The band Joe Perry called “rock and roll at its best”

Joe Perry

Joe Perry has been one of the few surviving living rock and roll legends since the 1970s. Perry was the one pushing Aerosmith to go beyond the conventional sounds of the British Invasion, indulging in heavier affairs across every one of their albums, while the majority of critics at the time labeled the band as nothing more than a cheap imitation of The Rolling Stones. Perry insisted that one band was the best representation of the genre he had ever seen, even though he lives and breathes rock.

The rock scene had already begun to change when Aerosmith first gained notoriety. Following The Beatles’ dissolution, a large number of the remaining 1960s bands were either vanishing from the scene or changing their sound; musicians like Led Zeppelin gave fans a sneak peek at what was to come next.

Originally drawn to the Stone Age of rock and roll, Perry learned his first licks from artists such as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, to create massive riffs rather than ballads. But when he began to stray from the traditional bluesy wheelhouse, frontman Steven Tyler became a co-conspirator.

After hearing Perry perform with his band, The Jam Band, at the local venue, The Barn, Tyler—who was already well-known throughout the East Coast as the frontman of the band Chain Reaction—became one of the best musicians in his field. Perry and Tyler, who thought they might have something if they collaborated, quickly became prolific songwriters, with Tyler putting words to Perry’s riffs to produce their first song, “Movin’ Out.”

By the time the group perfected their live act in the early 1970s, albums such as Toys in the Attic had become enormous aural statements, with licks from songs like “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion” holding up as bluesy takes on contemporary rock. Despite the massive firepower in their arsenal, Perry admitted that one of their opening acts blew him away the first time he heard them.

Perry was drawn to the sounds of AC/DC, who were just starting to gain popularity in Australia when they were organizing their first significant tours. Inspired by the Young Brothers’ enormous attitude, Joe Perry was enthralled with the songs on albums such as Powerage, wherein frontman Bon Scott cried out about the joys of being a part of a huge rock and roll band.

“They didn’t need any production, they didn’t need any lights, they just needed their guitars, their amps, and plenty of watts,” Perry said to Classic Rock, reflecting on his time spent touring with the Australian band. And they’d destroy the place. They were pretty mellow guys off-stage, but once they stepped onstage, they were on fire. They’re rock’n’roll at its best, the real deal.”

After Scott’s death, the band continued to play with Brian Johnson for the enormous album Back in Black, and their intensity didn’t waver for a second. Even Perry, with all of Aerosmith’s stage presence, was aware that anyone willing to share the stage with AC/DC would receive a crash course in proper rock and roll technique.

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