Joe Perry is the first to admit it’s not as easy to "Walk This Way” as it used to be. Aerosmith’s lead guitarist will turn 59 in September, his band will celebrate 40 years together in 2010, and, while their music has stood the test of time, four decades of rocking and rolling has rendered some physical wreckage. An injury from a stage fall 23 years ago finally necessitated the installation of an artificial knee in 2008, and Perry was back in the hospital for emergency surgery in February when infection suddenly developed around the man-made joint. "The last two, three tours, I’ve been playing on one leg that was just ready to go,” Perry said from a tour bus rolling toward Houston. "And when I saw the MRI of what my knee looked like, I was in shock. And the doctors said, ‘Listen, you’ve gotta either change your lifestyle and what you do for a living or you gotta get a knee replacement.’” Fortunately for millions of Aerosmith fans, Perry opted for a new knee. But just as the band launched its 2009 "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith Presents Aerosmith Tour,” singer Steven Tyler injured his leg while performing June 28 in Uncasville, Conn., causing the postponement of seven shows. This was after recording of a new studio album was delayed when Tyler came down with pneumonia. Meanwhile, bassist Tom Hamilton is sitting out several dates while he recuperates from "noninvasive surgery,” according to the band’s Web site, and guitarist Brad Whitford only recently rejoined the band on the road after recovering from a head injury. "It’s been bizarre,” Perry said. "During rehearsals, Brad hit his head and had to have emergency surgery. I don’t know what it is with guitar players getting hit on the head, but he’s back, and he’s got a lot of pent-up playing to do.” Recording is on hold until fall, but Perry said the "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” video franchise is not only reaching a new generation of fans but outselling the band’s last two studio albums. "Actually, we’ve sold three times as many games as we did on the last couple of Aerosmith records,” he said. "There are a lot of songs on the game that are studio cuts that don’t get played on the radio, so it’s almost like havin’ a new record out there.” Meanwhile, Perry has found time amid all the delays and medical detours to assemble a new 2009 version of the Joe Perry Project and complete an album of his own, due out in September. "We bent over backwards to get that late-’60s sound,” he said of his still untitled solo disc. "I mean people are always comin’ up and sayin’, ‘Why don’t you make a record that sounds like your first records?’ And I’ve always tried to figure out what that is, you know? Is it the actual choruses, the lyrics, the tempos? What is it?” Perry said vintage gear was used on the record whenever possible, with an old-fashioned stereo mix that pushes drums out of one channel, vocals out of the other, and bass and guitar straight down the middle. "We really tried to capture that on this solo record,” he said. Meanwhile, he said the Aerosmith tour, with ZZ Top as special guests, is "really starting to pick up steam,” and Perry and company may be throwing in a couple of new tunes from the band’s yet-to-be-recorded album. And he said his new knee is holding up just fine. "Normally you don’t put a pin in people my age because you’re gonna have to have it done again because you wear it out,” he said. "And I have every intention of wearing it out. It’s really a physical thing that we do up there, and it’ll take its toll. But that’s what I do.”Comments
Aerosmith with ZZ Top
Where: BOK Center, Tulsa. When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets: $129.50, $89.50, $49.50 by calling (866) 726-5287, online at bokcenter.com or at the box office, off W Third Street between Denver and Frisco avenues.