Aerosmith’s Joe Perry on his turbulent relationship with Steven Tyler: “He’s probably my best friend”

Joe Perry and Steven Tyler at an awards ceremony
(Image credit: Venturelli/WireImage)

Classic Rock 315 - Guns N' Roses cover

(Image credit: Future)

There are few partnerships in rock’n’roll that have been as fruitful or combustible as that of Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry.

Tyler and Perry – aka The Toxic Twins – have led the Boston band to huge commercial success over the past 50 years on albums such as Toys In The Attic, Rocks, Permanent Vacation and Pump.

But their relationship has sometimes been dysfunctional and explosive. Perry famously quit Aerosmith in 1979, before returning five years later. In 2009, the singer announced he would be focussing on ‘Brand Tyler’, prompting Perry to claim that Aerosmith were looking for a new singer.

But in an extensive new interview in this month’s Classic Rock magazine, Perry has thrown light on the two men’s sometimes fractious relationship, shooting down rumours that they don’t get on.

“This is no bullshit, man, he’s probably my best friend through all of it,’ Perry tells Classic Rock. “We just know we’re different people. Even through the 70s, we were the ones that would go off on a scuba diving trip together.

“In the 80s and 90s, [Perry’s wife] Billie and I bought a bus so we could go out and have our kids and bring a dog with us. I remember, we went out to the desert in Las Vegas with Steven. They had this truck on the big, flat desert with a parachute thing, and we all took turns going up in this thing.”

In the same interview, Perry recalls encountering Tyler for the first time, months before they became bandmates.

“The first time I met him, I didn’t really meet him, so to speak,” says the guitarist. “I was working in a hamburger joint in the lake area, and I did everything from cooking the French fries to sweeping the floor and taking out the trash.

“His family had a place up there, a bed and breakfast kind of thing, and every summer he’d come up from New York with one of his bands. I remember them rolling in and basically behaving like what they thought rock stars should do, which was throw food at each other. So they left and I had to clean up after them.”

Perry also addressed Tyler’s decision to sign up as a judge on US TV show American Idol for two seasons, starting in 2010.

When Steven was doing that TV show [American Idol, which Tyler appeared on as a judge for two seasons from 2010], it was, like, “Holy shit, we’re gonna have to plan the band’s career around that.” But god bless him, not everybody gets the chance to do that, so it was, ‘Go for it, man.’ There was a lot going on, so I filled it with writing, that’s why I’ve got seven or eight solo albums. I just wish some of those songs had been… I played most of that stuff to Steven.” 

The guitarist also acknowledged the fact that the public bickering between Tyler and his bandmates around that time may have done more harm than good.

In 2008, Tyler jammed with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones after Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant refused to take part in a full-blown reunion after their one-off comeback show at London’s 02 Arena. The Aerosmith singer subsequently announced that he would be focussing on “Brand Tyler”.

Perry responded at the time by saying that Aerosmith were “looking for a new singer” (they eventually put their differences behind them to record 2012’s Music From Another Dimension!).

“I’m not sure how I feel about that,” Perry says now of their public spat. “They say all press is good press, I’m not sure I agree with that. Maybe it felt like we had to something to our fans. Fuck, I couldn’t tell you. We were so spread apart, I don’t know. Maybe we were trying to set the record straight and be a little bit more honest and let people know what was going on. I don’t know.”

You can read the full interview with Joe Perry in the brand new issue of Classic Rock, featuring Guns N’ Roses on the cover. Order it online now and have it delivered straight to your door.

Joe Perry in Classic Rock

(Image credit: Future)

Classic Rock 315, with Guns N' Roses on the cover

(Image credit: Future)
Classic Rock

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