Joe Perry on the Yardbirds’ twin-guitar attack: ‘That was proto-Aerosmith’

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Aerosmith’s familiar twin-guitar attack was borne out of a moment of awe for a young Joe Perry — though it came during a 1966 murder-mystery film, rather than a concert.

Blow-Up memorably featured a club scene with the Yardbirds performing “Stroll On,” this minor element of a Michelangelo Antonioni script in which a photographer believes he’s accidentally captured a grisly crime on film. It was no small thing, however, for Joe Perry as both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck shared guitar duties — and in a way Perry had never imagined before.

The scene occupies a promiment spot in Joe Perry’s new autobiography Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith, too. In some ways, it’s a foundation for all of the things that came later.

“When I saw The Yardbirds in the movie ‘Blow-Up’,” Perry says in a new interview with Technology Tells, “I talk about it in the book, I didn’t really know it then, but that was proto-Aerosmith: two guitar players who can pretty much play with that kind of energy and that kind of creativity coming from two different schools. There just weren’t any bands around like that. There were bands with two guitar players, three guitar players, but they never played with that kind of on-the-edge feeling.”

Four years later, Perry had co-founded Aerosmith with Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler, Joey Kramer and Ray Tabano — the latter of whom was replaced a year in by guitarist Brad Whitford. Their band’s next-gen version on the Yardbirds’ legendary double-dose of axe-playing brilliance was complete.

Is it any surprise that Aerosmith released a new take on “Train Kept A-Rollin'” in 1974, once again following in the footsteps of the Yardbirds, who’d covered the Tiny Bradshaw song in 1965?

“I looked at this one as a two-guitar band that isn’t afraid to let one guy cut loose and the other guy lay down the bed,” Perry adds, “or both of us play lead at the same time or whatever. But it always seems to work and there are very few times we’ll actually talk about what we’re going to play. I might just ask him [Whitford], ‘You playing a Strat on this song or what?’ We’re even past that at this point. It’s really an intuitive thing.”

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  • michael james

    That was a great thing about the Allman Brothers, too. Daune and Dicky on those 2 guitars — some great stuff.

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