Legendary guitar God Joe Perry has released his memoir “Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith.” This book is not a response to Steven Tyler’s book from a couple of years ago, it’s a more traditional biography. I grew up a huge Joe Perry fan. As a kid there were few people in this world I wished that I could be, but at the top of that list was Joe Perry. Like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix before him, there was and still is something mysterious about him. You never really knew Joe Perry, you just knew he was cool. With “Rocks” we got to look deep into Joe Perry’s thoughts and I like what I saw.
“Rocks” starts at the very beginning of his life and takes us through today. We learn and understand what lead Joe to becoming a musician. He wanted to be a marine biologist but he couldn’t keep his grades up and it wasn’t for a lack of trying. He didn’t seem to be a trouble maker, he just decided to grow his hair long and ultimately got kicked out of school because of that. Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton and Steven Tyler used to all hang out, for the most part separately, at Lake Sunapee in the summers as kids before several years later meeting up to form Aerosmith.
The first thing I’m sure everybody wants to know about is what did Joe say about Steven. Joe Perry has always been a rock guy. Steven Tyler was always the pop guy that dabbled in rock. That difference is at the core of what Aerosmith is. For every bad thing Perry says about Tyler he follows it up with a compliment or a criticism of himself. I wonder if writing this book brought up bad feelings about Tyler or positive feelings when all was said and done. I could see it both ways, because for as much as Tyler would drive Perry crazy, Tyler was always there when Joe needed him, specifically his dad’s funeral. By the end of the book Perry seems to have accepted the fact that he and Steven are two totally different people, but when they take the stage it just all goes away for the next 2 hours. His biggest beef with Tyler is and always has been the lack of communication.
What surprised me more than anything was the lack of arrogance that Joe Perry told his story with. Everybody knows that when Aerosmith took Guns n Roses out on tour back in the late 80’s that Guns started to over shadow Aerosmith. Usually a strong/stubborn ego would choose to misremember how that really went down, but not Joe Perry. He full on owned the fact that Guns was the flavor of the moment. Through out the entire book he really humanizes himself and the band. This is not an exaggeration of how great he is or they are it's an honest story, if not a little on the conservative side.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This book does not glorify sex, drugs, and rock n roll. Actually that’s not true, it glorifies the rock n roll, but it really down plays the sex and drugs. He certainly talks about both but never does he brag about the number of women he slept with or celebrate his drug addiction. He celebrates his monogamy. He love his wife Billie more than anything else. He examines his drug use and what effect it was having on his life. This is the first time I’ve ever really understood the extent of his drug addiction day in and out.
From the outside looking in, Aerosmith was formed in the early 70’s, hit it big in the early to mid 70’s. They all got strung out on drugs, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford left where the drug addiction worsened. In the mid 80’s they got back together and became bigger than ever…the end. That’s not the case. There always seems to be drama right around the corner for Aerosmith, whether it be bad managers, ex wives, drugs, fighting with in the band, “American Idol,” it goes on and on and probably will until the end. The fact of the matter is that when those five guys get together they are the best band in the world. Pick up “Rock: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith.” It’s a good read, it’s an easy read, it’s entertaining and you come away from the experience with a better understanding of Joe Fucking Perry.
BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.