Aerosmith’s Joe Perry will be at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum this Tuesday, October 14, 2014 to sign copies of his new Simon & Schuster autobiography “Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith” from noon to 2:00pm.
The event is free and open to the public, with no ticket purchase or RSVP required.
Note, however, that Perry will only sign copies of the book purchased at the event. No other items will be autographed. Photographs are prohibited. So leave your vinyl copies of “Get Your Wings” and “Toys in The Attic” at home—and try to suppress that itchy finger on your camera or iPhone.
Perry last visited Cleveland (and the Rock Hall), when he presented Slash with an award for “Guitar Legend” at the first-ever A.P. Awards ceremony and concert. The book mentions how the former Guns ‘n’ Roses superstar returned Perry’s prized 1959 Gibson guitar years after Joe—deep in debt—sold the instrument to make ends meet.
It’s just one of hundreds of Aerosmith anecdotes (both flattering and embarrassing) that elevate Perry’s candid confessional above your run-of-the-mill celebrity memoirs.
Written with David Ritz, the new book chronicles Perry’s wild and crazy journey with the band he formed with bassist Tom Hamilton back in 1970. The man behind such raucous concert staples as “Sweet Emotion,” “Draw the Line,” “Train Kept a-Rollin’” and “Walk This Way” opens a few old wounds when discussing the group’s early days as a Rolling Stones-like five-piece, their ascent to stadium superstardom, and rough patches in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Perry reflects on his personal and professional relationship with “Toxic Twin” Steven Tyler, and how drinking and drugs nearly derailed his career.
We get the scoop on the inner conflicts that motivated the Les Paul player to start his own band, The Joe Perry Project, at the end of the ‘70s, and rejoice anew when the stars realign for Aerosmith’s mid-80s comeback on Geffen: The albums “Permanent Vacation,” “Pump,” and “Get a Grip” saw the band widen its exposure (courtesy MTV as much as FM radio) and play to younger, larger audiences than ever before, with hits like “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “Love in an Elevator,” “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” and “Cryin’” soaring to the top of the charts.
In its 45-year history, Aerosmith have sold millions of albums, racking an impressive six American Music Awards, four Billboard Awards, four Grammys, and ten MTV Video Music Awards in the process. Perry—with his searing guitar attack, snarl, and perpetual bare chest—figured heavily into the Boston band’s initial success and resurgence.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Aerosmith in 2001.
“Rocks” takes readers back to Perry’s childhood (during which he idolized marine explorer Jacques Cousteau before doting on musical gunslingers Chuck Berry and Jimmy Page) and early experimentation in rock and roll. Plagued by a learning disability (ADHD), the curious youth had plenty of ambition but wasn’t able to translate his intellectual prowess into good grades at Vermont Academy—to the chagrin of pragmatic parents Tony and Mary. He stubbornly refused to cut his hair and dropped out of school, but nevertheless espoused his father’s strong work ethic while toiling in a Hopedale factory and at the family’s summer retreat in Sunapee. Nature-lover Perry learns of sex and romance, courtesy innocent liaisons (and torrid affairs) with “free spirits” named Sally, Betsy, and Elyssa—but nurtures healthy relationships with his six-stringed instruments, whose sensuous, curvaceous bodies reminded him of Sophia Loren.
We learn of Perry’s time paying dues in fledgling acts like Chimes of Freedom, Just Us, and Flash—and with Hamilton in the Jam Band. We relive his chance meeting with soul brother Steven Tallarico (better known as Tyler), a fast-talking singer (and drummer) who’s previous bands—like Perry’s—never made the all-important leapt to the next level. We meet all the colorful peripheral Aerosmith characters, like caretaker Mark Lehman, driver Gary Cabozzi, and smooth-talking, heavy-drinking first manager “Father Frank” Connally (sometimes they just have nicknames, like “Zunk” and “Pudge”). We journey to Boston with the upstart quintet (with drummer Joey Kramer and guitarist Brad Whitford), go “roach hunting” with them in a squalid apartment at 1325 Commonwealth, and relocate to their collegiate campsite on Kent Street as their incendiary live shows earn accolades along the East Coast.
With Perry as proxy, we sample the debauchery and excess that accompanied Aerosmith’s first wave of glory on Columbia Records, and wince at their mismanagement under the Leber-Krebs agency and Tim Collins semi-dictatorship. We’re privy to all the practices and barroom gigs at The Box, Max’s Kansas City, Alex Cooley’s Electric Ballroom, and The Greek in L.A. We vicariously participate in the backstage antics, arguments and fistfights (one of which occurs at the World Series of Rock at Cleveland Stadium in 1979), nasty fall-outs, and well-timed reconciliations.
We join Joe on the set of Beatles-inspired cinema dud “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (in which Aerosmith played villains to Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees), catch up on his soundtrack contributions (“Armageddon”), accompany him to rehab (Betty Ford Center), and rub shoulders with his own musical mentors, A-list contemporaries, and Hollywood heroes (Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz, ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, John Belushi, Ricardo Montalban, etc.). We witness all the low points (motorcycle crash, pain pill addiction, knee injury) and revel in Perry’s personal triumphs (jamming with KISS, return to Aerosmith in the ‘80s, and marriage to model Billie Montgomery).
The 400-plus page book includes not one but three full-color glossy photo inserts, a selected discography (albums and videos, with release dates), and comprehensive index. Guitar tech John Bionelli authors an appendix covering Joe’s gear on every album and tour, and goes into meticulous detail on Perry’s famous axes (Tobacco sunburst Les Paul, Plexi B.C. Rich, Gibson Firebird, Tele-Rat hybrid, Echopark “White Rose,” etc.), cabinets, racks, and effects pedals.
Longtime Aerosmith Johnny Depp pens a moving foreword wherein the actor describes hearing the band for the first time in a grocery store parking lot.
“A poetic life was Joe’s fate,” surmises the actor. “He was born with a style. He may have gleaned from the greats before him, as everyone must, but he transformed all that learning into his own signature sound.
“There is something primordial in the nature of his grooves that just flat-out rocks, inviting everyone to witness and experience. There’s no elitist guest list here. No VIPs. No backstage pass is needed. This book is a gift, a sacred tome, even. A hitherto secret slice of life beamed in directly from one of the greatest guitar gods to ever have walked the earth.”
We never pegged Perry as a knucklehead, but even with Ritz’s guidance it becomes obvious inside early chapters (like “Gestation” and “Birth”) just how well-read, articulate, thoughtful, self-aware, and humble the guy truly is.
Joey Kramer told his tale in the 2010 book “Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top.” Tyler’s tell-all, “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?” dropped in 2011.
No word yet on any forthcoming Aerosmith album or tour.
Perry’s most recent solo effort—”Have Guitar, Will Travel”—was issued on Roman Records in 2009. He was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame with Tyler last year.
For more information about Perry’s book signing in Cleveland, visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website at: https://rockhall.com/event/hall-of-fame-inductee-joe-perry-book-signing/#…
Other dates on Perry’s book tour appear as follows:
Date Time Where City State
10/07/14 7:00pm-9:00pm BARNES & NOBLE @ UNION SQUARE NYC
10/08/14 7:00pm-9:00pm BOOKENDS Ridgewood NJ
10/09/14 6:00pm-8:00pm BROOKLINE BOOKSMITH Brookline MA
10/10/14 6:00pm-8:00pm GUITAR CENTER Boston MA
10/11/14 2:00pm-5:00pm THE PAPER STORE Framingham MA
10/13/14 11:30am-2:00pm THE STANDARD CLUB Chicago IL
10/13/14 3:00pm-4:30pm GUITAR CENTER Arlington Heights IL
10/14/14 12:00pm-2:00pm THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME Cleveland OH
10/15/14 7:00pm-8:30pm BARNES & NOBLE @ THE GROVE LA, CA
10/16/14 6:00pm-8:00pm GUITAR CENTER San Francisco CA
10/17/14 6:00pm-7:30pm BOOK PASSAGE San Francisco CA
10/18/14 6:00pm-8:30pm CHANGING HANDS Phoenix AZ
10/19/14 2:00pm-4:00pm GUITAR CENTER Scottsdale AZ