Joe Perry Project
Fame is fleeting but YouTube is forever. German vocalist Hagen Grohe was discovered on YouTube by Joe Perry's wife. And when the guitarist contacted him about singing with the Joe Perry Project, Grohe initially thought it was a joke. Not so, Grohe's vocals were heard on the band's '09 album "Have Guitar, Will Travel" (a play on the '50s TV Western "Have Gun, Will Travel"). But the Joe Perry Project's history goes back nearly three-decades.
The Joe Perry Project was launched in '79 just prior to Perry's departure from Aerosmith. Aside from Perry, the initial line-up had singer Ralph Morman, bassist David Hull and drummer Ronnie Stewart. They issued the band's '80 debut, "Let The Music Do The Talking," which sold a solid quarter-million copies in the U.S. But Morman was fired and replaced by Joey Mala who managed to make it through a supporting tour before singer/rhythm guitarist Charlie Farren took over.
'81 sophomore album "I've Got The Rock n' Rolls Again" stiffed. There were a couple reasons. First, the band's label, Columbia, failed to promote the album, possibly due to Perry's increasing drug problems. The upshot was Perry fired the band.
A new line-up on a new label (MCA) produced '83's "Once A Rocker, Always A Rocker" but the result was the same. No label promotion - no sales. About the only noteworthy thing was the addition of then fellow ex-Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford to the touring line-up. But Perry's luck changed. He cleaned-up and rejoined Aerosmith for the band's second run at success. That, for the time being, put an end to the Joe Perry Project.
With Aerosmith going through its typical fits and gyrations - would vocalist Steven Tyler leave or stay? - Perry reformed the Project. Hull returned and was joined by guitarist/keyboardist Paul Santo, drummer Marty Richards and the aforementioned Grohe.
On 11/10/09, Tyler joined the Joe Perry Project on stage at the Fillmore New York to sing the Aerosmith classic "Walk This Way." Tyler's appearance with Perry was intended to put to rest rumors regarding his future with Aerosmith - despite confirmation from Perry, that Tyler had quit the band. In the end, it made a murky situation muddier and just came off as bizarre.
Joe Perry Project Albums:
1980 Let The Music Do the Talking
1981 I've Got The Rock 'n' Rolls Again
1983 Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker
1999 The Music Still Does The Talking: The Best Of The Joe Perry Project
Joe Perry Solo Albums:
2005 Joe Perry
2009 Have Guitar, Will Travel
2014 Joe Perry's Merry Christmas
There is a great story about the Jeff Beck Group. The band played their debut U.S. concert at New York's Fillmore East.
After the show a label rep, who hadn't met the band, went backstage and walked straight up to Rod Stewart. "Hey Jeff," he said, shaking Stewart's hand. "You're a great singer and you've got a pretty good guitar player too." And that's the dilemma facing legendary guitarists whether it's Jeff Beck or Joe Perry. Sales of a guitar instrumental album are generally limited to family members and other musicians. So a guitarist, who wants to make a dent, has to find a singer.
Perry plays the hell out the guitar and his band does its job. The glaring weakness is the singer. They are nowhere near Perry's level.
Grohe is the best of the lot and on "Have Guitar, Will Travel" he notches up "Somebody's Gonna Get (Their Head Kicked In Tonight)" which sounds like Elvis doing '70s Aerosmith-like Hard Rock. Grohe's vocals get another reverb treatment on "No Surprises" and the band takes a basic Rock tune, "Scare The Cat," and propels it way beyond the numbers. Still though, Perry's guitar is the star.