cover image Rocks: My Life in and out of Aerosmith

Rocks: My Life in and out of Aerosmith

Joe Perry, with David Ritz. Simon & Schuster, $27.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-4767-1454-7

In this rock and roll memoir, Aerosmith’s lead guitarist tells the old story of the rise and fall of a guitar hero, although in Perry’s case, the star rises again. Born in a Massachusetts suburb in the 1950s, Perry struggled with a learning disability. Chuck Berry gave him a role model; the guitar, an outlet. To the dismay of his professional parents, he dropped out of high school and knocked around in various bands until he formed Aerosmith. The band became a major 1970s hard-rock group before drug abuse, bickering, and bad management tore it apart. Yet after the breakup, a clean and sober Aerosmith rose again, leaving its mark on the MTV generation. Perry provides evocative portraits of his very American youth wandering through the woods with a BB rifle and water-skiing on Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire, and his stint as a factory worker for Draper Industries. The years of rock and roll notoriety are standard issue—drugs, partying, bad decisions—although the story shines on those rare occasions when Perry details the nuts and bolts of song making. Later chapters covering the manipulations of a Svengali-like producer have their own allure, as do the discussions of the complexity and expense of producing hits. Legal issues and diplomacy might moderate the narrative, but Perry’s book will strike gold with every Aerosmith fan. (Oct.)