Joe Perry is well-known to music lovers as the lead guitarist and contributing songwriter for Aerosmith, one of America's greatest rock & roll bands. His work with the iconic group has resulted in an enduring array of praise and honors. Some notable achievements over the course of three decades include album sales of more than 100 million copies, four Grammy Awards, two MTV Video Awards, six Billboard Music Awards, eight American Music Awards, 23 Boston Music Awards, two People's Choice Awards and a Best Song Oscar nomination for “I Don't Want to Miss a Thing,” from the soundtrack of 1998's “Armageddon.” In 2001, along with his band mates, Perry was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
During his hiatus from Aerosmith (1979-1984), the praised musician released three albums with minimal commercial success under the Joe Perry Project, namely “Let the Music Do the Talking,” “I've Got the Rock'n'Rolls Again” and “Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker.” More recently, in 2005, he enjoyed victory on his own with “Joe Perry,” a genuine solo project that won him a 2006 Grammy nomination for the instrumental song “Mercy.”
“That's hard to say because if you heard them in their really rough form you may recognize a couple of the things. But a lot of the work that I did on them was kind of an open palette. Sometimes it's something that works for the band and sometimes it isn't. There are some songs that are just a couple of chord changes and for whatever reason they just don't resonate with everyone else and we'd go on to do something else. Then I'd take a couple of songs that actually did work with the band, but they never made it on the records and rearranged it and rewrote the stuff until it worked for me. Also I've been working in the kind of vocal register that I'm most comfortable in, which I was kind of a little hesitant to do in the last few years. But I kind of felt really comfortable getting down there and singing in a lower register. So it just opened up a whole box of tools to get these songs to work. But I still couldn't have made this record 15 years ago. I think that is a big part of why I was able to do this was because of all the experience that I've gained in the last 15 or 20 years and just learning more about production.” Joe Perry
As for his family life, Perry has been married twice. He was married to first wife Elyssa Jerret, the daughter of jazz clarinetist Nick Jerret, from 1975 to 1985 and married his present wife, Billie Paulette Montgomery, in September 1985. He has a total of three biological sons, Adrian Perry (mother: Elyssa), Tony and Roman Perry (mother Billie), and a stepson, Aaron Hirsch (from Billie's first marriage). Tony and Adrian are both founding members of the band Tab, while Aaron is the CEO for Perry's hot sauce brand, “Joe Perry's Rock Your World.” Perry has frequently brought his entire family with him on Aerosmith concert tours.
Childhood and Family:
Anthony Joseph Pereira, who would later be famous as Joe Perry, was born on September 10, 1950, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. His father's family members were Portuguese immigrants from the Island of Madeira and when his grandfather arrived in the United States of America, he subsequently changed the family's name from Pereira to Perry. His mother's family came from Naples, Italy. Along with his younger sister, Anne-Marie (born in December 1954), Joe was raised in the small town of Hopedale, Massachusetts, where his father worked as an accountant and her mother taught gym at high school (later became an aerobics instructor). Upon the death of his father in 1975, his mother retired and moved to Arizona.
At age 25, on August 5, 1975, Joe married Elyssa Jerret. The marriage ended in divorce in 1985. Joe and Elyssa have one son named Adrian. Joe married Billie Paulette Montgomery on September 21, 1985, whom he met on the set of his “Black Velvet Pants” video two years before. They have two children together, Tony and Roman. Joe has a grandchild, Austin, from his stepson, Aaron Hirsch (Billie's son from a previous relationship).
Joe has several nicknames, including “Italian stallion” and “King of Cool.”
Joe Perry was introduced to rock n' roll at an early age. Kindled by the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles in the 1960s, the Massachusetts native learned guitar during his teen years and began jamming with British blues rockers like The Yardbirds and John Mayall. Perry also honed in on his craft by playing with bands like Plastic Glass, Flash, Just Us, and The Jam Band, a group he formed with future Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton. After crossing paths with New York City native Steven Tyler (then named Steven Tallarico) in 1969, Aerosmith was born with Perry on lead guitar, Tyler on vocals, Hamilton on bass, Joey Kramer on drums, and Ray Tabano on second guitar (later replaced by Brad Whitford). First disregarded as knock-offs of the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith eventually earned success during the mid-1970s with a series of hit records, including the classics “Toys in the Attic“ (1975) and “Rocks” (1976). The group enjoyed hit singles with songs like “Same Old Song and Dance,” “Dream On,” “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion.”
However, Aerosmith's success did not last long. Perry and Tyler became addicted to drugs and shared the nickname “Toxic Twins.” As a result of this, the band's camaraderie gradually weakened and dimmed their original musical vision and led to collapse between Perry and Tyler. Despite personal problems, in 1977, Aerosmith managed to launch an album called “Draw the Line” with Perry being featured in the frantic “Bright Light Fright,” which was one of the album's highlights. A fall 1977 tour was set, but hostility followed when “The Blue Army” (Aerosmith's fans) became more aggressive. Perry and Tyler were wounded on stage in Philadelphia at the Spectrum in October 1977. Perry eventually left Aerosmith in 1979 following a backstage incident in Cleveland where his first wife, Elyssa, threw a glass of milk at Tom Hamilton's wife, Terry.
Shortly thereafter, Perry founded his own band, The Joe Perry Project, and released a debut album, “Let the Music Do the Talking.” A respectable product, the record peaked at No. 47 on the Billboard album charts and sold 250,000 copies domestically. Perry gained additional prominence with the band's memorable live performances. Unfortunately, drugs again became an obstacle and soon ruined the band. The follow-up “I've Got the Rock'n'Rolls Again” and 1983's “Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker” were largely ignored. By 1984, Perry and his band found themselves with minimal label support.
Still in 1984, manager Tim Collins attempted to get Perry back with his former band mates of Aerosmith. Perry patched up his differences with Tyler and reunited with the classic Aerosmith line-up that same year. Drug use was still in affect and resulted in their unfocused debut for “Geffen, 85's Done With Mirrors.” Thanks to a triumphant collaboration with Run-DMC in a remake of the band's 1975's “Walk This Way,” the group revamped their mainstream status. After completing rehabilitation, Aerosmith continued to collaborate with diverse famed songwriters and producers to launch their true comeback. By the late 1980s, the band was on peak of the rock world again.
In the Renaissance era, Perry and Aerosmith had such hit albums as “Permanent Vacation,” “Get A Grip” and most notably, “Pump,” a triple-platinum album released in 1989. They also produced a number of popular singles, including “I Don't Want to Miss a Thing,” the group's first No. 1 hit that was included in the mega-hit film “Armageddon.” Perry helped conceive the song with pop songwriter Diane Warren. Since 2001, Aerosmith has toured every year. With Tyler, in 2006, Perry performed a three-song medley (“Dream On,” “Walk This Way” and “I Don't Want to Miss a Thing”) with the Boston Pops Orchestra in Boston, Massachusetts, to celebrate the Fourth of July.
In addition to his hectic schedule with Aerosmith, Perry still found time pursuing his personal career. In 2005, he released his first solo record called “Joe Perry.” In the album, the multi-talented artist sang all the vocals and played all the guitar, keyboard and bass parts, as well as served as co-producer with Paul Caruso, who recorded and engineered the disc and played drums. Perry was nominated for a 2006 Grammy in the category of Best Rock Instrumental for “Mercy.” The album also spawned tracks like “Shakin' My Cage,” a rock declaration of psychic liberation, “Push Comes To Shove” and “Dying To Be Free.”
“It's the old thing. I had all this material that we hadn't used with Aerosmith that was begging to have a song wrapped around them, so many licks, so many rhythms and things like that. I just started to accumulate material and I just felt like the best thing to do was to try and finish them off so that I'd have a body of work if, God forbid, there was an early demise with a tree and a motorcycle. Then I would have something that my wife could put out, my basement tapes. So that's kind of where I started. This was last year then it started to feel like it might be cool to put another solo record out and the band had this past year off so it kind of worked out.” Joe Perry