“I started playing this riff and fleshed it out right there at soundcheck”: Joe Perry on the origins of the riff of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way
“That was an interesting song because many of our songs’ melodies come from the guitar riffs, but not so much with Walk This Way.”
Credit: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns
While it’s certainly arguable, the riff of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way could well be one of the most iconic of all time. But as guitarist Joe Perry recalls in a new interview with Guitar World, the idea came to him randomly one day while soundchecking.
He remembers using his “beat up” sunburst Strat when the riff came to him. “I remember being at soundcheck in Hawaii, and I was thinking about the stuff I was listening to, which was a lot of things by the Meters, James Brown and that type of stuff,” he says.
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“I loved that stuff because it gave me the feel of where rock music came from, you know? Anyway, we’re at soundcheck, and I told Joey [Kramer] to lay something down that was kinda like what I was listening to, and I started playing this riff and fleshed it out right there at soundcheck.”
He confesses that he wasn’t instantly sure that it would become the hit it eventually did, but says he “liked it” right away.
“And so, when we brought it to New York during the sessions for Toys in the Attic, Steven and I started working on it together,” he continues. “He added some lyrics that fit the melody, along with a little bit of blood and sweat, and it all worked out. That was an interesting song because many of our songs’ melodies come from the guitar riffs, but not so much with Walk This Way.”
Perry goes on to confirm that he used the same sunburst Strat he used to come up with the riff for recording the track’s solo.
“I distinctly remember just kind of standing there, probably next to either a ’50s, ’60s or early ’70s Marshall – it was so long ago, it’s hard to remember – and I came up with the solo. I had some kind of distortion pedal, maybe a [Maestro] Fuzz Tone, and I just stood in front of the amp with the Strat and recorded the solo.”
In other news, last month, Brad Whitford recalled the time Aerosmith’s producer replaced him and Joe Perry with session guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, who added some “finesse” to the band’s second album Get Your Wings.