"Rocks" by Aerosmith's Joe Perry

It seems to be a case of Rashomon —where people give different accounts of the same event. Here, it's just two people: Joe Perry and Steven Tyler, the guitarist and the frontman in Aerosmith, the rock band that started in New Hampshire and quickly climbed onto the world stage. They're still there, four decades later.

Joe Perry just released his take on the time he's spent with (and not with) the band, "Rocks" [Simon & Schuster, $27.99]. Yes, it's a lot of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, like it is in Steven Tyler's "Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?" But the narrative is strikingly different. Tyler's is like an acid trip (not that I would know), with major events barely discernible.

Perry's is a much more sober rendering, with emphasis on different aspects and a clearer narrative line.

It starts on Lake Sunapee, where both spent summers, one day discovering their common interest in music and forming what Perry calls "a baby band." That baby, of course, grew into "American's Greatest Rock and Roll Band" with international renown. While that journey is fascinating, it is the relationship between Perry and Tyler that is riveting.

"The brother I never had" — that's how Perry describes Tyler, but dealing with someone who says he lives "on the tail of a comet" can test any brother's love. And it does.

The Rashomon effect appears again and again as Perry recounts well-known conflicts between the two. It appears in his leaving the band and in his return.

Perry is convinced their "contrary energies" gave Aerosmith the edge that catapulted it to success. And today, after everything, he says of Tyler: "There's a guy in there that I still love."

To get a full sense of the Aerosmith experience, buy both books and grab the comet's tail. It'll be a great ride.

Categories: Book Reviews