The story behind one of Joe Perry’s most iconic guitars starts in a Somerville studio

“He opened the case, and this guitar — I mean, it was hard to tell it was a guitar.”

Joe Perry guitar
Joe Perry with his Guild X-100 Bladerunner guitar. —Zack Whitford

The number of guitars in Joe Perry’s collection sits somewhere between 300 and 400, by his estimation. The lead guitarist for Aerosmith collects instruments from all over the world, including exotic guitars from countries like Italy and Japan that date back to the 1940s.

But when the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York reached out to Perry for a guitar to include in its exhibit, “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll,” Perry chose one that he played for the first time at a rehearsal studio in Somerville.

Perry and the band were working on songs for their 1987 album “Permanent Vacation” when a friend who worked for Guild Guitars stopped by the studio. Perry’s first-ever electric guitar from back in the late ‘60s was from Guild, so he decided to see what his friend had brought.

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“He opened the case, and this guitar — I mean, it was hard to tell it was a guitar,” Perry said. “The only thing that even made it look like a guitar was that it had frets and strings.”

It was the black Guild X-100 Bladerunner guitar, and its “out-on-a-limb” design made Perry immediately add it to his collection.

While Perry only played the guitar occasionally, when it came time for Aerosmith to film their iconic “Walk This Way” music video with Run-DMC, Perry knew he wanted the Bladerunner.

“I wanted to try something different than the standard Les Pauls and Fenders,” Perry said. “And it was a really eye-catching guitar.”

The guitar’s inclusion in the Met exhibit, which opened earlier this spring and will move to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland this November, is thanks both to its sleek look and the cultural significance of the “Walk This Way” video. At the time, MTV played few rap music videos, but Run-DMC and Aerosmith’s collaboration was a massive hit.

“When we filmed the video we didn’t realize how important it was going to be,” Perry said. “We just saw it as a chance to do something different and we had a lot of fun working with the guys.”