“It was 1987, and I hanging out at a hotel pool in Southern California with [bassist] Pete Way, talking about joining his band Waysted,” says Perry, who has done a ton of cool gigs over the years, including being the first guitarist in Quiet Riot after Randy Rhoads, following Yngwie in Steeler, playing alongside Billy Sheehan in Talas, and doing keyboard work with Aerosmith. “Michael Schenker was staying at the same hotel, and he came over and said, ‘Mitch, I’m looking for a guitar player/keyboard player.’ I said, ‘That’s killer, but I don’t want to play rhythm all night.’ He said, ‘No. You play a different style than me,’ as he mimicked the overhand tapping stuff I picked up when I was playing with Billy Sheehan. ‘It might be a really good thing, because a lot of people like that style and I don’t do it.’
Top: Mitch Perry today. Above: Back in the day with Michael Schenker.
“So I thought, ‘Wow, that makes it way more interesting.’ Then he says, ‘You know, I have a solo I’m not too happy with right now. Do you want to try playing on it?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ He said, ‘Go get your guitar. You can play through my amp.’
“I get out of the pool—wet shorts and everything—get my Guild Blade Runner, and we go to Sound City Studios. Andy Johns is behind the board. Nobody in the band knows of this plan, because it literally came together in about five seconds in Michael’s head.
“Michael says, ‘Hey everybody, this is Mitch. He’s going to put his solo on the second half of ‘Gimme Your Love.’’ They all look at him like he’s out of his mind. But what Michael wants, Michael gets. Fortunately for me, it went exceedingly well, and you can hear the results on the record. Michael had the first half of the solo already laid down, so I knew what I was spring-boarding off of. His part was a sweet melodic thing, so I wanted to come in with something a little over the top—a really weird tapping thing. I was so happy that it fit perfectly.
“Funnily enough, that tune became the first single, so not only did I get to play the solo, but it got blasted all over MTV. About a week after that session, I was officially the new member. My playing underwent a big change while I was in that band, and that was totally due to playing right next to Michael. It was inspiring to be able to watch him do what he does up close every day.”