As concert-going nights go, Nov. 7 was a pretty awesome one for Johnny Peralta.
The Surrey-based musician didn’t have a ticket to see his guitar hero, Tom Morello, play a sold-out show at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom, so instead he waited on a sidewalk behind the venue in hopes of having the Rage Against the Machine man autograph his guitar.
It’s not just any guitar – it’s one Peralta made himself as a replica of Morello’s famous “Arm the Homeless” axe, which Peralta plays as a member of the Rage tribute band Calm Like a Bomb.
By night’s end, Peralta had a story worth telling, and a crew member named Carl, along with Morello’s stage manager, Cheryl, helped make it happen.
At around 8:25 p.m., Peralta approached Carl and showed him his guitar. He told him he’d been working on it for six years, and that he got it down to the exact pickups and settings Morello uses.
Very impressed, Carl asked if he could take a photo of it.
“I know Tom would love to see this,” Carl told Peralta.
That photo was later posted to Morello’s Twitter account.
“This dude was seen outside the show in Vancouver last night,” Morello wrote. “He made that guitar himself. Show was sold out so of course we had to sneak him in.”
This dude was seen outside the show in Vancouver last night. He made that guitar himself. Show was sold out so of course we had to sneak him in. pic.twitter.com/JPjpGFFObR
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) November 8, 2019
With minutes to spare before Morello’s performance, Cheryl hustled Peralta past a velvet rope and inside the concert hall, and arranged to have his guitar stored at the merchandise table during the show.
Peralta was searching for friends in the audience when he again ran into Cheryl, who had his guitar in hand.
“Oh no…” she told Peralta. “This is awkward.”
Peralta asked if something was wrong, perhaps that his guitar wasn’t allowed to be kept at the merch table.
“No it’s fine there,” Cheryl told him. “It was just meant to be a surprise.”
Turns out, Morello signed the guitar, and gave him a pick, too.
Cheryl smiled and winked, then took the guitar back to the merchandise table.
Later, Cheryl was given Peralta’s phone number by the merch crew member, and about 10 minutes into Morello’s performance, Peralta received a text message from her, with a photo of Morello holding his guitar, as if to prove that he did, in fact, sign it himself.
Days later, Peralta told the story of his guitar to the Now-Leader.
“I couldn’t have picked a better person/musician/artist to emulate as he proved to be the great guy everyone claimed him to be,” Peralta said. “From his tour manager Cheryl, to his road crew member Carl, to his long time guitar tech, ‘Slim,’ They were all amazing people and were all about the fans first. If I didn’t have enough reason to idolize him before, then I sure as hell do now.”
Peralta said it all felt “very surreal,” and that he planned to clear-coat his guitar to preserve Morello’s autograph.
Another account of Peralta’s night was posted to the metalheadzone.com website.