AEROSMITH Guitarist JOE PERRY - JIMI HENDRIX' Influence Was "Huge"

October 5, 2006, 17 years ago

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Natalie Nichols from spoke to AEROSMITH guitar legend JOE PERRY recently. The Q&A; follows:

CityBeat: What do the words “classic rock” mean to you?

Joe Perry: "For a while there, it had an onerous ring to it, but it’s starting to find a style of music that people appreciate – not because it’s old, and not because it’s uncool. To me, “classic rock” can even apply to a brand new band, depending on the style of music they play."

CityBeat: THE WHO’s Pete Townshend has complained that the category and “classic rock” radio boils his entire career down to three or four songs.

Joe Perry: "That’s definitely one reality. Those are the songs that bubble up – like Bad Company’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” Does that define their whole career? Maybe on a couple of playlists it does, but if you’re a fan of that era and that kind of music, you know it’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the same with the Who. I defy you to find someone who goes to see them play live now who would say those four songs is it to them."

CityBeat: The blues seemed to be at the core of the classic rock generation.

Joe Perry: "There is the famous quote from Muddy Waters: 'The blues had a baby and they called it rock and roll.' The birthing was right around the ’50s, with CHUCK BERRY and LITTLE RICHARD. The list is pretty long, but those few people just played blues faster, and the vernacular just expanded from there. All of the pop music that we hear now has its roots in the blues – it’s just farther from the birth, that’s all. Even hip-hop is an absolute direct descendent of the blues. It’s urban street-corner, tell-it-like-it-is, “I’m a man” kind of music. And it’s danceable. That’s what blues was.

CityBeat: People used compare Aerosmith a lot to THE ROLLING STONESs. Was that fair?

Joe Perry: "It used to annoy us because we really didn’t sound much like the Stones. We certainly admired and were inspired by the Stones, no doubt about it. After that, I felt it was a shallow comparison because that whole guitar player/lead singer stereotype was really starting to form. But I was prouder when people said we reminded them of THE YARDBIRDS. Their music was lot more like where we were coming from."

CityBeat: Why the guitar?

Joe Perry: "It just felt really good when I picked it up, and I loved the way it sounds. Not just the way I play it. When I first heard guitar sounds I just loved it. I play a lot of different instruments. When I was a kid, I played band instruments. I played clarinet for about a month. I played piano. I’m fine sitting in the back of the car with a guitar and a fake book. I spent many, many hours doing that as a kid."

CityBeat: Was Jimi Hendrix much of an influence on you?

Joe Perry: "Huge. Everything he did. Playing within the narrow confines of that blues rock thing, he expanded it beyond what anybody had done before or since. His whole persona was the instrument, everything from his spaced-out lyrics to his blues playing. He was unique, an amazing figure. It was a miracle that he grew up in a time when electric guitar was in its formative stages. He just took it right to the end."

To read the entire interview head to this location.

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