When Joe Perry Realized Prince Was ‘Really a Guitar Player’
The Aerosmith guitarist met the Purple Rain star for the first time after watching him perform at an arena in Los Angeles, around the time his career was "starting to peak."
"He had just put on an amazing show," Perry said in a recent exclusive interview with UCR, "and I remember there was a bunch of music people backstage, I remember Bruce Springsteen was there, and I talked with him for a while, I hadn’t seen him for forever."
“And then finally Prince came out, he looked beat, totally worn out. After a show like that, I’m sure the last thing you wanted to do was go out and mix with the after-show thing. But there were a lot of people, and this was early on in his career. And we sat and talked for a couple of minutes."
But while Perry praised Prince for being a "stunning performer," he admitted that he didn't initially view him as a fellow guitar player. It wasn't until Aerosmith and Prince both performed at the 1994 MTV Europe Music Awards in Berlin that Perry fully recognized his six-string talent.
"He had a really cool setup on stage, I think it was a Mesa Boogie head with three 2x12, kind of like parked together like a pyramid," Perry said, remembering how Prince began the show with a 45-minute guitar solo. "Everybody could hear it on the stage in the house, it was really unique, I'd never seen anybody set it up like that ... his tone was spot on. That's when I first realized he was really a guitar player."
Perry spoke with Prince again that evening, though by then, Prince, who was going by the love symbol as his name, was even harder to access backstage.
"I wanted to go back and say hi to him, of course, by then he was surrounded by 300-pound guys, you just didn’t get close to him at that point," Perry said, who eventually found a few moments with Prince at his trailer. "He was so private if he's not on stage ... He could rip it up with the best of them."
Watch Prince Perform 'Peach' at the 1994 MTV Europe Music Awards