When Slash first saw Joe Perry’s 1959 Les Paul in the gatefold of Aerosmith’s 1978 Live! Bootleg album, it was lust at first sight.
“That was the coolest guitar I had ever seen,” Slash says.
Years later, after finding success with Guns N’ Roses, Slash was able to fulfill his boyhood dreams by purchasing the guitar. As Perry himself relates in his 2014 autobiography, Rocks, he had parted ways with the Les Paul in 1980 when money became tight. Over the next years, it ended up with Eric Johnson, who recognized it as Perry’s guitar and offered to sell it back to him for a mere $8,000. Unfortunately, that was more than Perry could afford. Johnson eventually sold the guitar, and its whereabouts were unknown.
One day, Perry’s bandmate Brad Whitford saw Slash posing with the guitar in Guitar Player magazine and brought the photo to Perry’s attention. Thus began Perry’s all-out effort to get the guitar back.
Slash (with Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains riding shot-gun) tells the tale behind the guitar in the new guitar documentary, Turn It Up!, and we’ve provided the relevant clip below. Take a look.
(As some of you may know, Joe related this story on Conan O’Brien’s show a few years back. We’ve included that clip below as well.)
Presented by Street Entertainment, Turn It Up! features a host of guitarists—including Les Paul, B.B. King, Steve Lukather, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Jerry Cantrell, Paul Stanley, John 5, Robby Krieger, Nancy Wilson, Steve Howe and Dave Mason—who tell stories about their relationship to the instrument. Shot in high-definition, the film includes performances and in-depth interviews, with narration by actor and musician Kevin Bacon.
The set includes a bonus disc featuring extended interviews with the guitarists, mini-documentaries on RKS Guitars and Seymour Duncan, Robby Krieger improvising and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s performance from the film S.S. United States: Lady in Waiting, a documentary about the famed U.S. ocean liner.