So, Who is Herbie Herbert?

Sy Klopps

The Artist known as Sy Klopps started out as a fictional “recluse prodigy” musician. It was all just a trick played on booking agents by Herbie Herbert, the successful rock and roll “Personal Manager”. It was during the relationship building part of phone conversations with fellow music business people, where poking fun and gaming was always expected, that the legend of Sy Klopps was born.

Ironically, Herbie decided to become Sy Klopps. Actually bring Klopps to life. The real legend of Sy Klopps started when all Herbie’s connections with famous musician friends to jam, gig and record with made it doable and even more importantly, fun.

Herbie retired from managment at the tail end of 1993 and jumped headlong into Sy Klopps. It became his passion. He built his own state of the art commercially competitive recording studio and recorded his first album, “Walter Ego”. “Walter Ego” was released in 1993 on Guitar Recordings Classic Cuts label. Gigs around the Bay Area and eventually at the Fillmore in San Francisco soon followed.

via Sy Klopps.

Walter James “Herbie” Herbert II (born 5 February 1948) is the former manager of rock band Journey, The Storm, and a vocalist for the Sy Klopps Blues Band. Born and raised in Berkeley, Herbert is a self-proclaimed hippie and fan of the Grateful Dead.

Herbert got his start in the music business with the aide of his mentor Bill Graham. Through Graham, Herbert became a roadie for the multi-platinum-selling band Santana (where he met Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie). He managed Frumious Bandersnatch (where he met Ross Valory and George Tickner). When Santana imploded in 1973, Herbert put together the original lineup of Journey and remained its manager through 1993. Herbert was heavily involved in all business aspects of the band and traveled as their road manager. With a sharp business sense, Herbert brought everything in house under the name of Nightmare Productions and pioneered the use of large screen videos, impressive lighting and sound for arena-sized concerts. A shrewd businessman, Herbert made a fortune with Journey’s real estate holdings, Nocturne video company, and catalog management. He and Jim Welch his art director, devised a creative marketing plan to promote the band using the Grateful Dead’s artists, Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelly, thematic one-worded album titles, and exposure at point of purchase outlets.

In 1993 Steve Perry asked that he resign from managing Journey due to personality conflicts. After his resignation, Herbert brought Swedish rock groups Roxette and Europe to the United States in the mid to late-1980s, as well as manage the career of Mr. Big, another Bay Area rock band of the late-1980s and early 1990s, along with R&B artist Tara Kemp. Since then, Herbert has moved from backstage into the spotlight, recording three albums as Sy Klopps and touring the San Francisco Bay Area with the Sy Klopps Band, which includes Journey band members Neal Schon, Gregg Rolie, Prairie Prince, and Ross Valory.

Herbert continues to share animosity towards Journey members Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain to this day. While Herbert can be credited with much of the success of Journey, he has been criticized for the band’s relentless tour schedule, resulting in the Perry’s burnout and subsequent falling out with the band.

via Walter Herbert – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Herbie Herbert is one of the music industries most colorful characters. For a period of time he was the #1 manager in the business, taking Journey – a band he put together with Neal Schon – to become a multi-Platinum selling stadium act.

And in taking the band to the stadiums, he also helped pioneer the way we watch bands in such settings. The video screens and high-tech productions that dominate tours today were developed by Herbie and the company he and Neal remain partners in – Nocturne – who are today behind tours by U2, Madonna, Metallica, Def Leppard and of course, Journey.

Herbie also broke Swedish hard rock act Europe in America, not to mention taking Mr. Big, Roxette and Steve Miller Band to more Platinum sales and sold out worldwide tours.

He is vocal in his opinions and calls it like he sees it, which doesn’t always please some folks on the receiving end.

But few people have been in the position Herbie was in and when the chance to interview an industry legend presents itself you don’t turn that down.

I have long followed the business side of the music industry, so Herbie’s insights were something I was looking forward to hearing and he doesn’t disappoint.

I do think this is a different interview than the infamous 2001 interview which was viewed by some as caustic in nature. And I’m pleased about that – but Herbie still has a number of things to say about the band he spent 20 years of his life guiding, some of which you may agree with, some of which you may not agree with.

via Interviews: Herbie Herbert – March 2008 Interview.

Interview by Matthew Carty 2001> Click Here


9 Responses

  1. Please call Jonathan and Neal and Ross Valory and Dean C and the singer P know my 2nd father and fiancée passed away awhile ago we were going to have Journey sing at our wedding but Mario Jr Died. The band know my 2nd father and I told us any time any place any where we wanted to see a show it was no probably they would take good care of us any show cause we take good care of them. Mario Sr and I. Say hi and please get back to us Jonathan and Neal told me last time in the helicopter . The Show is in St Paul Mn at the State Fair on Mon please call me you guys were going to sing our wedding song. God Bless please call me asap We are with the Rainbow Roxy and Whiskey Thank You Mary DeNiro 612 -867-2979

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  4. Read all the interviews several times-then read every one I could find by Perry. In short, Herbert may have been a brilliant businessman, but to call himself a ‘hippie’? Those days were about peace, love, and forgiveness-and this man displays an unending vitriol and downright viciousness that belies any such title. Interspersed with his endless bragging about himself, verging on narcissism, are his rants about Steve Perry. And they make no logical sense. He contradicts himself at every turn-and at times verges on seeming paranoia about Perry-like believing he ‘made up’ the hip replacement surgery? Will say in one breath that fans better realize that Perry can’t sing anymore (in 1991), then will mention the Trial by Fire Album where Perry’s voice earned them a Grammy nomination. Will complain that Perry’s pushing for certain business decisions cost everyone millions-then will say that Perry has the first nickel he ever made and is wealthy. WIll say that Perry tried to run everything-but then will confess that Schon and Valory had drug/alcohol problems-which would say to me that it is good Perry DID creatively step up to the plate because they were in no shape to lead. Will mock Perry’s being unwilling to tour after 1986-but then will talk about how touring burns out a singer’s voice-and discusses him like he was just meat to be discarded. Is clearly fixated on Schon, almost to in a way that creeps one out. One wonders whether his dislike for Perry wasn’t because without Perry, Schon’s albums, while creatively brilliant, were selling less with each one being released. Something is wrong when a man, 15 years after a band is over, with no contact with someone, can’t stop trashing someone over and over. Yet I never read anything but measured, dignified comments made by Perry in public about him or the others-other than mildly expressed hurt that they wouldn’t wait for him to resolve the health issue. Perry even put a public apology song on his FLOSM CD, ‘Anyway’ that was raw and openly emotional. He sought THEM out to reunite after the Trial By Fire-yet Herbert is undeniably, brutally nasty about the man-the man who was the reason that he made millions-cause he wasn’t making millions off the original 3 Journey albums that sold under 150,000 records apiece! Considering that Azoff created the Eagles comeback, one can see why Perry would have wanted him in the mid-1990’s. Herbert seems to think that the fact that Perry wasn’t drunk every night, or didn’t use drugs like Valory, (Herbert’s allegation in print, not mine!), and that he used good business sense unlike the others, and that he didn’t have 3 divorces like Schon-he almost talks as if that is to Perry’s detriment-not something to be complimented! He says he ‘barely had a high school diploma’-no, Perry had 2 years of college. He even tried to say he was a druggie-but you can’ t make that stick, because Perry was notoriously protective of his voice and eschewed practices that would hurt his vocal capability. And ya, know, if Perry’s voice isn’t as high as it used to be-this man actually saying that he was LAZY because he didn’t want to tour every year-well-Herbert would bear a great part of the blame for forcing him to overuse that voice. In short, I give Herbert cred for his innovative marketing techniques. I pity him as a wannabe band member who seems to resent Perry because Perry has a songwriting talent, a lasting affection of diehard fans, and a voice that obviously Herbert didn’t have. And with public vitriol like he displays, and clear resentment of Schon towards having needed Perry to be successful commercially-and needing a sound alike clone to continue to have any commercial success-well, one can see where in the VH1 interview in 2000 that Perry could say he felt he was never part of the band in a real sense. They were forced to take him, they didn’t have any commercial success without him, and while they were ruining their finances, marriages, and health with substance abuse, he was taking the lead creatively and building a secure future-and their immaturity and jealousy is displayed every time they open their mouths. Sad, because Schon is a real talent!

    • A lot of good points. I tend to generally have positive feelings for Steve Perry. His vocal talent is magnificent, and he honed his natural abilities to become one of the greatest studio and stage singer/performers in the world. Lots of singers have range and strength, but Steve Perry has that spark, that special quality that a handful of gifted individuals are blessed with. And, he got that equally rare gift of a culmination of circumstances (and a good dash of luck) that allowed him to share his rockin’ pipes with many millions of fans around the planet.

      As a drummer, I can’t quite get my head around the firing of Steve Smith. I believe it’s fairly well documented that Steve Perry was a major factor in the extrication of Steve Smith from the band. Herbie seems like a sweaty wanna be, but one with enough ego, smarts and well placed grit and hustle to have created some fantastic opportunities and fortunes for a lot of people. It seems that he eventually pushed too much though(?)

      But replacing Steve ‘Don’t Stop Believin,’ and ‘Separate Ways’) Smith, with Mike Baird, who’s great, but he’s no Steve Smith. You read that all of a sudden Smith’s “feel” wasn’t happening for the new album. And, you read Perry, Schon and Cain didn’t want to continue the royalty arrangement, so sidemen were hired (the Baird/Jackson aka Raised on Radio Tour).

      Who knows what happened during those later years, when band member’s ego’s and priorities and life issues all built up and broke the band apart. I’ve read and re-read a lot of interviews as you have, and I think Steve Perry gets some unfair press to say the least. But some of his decisions, and the limited knowledge I have regarding them of course, leave me with more than a few questions. So, what’s the topic again. Who the hell is Herbie Herbert? Who the hell knows? Except I bet some Santana, Steve Miller and Journey band members know.

      • steve smith I don’t think so. They already had him Anysley Dunbar. Zepp wanted him, I don’t think Zeppelin inquired about steve smith

      • The one difference between Herbie and Steve Perry, is that Steve Perry apologizes for his mistakes, and a few years ago he publicly apologized for firing Smith, admitting it was a mistake, but that it had nothing to do with his talent. Smith and Perry have always remained close friends, and I even read where Smith said he wouldn’t return to Journey unless Perry was there, though I’ve heard he may be on their next tour. I guess he changed his mind…which he’s more than entitled to do. 🙂

    • I know this was written in 2009, but I have to totally agree with Leah! Herbie was the one who hired Steve on in the first place, for goodness sakes! He said himself, that the group needed a frontman if they ever wanted to be heard on the radio, nationwide, and that was going to be Steve. No one else was thrilled with the idea, until the money started rolling in. Then, when Steve gets injured, he can’t rejoin the group when THEY wanted him to, so that’s when the crap hit the fan, so to speak. He splits, they go on tour without him, and eventually hire a sound-alike they found on YouTube from the Philipines!! Go figure! Lawsuits started flying, bad press releases, you name it. It was ridiculous. Incidentally, I never did find out who won, if the cases were dismissed, paid off, nothing. Whatever. Doesn’t matter now. Water under the bridge. Kind of reminds me of one of Neal’s 4 bad marriages. Apparently, he can’t seem to hold onto a woman, at least, not for long. Neither can Jonathan Cain. I think he’s working on wife #3 or #4.

    • Love everything you said, and I couldn’t agree more. I hear there’s a big reason for the firing of Herbert……and basically Perry was the only one with the balls to go to him and tell him he was fired, and it’s also why Herbert spews all of his venom onto Perry (as if the others didn’t feel the same way). Regardless to what anyone else says……all incarnations of “Journey after SP” have never rehired Herbert as a manager. Perhaps some of them have played with him in bands, are friends with him, go out to dinner with him…….but he’s not their manager. Instead, it’s Irving Azoff who Steve Perry was instrumental in hiring back in ’95. Since Steve Perry has always been above gutter talk, I’ll speak for him……..”you’re welcome”.

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