What do Joe Perry, Slash, and Eric Johnson have in common?
He's a little fuzzy on the details around when he acquired it — and a little fuzzy on the details around when he became separated from it — but Joe Perry knows exactly where his 1959 Les Paul is now.
He thinks he picked it up in a "midnight swap" and knows it was with him in the studio and on stage throughout the late '70s, but later parted with it around the time of his divorce in 1982. Either way, fellow Boston rocker, Billy Loosigian recognized it sitting in East Coast Guitars, and picked it up for $4,200 and a Firebird I trade-in.
A few years later, Loosigian sold it to jazz guitarist Gerry Beaudoin, but, just a few days after that, he saw the guitar at a guitar show in the hands of Eric Johnson.
When Aerosmith got back together for the Back in the Saddle tour, Perry says Johnson contacted him through mutual friends, and offered to sell the guitar back to him, but Perry couldn't afford it at the time.
By the time Perry could afford it, he'd lost track of it again.
“I decided to track it down, so I started to make some calls, and some friends started looking for it, too," said Perry. "I was talking to Brad [Whitford] about it, and the next day he walks into the studio and says, ‘I know where your guitar is.’ He shows me an issue of Guitar Player magazine, and there’s a story on Slash’s guitars, and right in the middle was a picture of the guitar.”
His elation at finding it was short-lived when he realized Slash wasn't looking to sell it.
"Oh man, please don't ask me that," Slash reportedly replied.
Perry understood and later said, "I mean if I had a chance to get hold of the white Strat Jeff Beck played on Wired, I'd have a hard time letting go of it!"
Over the years and gigs together, Perry didn't miss an opportunity to bring it up, but Slash had already made up his mind about the guitar.
Thirty-five years after they were separated, as Perry was about to take the stage with Cheap Trick at his 50th birthday party, he was handed the guitar and the message: "Slash says, 'Happy Birthday.'"