Neal Schon hails Journey stand-in Hakim

Neal Schon has praised stand-in Journey drummer Omar Hakim as an “unbelievable musician.”

The band had to bring in a last-minute replacement for Deen Castronovo after he was was arrested for assault earlier this month. They moved fast to recruit Hakim, who’s worked with Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Kate Bush, among others.

He made his debut at the Hollywood Bowl over the weekend, where they were backed by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Schon tells 98.7 The Gater: “Omar hit the ground running and then some. I can’t believe he played as well as he did, because he didn’t really know the material, and he had to count everything off for the orchestra.

“All the orchestration was written around live versions that we did of the songs that were not album versions. So I couldn’t go, ‘Just listen to the album, and that’s what it is.’ There’s all these different endings and added bits and pieces that the orchestra wrote.

“He’s one unbelievable musician – that’s all I can say.”

Journey helped raise $1.6m at the Hollywood Bowl Opening Night show for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s community programmes. It’s the highest figure achieved to date. Castronovo’s side-project Revolution Saints launched their debut album in February, while Schon released solo title Vortex this week.


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Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.