Joe Perry

Aerosmith guitar hero Joe Perry had a busy 2014, touring with the band, recording a Christmas EP and releasing an autobiography, Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith, that made The New York Times best-seller list.

This year promises to be another sprint for the 64-year-old Gibson Les Paul playing legend, with an Aerosmith tour slated for summer and more. Although Perry had a plethora of guitars, including the 1959 ‘Burst once also owned by Slash that Gibson recreated in 2013 as the Joe Perry 1959 Les Paul, we recently asked him if there’s a Holy Grail instrument that’s eluded his grasp. His reply: a 1968 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, like the one he owned when Aerosmith recorded their 1973 debut album Aerosmith, featuring their breakthrough hit “Dream On.” Take it away Joe:

“I’m still looking for a ’68 Goldtop. The first Les Paul I bought was a ’68 Gold top. Now that’s a sought-after Les Paul, but I only paid $300 or $400 for it at the time. I’d love to have that guitar back — especially looking like it did before I scraped the gold off of it. I’ve got a couple of Goldtops that are close, but that particular guitar is the one. One of the rumors is that after they stopped making Les Pauls in ’60 or ’61, and then started making them again in ’68, Gibson had a lot of parts left over. If that’s true, a lot of those pieces of wood were just sitting around the factory and got used. And the pickups were great.

“I think the first Goldtop I got had mini-humbuckers, but I’ve seen pictures where I’m playing one with P-90s, so I’m not sure which Goldtop was the very first one I had. I was trading guitars a lot back then. We called them ‘midnight trades.’ If somebody had a guitar I liked at the moment, I would just trade — that and a bag of pot. One night we played a show with the New York Dolls, and I remember trading Johnny Thunders a guitar for a two-pickup TV model with P-90s. I loved the way it sounded, and I had something he liked, so we just swapped. That went on all the time.”

Perry’s not entirely sure the ’68 Goldtop he traded or sold, and now pines for, was the instrument he played on “Dream On,” as is widely thought. But he says, “I would guess that was it. Somehow a lot of our more outstanding songs featured my Les Pauls.”

Perry says one of his favorite stage guitars currently is the “relic version of my ’59 Les Paul that Gibson just did. I’m not taking my real ’59 out of the house anymore. Actually, I’ve put all my really nice guitars in a vault.”