Joe Perry recalls the time he accidentally stole a pedal from Jeff Beck – and gave him one of the first Klon Centaurs in return

Joe Perry (left) and Jeff Beck perform onstage
(Image credit: Neil Lupin/Redferns/Getty Images, David Wolff-Patrick/Redferns)

Aerosmith electric guitar player Joe Perry was hugely influenced by Jeff Beck, seeing at least one show on almost all of the late guitar hero's tours, and even performing onstage with him on a couple of occasions.

Perry also ended up, in an exchange that took over 30 years to complete, trading pedals with one of his biggest six-string influences, though not by his own design.

In a new interview with Total Guitar, Perry revealed that, during the band's early days, a member of Aerosmith's team, unfortunately, took advantage of an opportunity to steal some of the magic from Beck's pedalboard – literally.

"When we were just starting to make it in Aerosmith, our manager had been one of the big promoters in Boston and so we were able to get tickets and backstage passes to a Jeff Beck show," Perry said. "We had a road manager who was a great guy, but he just looked at the world a little different. 

"Backstage, I didn’t talk to Jeff then but he was using an orange Colorsound [fuzz pedal]. We’re driving home and our road manager pulls this orange Colorsound out of his jacket. He said, ‘Well, he had six of them so I just picked it up for you!’ 

"I got really pissed off," Perry went on. "I said, ‘No, we don’t do that! That is not us.’ But we were still pretty hand to mouth, and back then getting equipment going back and forth across the pond was a big deal. What was I gonna do – ship it to him?

"I had it for about three weeks and then it got stolen from me. I was actually kind of happy to see it go. I always felt bad about it."

Decades passed, with Perry and Beck occasionally crossing paths again. Though the latter guitarist obviously had the resources to replace the Colorsound (or any other stolen pedal), the unintentional theft still gnawed at Perry.

"Later on," Perry told Total Guitar, "me and Brad [Whitford, Aerosmith's rhythm guitarist] were some of the first guys to get some Klon Centaur pedals. We each had three or four of them. They’re pretty amazing, and still today they’re kind of the ’59 Les Paul of pedals. 

"I took one of my original ones and after the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame soundcheck [for Beck's all-star induction performance in 2009] I told Jeff the story and said, ‘I just want to adjust the karma here, so I want you to have this.’ I think he was pretty surprised to get it and I was really happy to give it to him. I’ve given him a few presents over the years, just to let him know I’m listening."

Perry was one of the countless guitarists who publicly paid tribute to Beck following his death on January 11.

"Jeff Beck was the Salvador Dali of guitar, to see him play was to hear the ultimate 6-string alchemist create magic in a world of its own," he wrote on Instagram. "With his passing, the world is a poorer place."

To pick up a copy of Total Guitar's full Jeff Beck tribute issue – featuring a number of other salutes to Beck from his fellow guitarists, a look back on his extraordinary career, and a comprehensive examination of his technical approach to the guitar – visit Magazines Direct.

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.

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