The son of a woodwind player, Neal himself played the oboe for many years beginning in high school. Schon first picked up the guitar at the age of 10. He joined Santana as a teenage prodigy at the age of 15. Schon had famously been asked by Eric Clapton to join Derek and the Dominos, but decided instead to join Santana for the album Santana III. Schon also played in Azteca before moving on to form Journey, a group he continues to lead.