“We were on the fence about bringing in sidemen, but we kind of made a deal with the Devil”: Joe Perry reflects on Aerosmith using session guitarists on Get Your Wings

Perry says the band’s label was ready to drop them after the poor performance of their debut album.

Joe Perry performing live in 1976

Credit: Fin Costello/Redferns

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When Aerosmith headed to the studio to record their sophomore album Get Your Wings, guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford didn’t expect to have some of their guitar parts replaced by session players.

As the story goes, producer Jack Douglas was unhappy with some of the guitar work on the record, and so called in Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner to add some “finesse” to proceedings. Hunter’s solo on Train Kept a Rollin’ was one of the more noteworthy guitar parts to be replaced.

Now, in a cover interview in the new issue of Total Guitar, Joe Perry recalls the circumstances that led to the recruitment of session players on the 1974 album, and how he feels about having been subbed in for all these years later.

“The record label was ready to drop us after the first album [1973’s Aerosmith] wasn’t a hit,” he says. We had already struggled to get the record deal, and they were ready to drop us. You think that once you get a record deal, you’re set. But that’s just the start. The second record, man, it’s a bitch!”

He says the band’s label agreed to give them another shot, so long as they brought in producer Bob Ezrin to oversee the album’s creation.

“He was one of the top producers at the time – and I’ve gotten to know him well now – but we were under their thumb. Jack Douglas was brought in on the day-to-day stuff, but [him] and Bob would come in every couple of weeks to listen to what was going on, but he kind of handed it off to Jack.”

Perry continues: “Of course we were on the fence about bringing in sidemen to play some of the stuff, but we kind of made a deal with the Devil because we wanted out shot at a second record. Brad and I weren’t happy about it, but that’s what it was going to take to keep us on the label and keep us going, so we did what we felt we had to do.

“For better or worse, we opened that door, but that was certainly the last time. After that second record came out, they re-released Dream On, it was a hit, and suddenly we had the power. Then it was a whole different story.”

Last year, Brad Whitford remembered the moment the news was broken to him and Joe Perry that their recorded guitar tracks for Get Your Wings were going to be replaced.

“It was Jack who had the difficult task of breaking the news to Joe and me,” he explained. “And of course, that went down like a lead balloon.

“At first you fight, and you’re a little bit angry, and then you get sad to where you’re like really bummed out that you can’t do it. And the thing was that we’d done some good stuff and could play good stuff, but the tracks required some real finesse.”

Aerosmith have a string of dates planned for the remainder of 2024 and early 2025 for their Peace Out: The Farewell Tour. For a full list of dates, head to their official website.

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