Joe Perry is not only a prolific songwriter and guitarist, he is an acclaimed author. Perry recently completed a whirlwind book tour to support Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith. He began the process of greeting, signing and participating in Q & A’s for thousands of fans in early October. After hitting New York and Boston, he took in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Chicagoland and then shredded his way through prominent book stores and several Guitar Center stores in California and Arizona. Tomek Spirala, General Manager of Guitar Center, Arlington Heights, Il., helped field phone calls and took part in preparing his popular, suburban store for Joe’s much-anticipated visit on October 13, 2014. Although storm clouds had begun to gather overhead as the fans formed lines outside, the tone inside could not have been brighter. Here’s Tomek to fill you in on the details.
Question : What was the response to the news that Joe Perry was coming to visit your store?
Tomek : Guitar Center, Arlington Heights was expecting about 150-200 people to come to the event. We realized early in the week, when people were calling that the number was going to be far greater. People asked how early they should get there to line up and how early they have to line up to be guaranteed to see Joe. We did have a little bit over 300 people come to the event. There were people that drove from Wisconsin, about four hours away.
Question : How would you describe the turnout?
Tomek : We had a lot of families that came to the event. It seems that Aerosmith’s music still bridges the gap between generations and can be a band that is timeless, genderless and ageless in appreciation. A few families that came in said they have seen the band together as a family many times.
Question : Did you hear any comments as Joe worked his way through the crowd?
Tomek : Yes. The comments were overwhelmingly positive and we felt very privileged to be a part of this event. We had multiple people crying and shaking after meeting Joe Perry. He is an amazing individual and a very, sincere person. He did not stop signing books and taking photos until everyone that came out had a chance to meet him.
Question : What was it like working on such a tight schedule?
Tomek : Joe was at our location for a very strict 90-minute signing. However, nothing felt rushed because he truly is a professional. He actually stayed about 15 minutes extra to get through the last few people in line. He is truly a “road-dog” and has made all of his fans happy at this event.
Question : Did Joe have a chance to play any gear?
Tomek : As soon as he was done with the signing, Joe had to leave immediately. He had already stayed too long at the event to take care of the last of the people in line so there wasn’t any more time.
Question : What is your favorite Joe Perry/Aerosmith recording?
Tomek : I still love the album Get a Grip. I was about ten years old when that album came out and I think I listened to the song “Eat The Rich” on repeat for a month straight. It was my first experience with Aerosmith and I was hooked since that day.
Question : Thank you so much, Tomek.
Tomek : Thank you.