Joe Perry Labels One Aerosmith Hit A “Waste Of Time”
Joe Perry on the Larry King Now interview - Larry King Youtube
The polished gleam of perfection has never been rock ‘n’ roll’s forte. While its anthems may resonate through the ages, their essence lies not in sterile precision, but in the raw beauty of the imperfect. A cracked vocal becomes a whisper of vulnerability, a distorted guitar solo, a torrent of unleashed passion, and a slightly off-beat drumbeat, the pulse of a living, breathing audience.
That’s why Joe Perry, Aerosmith’s fiery guitarist, thrived on the electrifying energy of live shows. But even Perry found himself at odds with the pursuit of pop perfection during the recording of their 2001 album, Just Push Play.
The band trudged through the sessions, but there was one song that stuck in Perry’s craw: “Girls of Summer”. He saw it as a discordant note in Aerosmith’s gritty symphony, a sugary pop confection disguised in their hard-hitting garb.
“I thought it was a waste of time,” Perry admitted, “and wrong for an Aerosmith record.” He implored Tyler to reserve it for a solo venture, but the frontman’s vision held sway and the song found its way onto the album.
Rising from the ashes with Done With Mirrors and a Run-DMC collab
Aerosmith, like a phoenix rising from ashes, had soared on the wings of Perry’s fiery riffs and Tyler’s soaring vocals. Yet, this formidable partnership hit a screeching halt in the early 80s. A colossal onstage fight, fueled by a personal clash over Perry’s wife, ripped the band apart. Perry, disillusioned and bearing the scars of addiction, took flight, forming The Joe Perry Project and leaving Aerosmith in a tailspin.
Their absence, however, only amplified their legend. As their influence echoed through the nascent hair metal scene, whispers of a reunion began to swirl. Perry, battling his demons but finding solace in his new wife’s unwavering support, took the first tentative steps back. Reaching out to Tyler, he proposed a reconciliation, a bridge built over the chasm of past grievances.
Done With Mirrors, their 1985 reunion album, wasn’t the glorious re-entry they’d envisioned. While it lacked the raw power of their earlier work, it held the seeds of future triumphs. A chance encounter with Run-DMC, the reigning kings of hip-hop, sparked an unexpected collaboration.
“Walk This Way”, a genre-bending fusion of Aerosmith’s rock and Run-DMC’s rap, sent shockwaves through the music scene. Suddenly, Aerosmith were back, bigger and badder than ever, not just kings of rock, but pioneers of a new sonic age. Songs like “Rag Doll” dominated the charts, their signature swagger reborn with a fresh, rebellious edge.
Aerosmith’s power ballad and pop rock eras
As the 90s dawned, Aerosmith, ever-adaptable chameleons, found their commercial zenith by embracing the power ballad. “Crazy” and “Cryin'” became instant classics, etching their names into the fabric of rock radio and cementing their status as one of the genre’s biggest draws. But with success came ambition, and soon, a siren song began to lure them further down a commercial path.
One film soundtrack and an Oscar nomination later, frontman Steven Tyler was swimming in Hollywood’s shallow end, seduced by the allure of blockbuster fame. Tyler’s vision of poppy commercial success, however, clashed with the band’s blues-rock roots, leaving guitarist Joe Perry scratching his head and wondering if they’d become lost in the neon labyrinth of mainstream music.
Their next album, Just Push Play, became a battlefield of artistic compromise. While the band dutifully trudged through studio sessions, churning out radio-friendly tracks that felt more manufactured than inspired, one song, in particular, didn’t sit too well with Perry: “Girls of Summer”.
With its sugary-sweet pop melody and forced hip-hop swagger, it sounded like a desperate attempt to capture the fleeting zeitgeist of Britney Spears and *NSYNC, a jarring discordance in Aerosmith’s gritty repertoire. Tyler, enamored with the song’s commercial potential, championed it, but for Perry, it represented everything they were trying to escape.
“A few overdubs doesn’t change the guts of a song”
In his memoir, Rocks, Joe Perry describes the track with a grimace: “Steven became enamoured of something called “Girls of Summer”. I put guitar on it. But a few overdubs doesn’t change the guts of a song. I thought it was a waste of time and wrong for an Aerosmith record.”
Tyler, however, saw “Girls of Summer” as a golden ticket to pop superstardom. He envisioned stadiums pulsating with the song’s sugary melody and radio waves saturated with its radio-friendly hooks.
Tyler was the only person featured in the accompanying video, as Perry had already rejected the song by the time the group started the song’s promotional cycle. Although the song would usher in the band’s most poppier period to date, they would spend the ensuing years reconnecting with their origins,
“Girls of Summer” may have been a misstep, but it ultimately served as a valuable lesson for Aerosmith. It reminded them of the importance of staying true to their musical identity, even in the face of commercial pressures.