Aerosmith - Biography

Aerosmith

 Aerosmith is a prominent American rock band often regarded as "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band". Although they are known as "the bad boys from Boston", none of the members are actually from the city. Three of the members, Steven Tallarico (Tyler), Joe Perry, and Tom Hamilton had originally met in Sunapee, New Hampshire in the late '60s, but had not yet formed a band together. Tyler was from Yonkers, New York, Perry from Hopedale, Massachusetts, and Hamilton from New London, New Hampshire. In 1970, the three decided to form a band and that Boston, Massachusetts would be the ideal venue.

Guitarist Brad Whitford and drummer Joey Kramer rounded out the lineup, and the band released their eponymous debut album in 1973. The band produced a string of ground-breaking hard rock albums and enjoyed major popularity throughout the 1970s, but their serious substance abuse and drug addictions contributed to their decline (The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia reportedly said they were "the druggiest bunch of guys I've ever seen"), and almost relegated them to the annals of history. Joe Perry and Brad Whitford left the group and the period from 1979-1984 was a dark one for the band, which carried on with replacements. However, in 1984, chiefly due to the tireless efforts of Joe Perry's then manager, Tim Collins, to reform the original band, Aerosmith was born again. Despite the insistence of his own client Perry that it was unthinkable, Collins succeeded in helping the band resolve old differences and to ultimately overcome their addictions. Since then, Aerosmith has remained sober for nearly 20 years, and has achieved a level of sustained success that has well eclipsed their 1970s heyday.

Aerosmith, who have been performing as the original lineup for the past 22 years, have sold 140 million albums worldwide, and 66.5 million albums in the United States alone, making them the 2nd bestselling American rock band, second only to The Eagles. The band have scored twenty-one Top 40 hits, have won four Grammy awards, and continue to tour relentlessly. Their musical evolution over the years has made them major innovators in American hard rock, heavy metal, pop, glam, blues, and R&B, and has inspired legions of rock artists that came after them. Their numerous contributions to other forms of media have made them pop culture icons. The band has a loyal fanbase numbering over 1 million worldwide, known as the Blue Army, that has equally spanned the last three generations. Aerosmith's longevity, durability, and adaptability have allowed them to sustain a high level of popularity and acclaim, for the better part of the 36 years they have been active.

History

Joe Perry and Tom Hamilton moved to Boston in September of 1970. There they met Joey Kramer, who was, coincidentally, from Yonkers, New York, and also knew Steven Tallarico (soon to be Tyler). Shortly after meeting and after hearing Perry and Hamilton play, Kramer agreed to join the band they were forming, with the understanding that Tyler, whom he'd always hoped one day to play with, would be the Lead Vocalist. Steven Tyler then joined them in Boston in October of 1970 and Aerosmith was born. The five original members were: Steven Tyler (Vocals), Joe Perry (Lead Guitar), Tom Hamilton (Bass), Joey Kramer (Drums), and Ray Tabano (Rhythm Guitar). It wouldn't be until the summer of 1971 that Ray Tabano was replaced by Brad Whitford of Reading, Massachusetts on guitar, and that Aerosmith would be complete. Other than a period from July 1979 to April 1984, this is the line-up that is still Aerosmith today.

1960s

Steven Tyler, who was to become Aerosmith's lead singer, was in the following list of bands: the Vic Tallarico Orchestra (as a drummer during the summers of 1964-66 in Sunapee, NH); The Strangers (drummer/vocalist 1964-65); The Strangeurs (vocals 1966); a band called Chain Reaction (vocals 1966-68) (not to be confused with Chain Reaction that formed in 1976 with future members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), who recorded a single in 1966 (partly available on Aerosmith's 1991 box release Pandora's Box); The Chain (drummer/vocals 1968-69); Fox Chase (drummer/vocals 1969-70); William Proud (drummer/vocals summer 1970). In 1969, Tyler met Joe Perry, who was at the time playing in a band called the Jam Band with bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer David "Pudge" Scott, while Perry was washing dishes at the Anchorage in Sunapee Harbor, NH. This meeting eventually led to the formation of Aerosmith.

1970s

The original line-up included Steven Tyler (lead vocals), Joe Perry (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass guitar), Joey Kramer (drums), and Ray Tabano (rhythm guitar). Tyler, who was originally a drummer and singer, adamantly refused to play drums, insisting he would only be in the band if he could be the frontman and lead vocalist. This led to the recruitment of Joey Kramer, a Berklee College of Music student, who quit school to join the band. Brad Whitford, an educated and highly skilled guitarist, who also attended the Berklee School of Music and formerly of the band Earth Inc., would replace Tabano in 1971. After some local success doing live shows, Aerosmith signed with Columbia Records in 1972 and issued a debut album, Aerosmith in 1973 that included a minor hit single, "Dream On". All but one song on the album was released as a single. After constant touring, the band released Get Your Wings (1974), which did quite well on the charts and produced the rock radio hits "Same Old Song and Dance" and "Train Kept A-Rollin'", as well as fan favorites like "Lord of the Thighs" and "Seasons of Wither".

It was 1975's Toys in the Attic, however, that established Aerosmith as international stars. Originally derided as Rolling Stones knockoffs, Toys in the Attic showed that Aerosmith was a talented band in their own right. Part heavy metal, part glam rock, and part punk music, Toys in the Attic was an immediate success, starting with the single "Sweet Emotion", then a successful re-release of "Dream On", and a new song from the album, "Walk This Way". "Toys in the Attic" and "Big Ten Inch Record" were also rock radio staples. Both of the band's previous albums re-charted. Aerosmith's next album, 1976's Rocks, went platinum swiftly and featured two FM hits, "Back in the Saddle" and "Last Child", as well as the ballad "Home Tonight." Both Toys in the Attic and Rocks are regarded to this day as among the greatest albums ever made, especially in the hard rock genre, appearing on such lists as Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums, and cited by members of Guns N' Roses, Metallica, and Mötley Crüe as having large influences on their music. Toys in the Attic currently stands as the band's second bestselling U.S. studio album, with 8,000,000 copies sold to date.

Soon after Rocks was released, the band began to tour heavily, playing to several large stadiums and rock festivals, and becoming kingpins of American arena rock. The next album, Draw the Line, was not as successful or as critically acclaimed as their two previous efforts, although the title track proved to be a minor hit (and is still a live staple), and "Kings and Queens" also experienced some success. While continuing to tour and record into the late 1970s, Aerosmith acted in the movie version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and survived the critical and financial debacle unscathed. Their cover of the Beatles hit "Come Together" remains a rock radio staple. The live release Live Bootleg, originally released as a double album, was put out in 1978 and captured the band's rawness during the heyday of the Draw the Line tour. However, as the 1970s came to a close, the band's popularity waned and drug abuse and the fast-paced life of touring and recording began affecting their output. Just after the recording of their sixth studio album, 1979's Night in the Ruts, Joe Perry left the band and formed The Joe Perry Project. Perry was replaced first by longtime band friend and songwriter Richie Supa and then by guitarist Jimmy Crespo (formerly of the band Flame). Night in the Ruts was less successful than Draw the Line and quickly fell off the charts, its only single being the cover of the Shangri-Las "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)", which fizzled out at #67.

1980s

Aerosmith released its mammoth-selling Greatest Hits album in 1980 and in 1981 the band suffered another loss with the departure of Brad Whitford. After recording guitar parts for the song "Lightning Strikes", Whitford was replaced by Rick Dufay and the band recorded their seventh album Rock in a Hard Place in 1982. The album was considered a commercial failure, only going gold, and failing to produce a hit single. The tour for Rock in a Hard Place is notable for Steven Tyler collapsing onstage during a 1983 performance.

On Valentine's Day 1984, Perry and Whitford saw Aerosmith perform. They were officially re-inducted into the ranks of Aerosmith once more in April of that year. Steven Tyler recalls, "You should have felt the buzz the moment all five of us got together in the same room for the first time again. We all started laughin'—it was like the five years had never passed. We knew we'd made the right move."

Aerosmith embarked on a lucrative reunion tour entitled "Back in the Saddle" in 1984, which produced the live album Classics Live II. Their problems still not behind them, the group was signed to Geffen Records and began working on a comeback.

Despite the band signing on to a new record company, Columbia continued to reap the benefits of Aerosmith's comeback, releasing the live companion albums Classics Live I and II and the B-sides collection Gems throughout the 1980s.

1985 saw the release of Done with Mirrors, their first studio album with Geffen and their first album since the much-publicized reunion. It fared relatively well commercially, but it did not produce a hit single or generate much buzz outside the immediate confines of rock radio. By the time the record was released, Tyler and Perry had exited drug rehabilitation. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry appeared on Run D.M.C.'s massively successful cover of "Walk This Way", a track blending rock and roll and hip hop that not only cemented rap into the mainstream of American popular music, but also began Aerosmith's comeback.

The group's next release was Permanent Vacation (1987), which included the hits "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)," "Rag Doll," and "Angel." Permanent Vacation was a major hit for the band, becoming their bestselling album in over a decade (selling 5 million copies in the U.S.), and having all three singles reach the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. The group went on a subsequent tour with Guns N' Roses, which was intense at times due to Aerosmith's new struggle to stay clean amidst GN'Rs rampant drug use and keep cool despite GN'R's rise to fame.

Their next album was received even better: Pump (1989) featured three Top Ten singles: "Janie's Got a Gun," "What it Takes," and "Love in an Elevator," as well as "The Other Side," reestablishing Aerosmith as a serious musical force. Pump was a critical and commercial success, selling 7 million copies, and earning the band their first Grammy win ever, for "Janie's Got a Gun." The recording process for Pump was documented in the video the The Making of Pump, which has since been re-released as a DVD. Despite certain elements of their sound and style being fashioned at this time with the hair metal genre, the band was able to maintain their own musical innovation and gritty style and outlast and outsell almost every other rock act.

1990s

The band finished up the Pump tour in 1990 and released a box set Pandora's Box in 1991. The band took a brief break and began recording their follow-up to Pump in 1992. Despite significant shifts in mainstream music at the beginning of the 1990s, the band's 1993 follow-up to Pump, Get a Grip, was just as successful commercially, becoming their first album to debut at #1 and racking up sales of 7 million copies in just 2 years. The first singles were the hard rocking "Livin' on the Edge" and "Eat the Rich". Though many critics were unimpressed by the focus on the subsequent interchangeable power-ballads in promoting the album, all three ("Cryin", "Crazy" and "Amazing") proved to be huge successes on radio and MTV. The music videos featured then up-and-coming actress Alicia Silverstone; her provocative performances earned her the title of "the Aerosmith chick" for the first half of the decade. Steven Tyler's daughter Liv Tyler was also featured in the "Crazy" video. Get a Grip would go on to sell more than 11 million copies in the U.S. alone with over 20 million copies worldwide.

Much of the mainstream success of Get a Grip involves how the band changed their sound and made it more commercially accessible. However, this led to constant accusations of selling out that would continue throughout the 90s.

In addition to their grueling 18 month world tour in support of Get a Grip, the band also did a number of things to help promote themselves and their album and appeal to youth culture, including the appearance of the band in a "Wayne's World" sketch on Saturday Night Live and subsequent performance of 2 songs in Wayne's World 2, performing at Woodstock '94, using their song "Deuces Are Wild" in The Beavis & Butt-Head Experience, and opening their own club, The Mama Kin, in Boston, MA in 1994.

1994 also saw the release of the band's compilation for Geffen Records, entitled Big Ones featuring all of their biggest hits from Permanent Vacation, Pump, and Get a Grip, as well as three new songs, "Deuces are Wild", "Blind Man", and "Walk on Water", all of which experienced great success on the rock charts.

Aerosmith signed to Columbia Records again in the mid-1990s, but they had to complete two contractual albums for Geffen before recording for the new label. The band took time off with their families before working on their next album, Nine Lives, which was plagued with personnel problems, including the firing of manager Tim Collins, who according to band members nearly caused the band to break up. The producer of the album was also changed from Glen Ballard to Kevin Shirley. Reviews were generally mixed, and Nine Lives initially fell down the charts quickly, though it had a long chart life and sold double platinum in the US alone, fueled by the singles, "Fallin' in Love (is Hard on the Knees)", the ballad "Hole in My Soul", and the crossover-pop smash "Pink". It was followed by another massive tour, which was plagued by problems including lead singer Steven Tyler injuring his leg at a concert, and Joey Kramer suffering burns when his car exploded at a gas station. Yet the band also experienced a major up in the biggest hit of their career, and their only #1 single to date, the love theme from the 1998 film Armageddon, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (conceived by Joe Perry and Diane Warren, though Warren alone received songwriting credit). (Perhaps coincidentally, Steven Tyler's daughter Liv was featured in the movie.) The song stayed on top of the charts for four weeks and was nominated for an Academy Award. 1998 also saw the release of the double-live album, A Little South of Sanity, which was culled from perfromances on the Get a Grip and Nine Lives tours. The album went platinum shortly after its release. The band continued with their seemingly-neverending world tours promoting Nine Lives and the "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" single well into 1999.

In 1999, they were featured in the Disney-MGM Studios (and later in the Walt Disney Studios Park) ride, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, providing the soundtrack and theme of the ride, which is based on their recording session and following concert. On September 9, 1999, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry reunited with Run-D.M.C. and were also joined by Kid Rock for a collaborative live performance of "Walk This Way" at the MTV Video Music Awards, a precursor to the Girls of Summer Tour. The band celebrated the new Millennium with a brief tour of Japan in 2000.

2000s

The band entered its next decade performing at the star-studded halftime show for Super Bowl XXXV, in January 2001, along with pop stars 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly. All of the stars collaborated with Aerosmith at the end for a much-celebrated performance of the group's legendary song "Walk This Way".

Soon after, in March of 2001, the band released their much-anticipated 13th studio album Just Push Play. The album was a large success and quickly went platinum, fueled by the #7 single "Jaded" and the appearance of the title track in Dodge commercials. They were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame soon after their album was released, in late March of 2001, after having been nominated in 2000 without getting in. Later that year, the band performed as part of the United We Stand concert in Washington D.C. for 9/11 victims and their families. Amazingly, the band flew back to Indianapolis for a show the same night, as part of their grueling yet highly successful Just Push Play Tour.

In 2002, Aerosmith released the 2-disc career-spanning compilation O, Yeah! The Ultimate Aerosmith Hits, which featured the new single "Girls of Summer", and embarked on the Girls of Summer Tour with Kid Rock and Run-D.M.C. opening.

In 2003, Aerosmith co-headlined with KISS on the Rocksimus Maximus Tour, in preparation for release of their blues album.

Their long-promised blues album, Honkin' on Bobo was released in 2004. Honkin' on Bobo continued to be a success for the resurgence of blues and roots music across the US and Europe. The album was a return to roots for the band, including recording the album in live sessions, working with former producer Jack Douglas, and laying down their blues-rock grit. It was followed by a live DVD, You Gotta Move in December 2004, culled from the first performance on the Honkin' on Bobo Tour. "Dream On" was also featured in an advertising campaign for Buick in 2004, targeting that marque's audience which is now composed largely of people who were teenagers when the song first charted. As the band no longer owned the rights to that song or much of its back catalog, it is unclear whether they authorized the use of the song.

2005 saw Steven Tyler appear in the film Be Cool. Joe Perry released his eponymous solo album that same year. At the 2006 Grammy Awards, he was nominated for "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" for the track Mercy, but lost to legend and hero Les Paul. In October 2005, Aerosmith released a CD/DVD Rockin' the Joint. The band hit the road for the Rockin' the Joint Tour on October 30th with Lenny Kravitz for a fall/winter tour hitting arenas in the largest U.S. markets. It was announced in January 2006 that the band will embark on a 5 week tour with Cheap Trick in the spring, hitting secondary markets in the U.S. Rumors of a tour started when Cheap Trick frontman Robin Zander joined the band onstage for "Come Together" during a concert in Tampa, Florida a week before the announcement. The tour was plagued with cancellations, however, due to "an illness of a member of the band". On March 22, 2006, the band was forced to cancel all remaining dates of their tour with Cheap Trick, to give singer Steven Tyler time to recover from throat surgery.

Aerosmith commenced recording of a new album on Armed Forces Day 2006. Tyler and Perry performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra for their annual July 4th concert on the Esplanade in 2006, a milestone as it was the first major event or performance since Steven Tyler's throat surgery. During this time, the band also announced that they will embark on the Route of All Evil Tour, with Mötley Crüe in fall of 2006.

On August 24, 2006 it was announced that Tom Hamilton was undergoing treatment for throat cancer. In order to make a full recovery, he will sit out the first half of the Route of All Evil Tour until mid-October. Former Joe Perry Project bassist David Hull will substitute for Hamilton until his return.

It was also reported on August 24, 2006 that another greatest hits record, titled Devil's Got a New Disguise, released on October 17, 2006. Fans speculate that it is being released in order to finally fulfill Aerosmith's contract with Sony and to tide fans over until the band's 14th album of original material, which is expected to be recorded and released in 2007.

On September 5, 2006, Aerosmith kicked off the Route of All Evil Tour with Mötley Crüe in Columbus, Ohio. The co-headlining tour will take both bands to amphitheaters across the United States, and is expected to last into November.

Singles

Aerosmith has had twenty-one singles reach the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100:

    • 1975 "Sweet Emotion" #36
    • 1976 "Dream On" (re-issue) #6
    • 1977 "Walk This Way" #10
    • 1976 "Last Child" #21
    • 1977 "Back in the Saddle" #38
    • 1978 "Come Together" #23
    • 1987 "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" #14
    • 1988 "Angel" #3
    • 1988 "Rag Doll" #17
    • 1989 "Love in an Elevator" #5
    • 1990 "Janie's Got a Gun" #4
    • 1990 "What it Takes" #9
    • 1990 "The Other Side" #22
    • 1993 "Livin' on the Edge" #18
    • 1993 "Cryin'" #12
    • 1994 "Amazing" #24
    • 1994 "Crazy" #17
    • 1997 "Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)" #35
    • 1998 "Pink" #27
    • 1998 "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" #1
    • 2001 "Jaded" #7

Tours

  • 2006-2007 Route of All Evil Tour
  • 2005-2006 Rockin' the Joint Tour
  • 2004 Honkin' on Bobo Tour
  • 2003 Rocksimus Maximus Tour
  • 2002 Girls of Summer Tour
  • 2001-2002 Just Push Play Tour
  • 1997-1999 Nine Lives Tour
  • 1993-1994 Get a Grip Tour
  • 1989-1990 Pump Tour
  • 1987-1988 Permanent Vacation Tour
  • 1985-1986 Done With Mirrors Tour
  • 1984 Back in the Saddle Tour
  • 1982-1983 Rock in a Hard Place Tour
  • 1979-1980 Night in the Ruts Tour
  • 1977-1978 Draw the Line Tour
  • 1976-1977 Rocks Tour
  • 1975 Toys in the Attic Tour

Influenced by:

Aerosmith has cited on numerous occasions being influenced in some way by the following artists:

Influenced:

Members of the following groups have cited on numerous occasions as being influenced by or having taken inspiration from Aerosmith:

  • Van Halen
  • Bon Jovi
  • Guns N' Roses
  • Mötley Crüe
  • The Black Crowes
  • Cinderella
  • Metallica
  • Ratt
  • The Darkness
  • Skid Row
  • Poison
  • Warrant
  • L.A. Guns
  • The Cult
  • Soundgarden
  • Stone Temple Pilots
  • Pearl Jam

 

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