Joe Perry Explains His Career-Altering Decision Inspired By Jeff Beck

Joe Perry recently chatted with Guitar World, discussing how seeing Jeff Beck play influenced his early days as a guitarist and led to a career-altering decision.

The fact that Beck had a prominent influence all over the rock scene is surely undisputable, as the late rocker and his peers defined what a guitar player should be for many younger guitarists. Apparently, Joe was also among those who, upon seeing Jeff on stage, couldn’t help but feel inspired.

So, while the Aerosmith icon was disclosing all about his choice for playing Les Paul, he recalled how he switched his equipment in the first place as Perry had a Guild Starfire early on in his career. However, after seeing the British guitar hero playing Les Paul, the rocker followed suit, traded his guitar, and visited a music store to buy himself a brand new, reissued Les Paul Gold Top.

The rocker then discussed how although he often played with Les Paul through the ’70s, he preferred recording with a Strat since he liked the guitar’s different tones and used its flexibility to add different dimensions to his sound. So, when it came to guitar playing, Perry never shied away from switching instruments.

However, since he recorded most of Aerosmith’s notable albums, such as ‘Pandora’s Box,’ ‘Nine Lives,’ and ‘Toys In The Attic,’ with Les Paul, it might be safe to say that Beck managed to touch into Joe’s musical life one way or the other, and perhaps, the Aerosmith icon’s move to give up his then-guitar and switch to the more established sound of Les Paul was a career-altering decision.

Perry on Jeff’s influence, getting his first Les Paul, and how he changed equipment whenever he saw fit:

“After seeing that Jeff Beck played a Les Paul, I [was] determined to sell the Guild Starfire I had. I traded it in ’68. They had just reissued the Les Paul Gold Top, and so I bought a new one. I could have picked up a ’59 for pretty close to what I paid for a new one off the wall, but I just went into the music store, and there it was.

I played Les Pauls pretty much throughout the ’70s, but I recorded most of my stuff with Strats. I always loved having the vibrato arm, and it seemed easier to get different tones out of a Strat. The tone you could get out of a Les Paul was heavier, and it was easier to get distortion with less noise.

I think a lot of the reason that guitar plays so well, in general, is because it has its roots in Spanish guitar The first version, with the trapeze tailpiece and the strings going under the bridge, is almost impossible to play the way we play guitar now, but after the first couple of years they really nailed it.”

Jeff was among the guitar heroes who influenced fellow guitarists and made them rethink their decisions about which instrument to play, as Joe was eager to change his equipment after seeing Beck on stage. So, it could be fair to say that if art imitates life, then guitar heroes love imitating fellow guitar heroes.