Aerosmith's Joe Perry on touring with ZZ Top

Guitar Hero is sponsoring this summer's Aerosmith/ZZ Top tour
Guitar Hero is sponsoring this summer's Aerosmith/ZZ Top tour

Joe Perry has a problem: In just a few weeks Aerosmith will hit the road with ZZ Top and the Boston-based guitarist has to pick a dozen or so axes to take out with him.

So what's the problem? Only that he has about 600 of them.

"It's an embarrassing dilema to have," he demurs. "My collection is certainly nice, but it does make it tough when you have to choose only a few of them."

Perry's beloved 'Billie'

Among his myriad vintage Les Pauls, Strats, Teles, Gretsches, SGs and Firebirds, one piece Perry won't have any trouble choosing is 'Billie,' so named because of the visage of Perry's wife, Billie, which adorns its body.

"'Billie' is a beautiful instrument," says Perry. "First off, it's a BB King 'Lucille' guitar. We've made a few alterations, and of course it has a stunning picture of my wife on it. She's gorgeous, the guitar is gorgeous - how can I not look good playing it?"

Touring with the Top, the new album

"We've got some really rocking songs written. It's going to be out fiercest record since back in the day" Joe Perry on the upcoming Aerosmith album

Perry is wildly anticipating the Guitar Hero-sponsored summer jaunt that will see Aerosmith teamed with ZZ Top ("They floor me every time. We're honored to be paired with them"); more than that, he's itching to get back into the studio to complete the long overdue Aerosmith album that has been years in the making.

"We made some good headway with (producer) Brendan O'Brien," he says, "but all these health issues came up - I had knee surgery, Steven (Tyler) got pneumonia. But we've got some really rocking songs written, and I'm excited. It's going to be out fiercest record since back in the day."

MusicRadar caught up with Perry on a rainy afternoon. The guitarist admitted he wasn't in the best of moods - he had a solo record to finish, and delays were keeping him up nights.

But a combination of Columbian coffee and a Montecristo No. 5 cigar had an ameliorating effect, and in the podcast below Perry held forth on the upcoming tour, his sense of sartorial style, Guitar Hero and his thoughts on classic Aerosmith albums.

Joe Perry audio interview: Download (right-click and Save As...)

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.