In “Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith,” Joe Perry describes vocalist Steven Tyler as “a painfully slow lyricist,” compulsive talker and egomaniac.
The guitarist writes about overhearing Tyler telling a promoter on Aerosmith’s 2011 tour of South America “The only reason he was touring was because the band — not he — needed the money.” Not long after he told “60 Minutes,” “He alone had carried the band to greatness, complaining that the rest of us were riding on his coattails.”
Speaking by phone, Perry — who will be signing copies of the book, co-written with David Ritz, at Barnes & Noble at The Grove 7 p.m. Wednesday, and at Book Soup in West Hollywood 7 p.m. Oct. 20 — says he set out to dig into his tumultuous 40-plus year relationship with Tyler as he remembers it.
“Just knowing his personality, I know that there’s going to be certain things that he’s going to take offense to,” he says. “On the other hand, one of the things that’s always kept our relationship interesting is I’ve never been able to second-guess him. He may just read it and go, ‘You know what? He’s right. That’s how it happened.’ ”
“Rocks” is a chronological look back at more than the band. It chronicles the 64-year-old rocker’s life so far, from his “idyllic” small-town upbringing to Aerosmith’s sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll adventures to the family that Perry has grown with his wife of 30 years, Billie Perry. There are famous stories told from Perry’s point of view, including the one about a suitcase full of money that brought armed “thugs” knocking at their apartment door late one night.
This was in the band’s formative years.
As he remembers it, the gangsters argued with Tyler, accusing him of taking the money, “when suddenly the back door crashed open” and an ex-Marine back from Vietnam “came running through the apartment wielding an enormous sword.”
Aerosmith officially formed in 1970. Bassist Tom Hamilton, guitarist Brad Whitford and drummer Joey Kramer rounded out that first incarnation of the band. Together, they produced hits like “Dream On,” “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way,” performed “Come Together” in the movie “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and partied. Hard.
Perry chalks it up to the times.
“All the turmoil that started in my mind with the first Kennedy assassination set the tone for an incredibly tumultuous decade ending with people landing on the moon,” Perry says.
“When you think about some of the stuff that was going on, it was enough to turn the world upside-down. It was a really heavy time and the music had so much more weight and was so much more important to people. One of the most important things I wanted to get across (in the book) was what the times were like.
“It was a pretty wild time.”
But just to be clear, Perry insists it’s by no means the kind of autobiography written at the end of a career.
“I don’t know how much longer the band is going to go on, but I know we’re going to pack as much as we can into the next bunch of years,” he says. “So there’s going to be a lot more to write about.”