia C. from Port Deposit , Maryland, Mdfirst let me say - steve please don't keep us waiting any longer. we need to hear that voice once more,send us your love. we will be waiting for you with (open arms). with a voice like yours only you can make journey, and your fans come back to life. when you left so did we.now its time to come back to us faithfully ... you are what we need to fill that empty space in our hearts. if john lennon can give peace a chance then could you please give journey a chance. we love you steve. after all your voice can not be replaced no matter how hard they try. it's just not you, or journey. without you... we are lost. so what can i say except ... i love you and miss you. patricia.......
Ryan from Eaton, InFor all the people saying Journey can't/shouldn't continue without Steve Perry, remember: he's the one that left -- twice. You can't really blame them for moving on after the former lead singer made it quite clear that he had no interest in being part of a band anymore.
Mary from Shreveport, LaI love Steve Perry's Voice. He CANNOT be replaced no matter how much this new guy sounds like him, he is NOT Steve Perry. No one can replace him. He has the most unique voice and no one can surpass him in greatness
Sally from Pontefract, United KingdomWell i was a fan of Journey`s from the start and up until Steve Perry left. I followed Steves solo stuff after that butfeel lost without him still dashing about on stage or putting out some of those beautiful ballads that only he could sing.
How dare Journey get a new singer and allow him to sing Steve`s songs...there`s really NO comparison..`The Voice` is the only one who can make you smile, laugh and cry all in the same few moments. His voice stirs happy and sad memories and no other singer has done that for me. Steve if you`re there, ive tried to contact you but the messages never seem to get to you so maybe this will. Just need to let you know what you mean to this aging rocker..haha.
Sarah from Akron, WvSteve Perry you probably dont even read these......But if i could have a wish from make a wish foundation it would be just to meet you.... My manager is jealous of you...because i love you...sarah
Shannon from Bakersfield, CaMy mom knew sherrie swatford! I
Aaron from Boston, Masteve, you have one of the best voices ever. i <3 journey
Sherri from Waco, Txhi my name is sherri and I absolutely looove this song I grew up in the eighties and a local radio station plays a retro mix of saturday night 80's music while it is not the same it is still cool to listen to. this song is my anthem i feel like steve is singing just for me and i have always been a fan of journey but steve is journey so i am choosing not to listen at this time come back steve! anyhow, fellow 80's lovers out there email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teri from Ca., CaI heard a live interview Steve Perry did, I believe it was the "Street Talk" interview. The story for this song goes something like this: The lyrics for this song came about when Steve and his writing partner Randy Goodrum were brainstorming trying to come up with something for a new song. It was late at night, and Sherrie Swafford kept coming in telling Steve to get to bed. He would tell her "Sherrie, hold on, hold on". After a while of saying this, something clicked and they decided to make a song out of his "sherrie, hold on". The lyrics for the song just flowed after that.
Rockdawg from Eugene, OrContrary to popular belief, Sherrie Swafford and Steve Perry had not broken up when this video was shot in 1984. They separated quite awhile later. (I believe it was a least a year later.) The break-up along with the death of his mother were contributing factors in his leaving Journey in 1987 when the Raised On Radio tour ended.
Michelle Harris from Littleton, CoI also cant get past the fact that if they had married, she would be Sherrie Perry. Does any one know Sherrie's last name?
Danci from Treetown, OkThe opening to this song was used as one of the "Psyche Outs" in the movie Baseketball. Oh yes, and I absolutely love this song.
Michelle Harris from Littleton, CoI can tell you that I am most-likely the most jealous girl in the world when I see the "Oh Sherrie" music video. Well, at least he goes for blondes, eh? Good to know.
Stephanie Miller from Easton, Pasteve you are so hot!!!!!god i wish you were mine!!just remember your fans are herre for you
Patricia from Burlington, CanadaReally good song from a great voice. I recently bought the DVD Journey's greatist Hits, It is so good to see Steve Perry sing and strut his stuff.
Cheryl from Richmond, VaI've heard that eventhough their relationship failed, Steve gave all of the rights and royalties to this song to Sherrie. The gift "that keeps on giving", I'd say. Very classy Steve.
Georgina from Laredo, TxNo matter how many lead singer Journey changes no one will never have steve perry wonderful singing voices
Jennifer from Pascagoula, MsSteve Perry has a good singing voice.I wish he would come back to Journey.His songs mean alot to me.I miss him alot.I would love to meet Steve Perry and the rest of the group.I also would like to see them in concert.
Pete from Nowra, Australiaone hit wonder here in Australai ..great voice, remember seeing and hearing him on the We are The world Video
Vanessa from Grand Blanc, MiI agree...I would love for him to sing to me like that. Steve has such passion when he sings that song. That is why I love it. When a singer has heart like that. Not just a band singing about a break-up that never happened. It happened and was real with him. You can feel it when he sings.
Amanda from Islip, NyIf I recall correctly (from VH1's "Pop-Up Video), Steve and Sherrie had already broken up by the taping of "Oh Sherrie," yet she starred in it anyways
Patricia from Port Deposit, Mdfirst let me say that i love steve perry. now here is a guy with one heck of a voice. i do feel that he has been out of the lime light to long now and needs to start making more tv appearances, and more cd"s his voice is to die for. i wish i new steve perry and my name was sherrie i would have him sing to me all the time. the other guy who is the lead singer for journey is not steve perry.. that right there says it all... come on steve perry lets get busy your fans are waiting.. love you, patricia. one of those fans
Keith from Slc, UtIf she had married him, she would have been Sherrie Perry.
The music video was one of (if not the) first to spoof overproduced music videos.
Sarah from Guess, CanadaAs a crazy Fleetwood Mac fan I must insist...It's spelt LindsEy Buckingham!