His in-depth autobiography, Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith, co-written with David Ritz, with a foreword by Johnny Depp, charts the many ups and downs that this unassuming character who, without even trying is the epitome of rock star cool, has experienced over the last six decades.
“The band’s 40th anniversary was coming up, we were finishing the last Sony album (Music from Another Dimension), there were some personal things in my life that were changing – it seemed like the end of an era in terms of the music business… I’d been thinking about it for a while, so I set about doing it.”
“Yeah, I really enjoyed the early stuff, talking about my youth and meeting Tom (Hamilton) and all the times up at the lake. Those are pretty amazing years in anybody’s life.
I was aware that Joe had read Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?, Steven Tyler’s autobiography, released in 2011, and that he had been unhappy with some of the things his long-time friend and musical partner-in-crime had written, believing that the singer had failed to correctly recall specific moments in the band’s history. Did the guitarist therefore see Rocks as a chance to redress the balance?
“But it was his book and that’s the way he saw it… When I went to write my book I had the same attitude: ‘This is my book, I’m gonna write it the way I see it and the way I feel it.’ I wouldn’t be surprised if there are certain things where we’re both telling the same story and we both got it right.
“I went back and I looked at all the interviews and David Ritz did the same thing. He went back and looked at all the interviews, all the other books that have been written, all the unauthorised books that have been written – the Walk This Way book…
“But it wasn’t as a reaction to Steven’s book, or anything at all. I’m not gonna sit there and try and argue with him about ‘Well this happened this way or that way,’ or whatever because it’s his book, man. I’m not gonna get in the way of it and I wouldn’t expect him to get in the way of mine.”
“I really didn’t worry about that as far as the band goes,” states the inspirational musician (a major influence on the likes of Slash and Kurt Cobain), who has been very busy publicising his memoir at book signings across the country – and on TV .
“We knew we’d have to put some stuff out there where I had to hold my hands up to my own mistakes and all that stuff. We decided that if we wanted it to be as good a book as it could be, we’d have to put both sides of the story in there. It just came natural anyway – it’s part of my nature to do that. I don’t go out there pointing fingers at people and blaming them.”
“I remember 90% of everything. It was more the chronology of it – exactly when things happened. It was pretty easy to kind of figure that out; just look at when the records came out and then you can work back from there.
The last few years have been eventful, to say the least, for Boston’s finest. Injuries to their charismatic lead singer, whose stint on American Idol also caused friction, a bass player undergoing treatment for cancer and the possibility of having to look for a new frontman, meant Aerosmith were rarely out of the news.
“But mainly, I think I set the record straight from my point-of-view, again backed up by emails and conferences with other people. That was totally out of context… I mean Steven officially left at one point, and he never mentions that when he gets interviewed, and I don’t think he mentioned it in his book.
“Of course we were thinking that that was one of the options, but we never tried anybody out – we never talked to anybody about it. I never did, anyway, and this was way before the American Idol thing.
“He quit the band. We got a letter from his lawyer. He said, ‘I’m leaving the band, I’m gonna do Brand Tyler. I don’t know what that is, but I need two years off.’ That’s what we were left with. We had to figure out what we wanted to do and then he came back. So anyway, I kind of spelled all that stuff out and how it happened.”
“I’m surprised,” admits the clearly very grateful star, who cites performing with Tom Jones at the Concert for Diana in 2007 as one of his career highlights. “When we found out it had made the Top 10 on the New York Times list, we were just blown away – Billie and I were speechless for days. It’s way more than I ever expected. I’m just really happy it went that way.
“I’ve read books where I’ve had to work my way through, so I really wanted it to be as good as it could be on every level. I’m really happy about it.”
Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith is available now on Amazon.
For more information on Joe Perry, visit his official website.
For more on Aerosmith, visit theirs.