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The Big Dawg is back: American Idol’s Randy Jackson rejoins Journey as bassist

Jonathan Cain, Randy Jackson and Neal Schon (l-r) onstage in 1986 (Image credit: Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Journey recently parted with bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith, firing the two longtime members following a “coup”  in which founding electric guitar player Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain alleged the two had attempted to wrest control of the band’s trademark.

Now, Schon has revealed Valory and Smith’s replacements – and it’s a killer rhythm section, to be sure.

Stepping into the drum slot is Narada Michael Walden, the former Mahavishnu Orchestra member who has also played with ace guitarists like Jeff Beck, Allan Holdsworth and Robert Fripp.

On bass, meanwhile, is the Big Dawg himself, American Idol judge Randy Jackson.

Jackson, for his part, is returning for his second run with Journey, having replaced Valory once before to perform on the band’s 1986 album, Raised On Radio, as well as the subsequent tour.

In an Instagram post to announce Jackson’s return, guitarist Neal Schon wrote: “Ok Friends word is out! Randy Jackson RJ the Big Dawg is our new Bass player again.”

In a separate post Schon welcomed Walden to the band, writing, “The J Boyz will have a new Strut.”

The new lineup made their debut with a socially distanced performance of the classic Don’t Stop Believin’ as part of the UNICEF Won’t Stop fundraiser concert.

You can check it out above.

Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.