Guide to essential Page, Beck and Clapton by Joe Perry
Young, hip and loud!
Your guide to essential Page, Beck and Clapton
By Aerosmith’s guitar slinger Joe Perry
I was 16, 17 when I first heard Page, Beck and Clapton. It was 1966-67 and they were my education. There was this pop thing going on, with The Beatles and the British Invasion, and Jimmy, Jeff and Eric were responding to that by doing something different. They were taking the catalyst of American blues and twisting it. It was young, hip, loud, exciting, sexy music. To a kid like me, from the suburbs, with one foot in the woods and one in the back door, it was incredible. It was all I wanted to listen to.
Of course, it’s impossible to talk about all these guys without talking Hendrix and Peter Green. Peter and Jimi were in that stew with page and Beck and Clapton. That later 60’s London scene was like Paris in the 20’s for writers. The main players all congregated and gave each other feedback. They each had their own take on it.
Clapton: The Blues Purist!
The first Yardbirds album [Five Live Yardbirds] was the equivalent to lesson one. Like every kid, I loved The Beatles, George Harrison played these little, short solos that fit perfectly with the music. But when I heard that first Yardbirds record, that was a turning point for me. I tried to learn the basic licks off that record and I still can’t do it. I’m kind a glad I couldn’t copy it all because I developed my own style as I chased those sounds. It was a blessing.
One of the first records I bought was John Mayall’s Blues Breakers album, and the way Eric played guitar just spoke to me. Eric was the blues purist, and he’s such a fiery soloist. His guitar playing with John Mayall and then Cream was ground breaking. He didn’t have to do anything after that, other than follow his own muse.
Beck: The Guitar Mozart!
With Jeff, you just know that he didn’t want to sound like anybody else. He’s always pushing the edge, going into jazz and beyond. I always felt that if Jeff played a lick that sounded like somebody else, he’d throw it away.
I’m still astounded that the sound from his amplifier comes from his hands. A lot of guitar players will tell you the same thing, that Jeff is head, hand and feet above the others. Back in the 70’s, Jeff got up with us and played Train Kept A Rollin’. That was amazing but, of course, I was intimidated – he’s a fucking genius! He’s a Mozart, he’s that brilliant! The fist two Beck albums (Truth and Beck-ola) are seminal.
Page: The Visionary!
Jimmy has the greatest influence of the three because of Led Zeppelin: a pure inspiration for this thing called hard rock. Jimmy wasn’t just an amazing guitar player, he was an incredible producer and he wrote all these great songs. When he was cutting the first Zeppelin album, he knew what he wanted. His vision was so much more global than Jeff and Eric’s. Playing guitar was just one part of the puzzle for Jimmy. His production values, the way he put Bonzo in the spotlight, became a touchstone for rock music.
I have to have the fist four Led Zeppelin albums (first one pictured left) on me at all times. I have two iPods and those four albums are on both, in case one breaks. Jimmy and I, we meet up a couple of times every year. We talk about life, kids, all kinds of things. And sometimes I’ll ask him cheesy fan questions! I’m still a fan. Always will be.
August 2004 issue of MOJO – The Music Magazine
Joe Perry was talking to Paul Elliott.