Chart Beat

Rewinding the Charts: In 1981, Journey Didn't 'Stop' on Its Way to No. 1

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Journey photographed in 1979. 

The band earned its lone No. 1 album, 'Escape,' featuring 'Don't Stop Believin',' which has become the biggest-selling digital song recorded in the '80s.

FEW SONGS HAVE RESONATED MORE in recent pop culture than Journey's 1981 hit single, "Don't Stop Believin'."

The Chicago White Sox adopted it as an anthem during the team's 2005 march to its first World Series victory since 1917. The song served as the closing number for both the Broadway and film versions of the musical Rock of Ages, was covered by the cast of Fox's Glee and, most famously, played on a jukebox during the controversial final scene of the series finale of HBO's The Sopranos in 2007.

Twenty-six years earlier, the track, which was co-written by lead singer Steve Perry, keyboardist Jonathan Cain and guitarist Neal Schon, enjoyed its first run of success when it became one of four hit singles from the San Francisco band's first and only No. 1 album, Escape, which topped the Billboard 200 on Sept. 12, 1981.

Cain, who was 31 at the time (Perry and Schon were 32 and 27, respectively), tells Billboard that the tune was "inspired by a dare-to-dream idea that there's a destination in your life greater than you can imagine, 'on a midnight train going anywhere,' " a reference, of course, to the song's lyrics.

"Don't Stop Believin' " would peak at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1981, and though it wasn't the album's highest-charting single – "Open Arms" hit No. 2 in early 1982 – it has since become the biggest-selling digital track recorded in the 1980s, with 6.8 million downloads sold, according to Nielsen Music.

Although Perry left Journey in 1998 and the group has undergone numerous personnel changes, "Don't Stop Believin' " remains a concert staple. The band wrapped its latest tour on Sept. 4, but the chances of it releasing a new album with Perry, or reuniting with him, are slim, Cain told Billboard in May. "We've got an open chair for him if he wants to sing a song [or] whatever he wants."