BOOK REVIEW: "ROCKS: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith"

Aerosmith Guitarist Joe Perry Tells His Side of the Aerosmith Saga

BOSTON - Guitar legend Joe Perry has a new 'project' to talk about, but this time it's not his solo band releasing a new album. This time the Toxic Twin has released a book, co-written with acclaimed music biographer David Ritz (Buddy Guy, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Etta James) which unveils his side of the legendary yet sordid saga of one of rock music's greatest bands, Aerosmith.


Review and concert photo by Joe Milliken

However, this is not your typical tale of rock-and-roll excess, although there is plenty of that as well, no... this is a more thought-provoking insight about the life and times of a relatively shy guy from small town New England, who found fame and fortune through hard work, some hard partying and a little luck thrown in.

If you are even a casual fan of Aerosmith, you have heard all the stories by now; the band that rose to the top of the rock-and-roll mountain, watched it all come crashing down because of drugs, alcohol and inner-band turmoil, before getting clean and rising back up to the top of the charts while gaining a whole new legion of fans along the way.

Perry digs deep, recounting personal memories of the often love-hate relationship with his partner in musical crime, front-man Steven Tyler, deciding to leave one of the world's hottest bands for a solo career, only to come back to the band – get straight – then climb their way back to the top of the charts. The accounts are straight forward, insightful and often times brutally honest.

However, the guitar god also reveals a softer, personal side of his life that is often times not associated with a rock star; his distain for the groupie scene, (“I've always been a one-woman man”) backstage follies and the often times suffocating aspects of dealing with the fame and fortune of being in a world famous rock-and-roll band. Yes, Joe Perry is a family man first and foremost and is not shy about revealing his dislike over the generalizations and stereotypes often made about how a rock star should live his life.

Rocks has been a long time coming for this reviewer and writer, who just so happens to call Mr. Perry “My Elvis.” Being a Boston-native, growing up in Southern New Hampshire (where technically, Aerosmith was born) and now residing in Southern Vermont, the book became even more special as I read the details about all these tiny connections and memories I have collected of Joe and the band through the years.

Perry's accounts of particular shows that I witnessed, (including Aerosmith's 1984 reunion show at Concord, New Hampshire's Capitol Theatre) his memories of attending Vermont Academy which is right up the road from where I live, thoughts about his late mother, Mary, a wonderfully generous woman who I had the honor of speaking with on four occasions, to his thoughtful accounts of having a home in Southern Vermont, which is not far from where this writer now sits.

However, to be completely honest, there is also a twinge (ah, who am I kidding, a great wave) of jealousy that I was not the one writing a book about Joe Perry which I honestly, had been thinking about pursuing ever since the Aerosmith biography Walk This Way was released well over a decade ago. But who knows, perhaps when my current book project is complete (a biography about the late, great Benjamin Orr of The Cars) I will tackle a book about that other Joe Perry “Project” I mentioned at the start of this review. Either way, Rocks is a throughly enjoyable read and I highly recommend it to any fan of The Admiral and Aerosmith. File under: Let The Book Do The Talking.