Jonathan Cain still hasn't completely come to terms with Steve Perry's departure from Journey.

"I think the biggest shock for me was Steve Perry retiring," Cain tells WOUB in Charleston, West Virginia. "I had to scratch my head when that happened, when he just said, 'I've had enough. I'm burned out. I don't want to go on.' I would've never bet in a million years that I would hear that from him. That was the biggest shocker. He was willing to just let it all go."

They'd twice gotten back together after a hiatus, most recently for 1996's Trial by Fire. Cain thought an earlier reunion for 1986's Raised on Radio was the one that would stick – mostly because Perry seemed to have come alive again out on the road.

READ MORE: Ranking All 52 Journey Songs From the '80s

"He had the most fun I think he's ever had on the Raised on Radio tour in '87," Cain argued. "That was the last tour. He really had fun. I mean, it's the first time he didn't have [Perry's long-time girlfriend] Sherrie [Swafford] telling him he was lousy and all the stuff she did. She was a piece of work, but he was free."

Before that, Perry had been traveling separately with Swafford. But then he suddenly halted the Raised on Radio dates. Perry never performed in support of Trial by Fire, citing health issues. He then declined to sing with the group after their 2017 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. At that point, Journey had long since turned to replacements. Arnel Pineda eventually became their longest-tenured frontman.

Watch Journey’s ‘Separate Ways’ Video

Who Was Sherrie Swafford?

Sherrie Swafford was the inspiration for Perry's debut single, 1984's "Oh Sherrie." The No. 3 solo hit directly referenced some of their behind-the-scenes romantic issues. On at least one occasion, however, this turbulence spilled out into public view.

Perry's bandmates said Swafford created a distraction on the shoot for Journey's "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" video when she became jealous of a featured model. "You're going to have a slut in your video?" Cain remembers Swafford asking Perry. "She had to be a not-good-looking one," Neal Schon added.

READ MORE: Why Journey Stopped Making Videos

The band pushed forward with the Tom Buckholtz-directed clip, which featured a female student from a nearby university. That left Perry to openly wonder if he'd have to write a song for Swafford to smooth things over. "And so he did," Cain told the Huffington Post, laughing.

Against the strenuous arguments of his next director, Perry then installed Swafford as the star of the subsequent video for "Oh Sherrie."

"Steve wanted to use his girlfriend, Sherrie Swafford," producer Paul Flattery says in the Amazon best-selling Journey: Worlds Apart. "We were saying, 'Don't do it; don't do it – because there's going to come a time when you're not going to be together. Then your new girlfriend is not going to want to look at it, and you're not going to want to look at it.' This had happened to us so many times — but he ignored it."

Watch Steve Perry’s ‘Oh Sherrie’ Video

What Happened to Sherrie Swafford?

Tensions apparently rose on set again, as indicated by Perry's concluding interaction with Swafford in the "Oh Sherrie" video. "The weird thing was at the very end, the first take we did, he goes: 'Hey, I kinda love you.' By take 6, it was 'I kinda like you,'" Flattery said with a laugh.

After their break up, Swafford maintained a quiet life away from the spotlight. Her highest-profile comments arrived through a statement issued to Marc Tyler Nobleman in 2013, when Swafford revealed that she'd gone on to become an esthetician and yoga instructor.

She confirmed that never married and had no children. Swafford said she cherished "my friends — including Steve — and my privacy. It was so different for us! It was just love, nothing else!" Perry has also been conciliatory when discussing those long-ago days.

"Sherrie and I were crazy in love, I can tell you that – and it was a very tough time because the band was peaking," Perry told the Tampa Bay Times in 2011. "And if any woman out there thinks that it would be real exciting to be the girlfriend of somebody in a band like that and that it would be all peaches and cream, the truth is that it's hard to navigate a relationship when you're in the midst of such a ride."

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Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso

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