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Who the Hell are Eels, and Why is Steve Perry Singing with Them?

E Steve Perry
Knuckles Brown

After former Journey lead singer Steve Perry joined them onstage to perform live for the first time in 18 years, many classic rock fans were left with a bevy of questions, chief among them, “Who the hell are Eels?”

Formed in 1995, the alternative/indie rock group Eels are the brainchild of Mark Oliver Everett, or as he is more commonly referred to, E. Their big break came in 1996 when their debut single ‘Novocaine for the Soul’ managed to climb its way up to reach the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart. It also broke into the Top 10 overall in the U.K.

In the ensuing years, Eels have kept busy, releasing 10 studio albums and six live records. They also have displayed a penchant for contributing to soundtracks, including ‘American Beauty,’ ‘Knocked Up,’ and all three ‘Shrek’ movies.

Even beyond their affiliation with Perry, the Eels have long worn their affinity for classic rock on their sleeve by way or performing a variety of covers throughout their career. On their 2005 live album ‘Sixteen Tons (Ten Songs),’ the opening track was a take on the Beatles‘ classic, ‘I’m a Loser.’ Their latest live recording, ‘Tremendous Dynamite,’ prominently features unique takes on the Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Summer in the City,’  as well as the George Gershwin standard ‘Summertime,’ which was a notable Janis Joplin hit.

E met Perry quite a long time ago and has spent years trying to cajole him into performing again. “We started talking to him about it, like, ‘Hey maybe you’d want to do this on stage with us sometime,’” the singer recalled. “And he’d say, ‘Nah, too much pressure’…But this year it was different. He showed up to our tour rehearsals like he always does, but on the second day he came in carrying his own microphone that he brought with him.”

When he finally did join the group onstage, it was a moment E most assuredly will never forget. “It was such a beautiful moment,” he said. “Again, it sent chills down my spine just to be there with him in his element doing what he was made to do. And as my friend, it felt good to see him feeling so good about that.”

While many classic rock fans continue to be only vaguely aware of the existence of Eels, with Perry having recently joined the group onstage again at a stop in the nation’s capital, you can bank on the fact that they can certainly expect to see a rise in the number of Journey fans in their regular audience pool. Might their unexpected collaboration become a more regular occurrence? As the old saying goes, don’t stop believin’.

Next: Top 10 Journey Songs


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