Aerosmith - Formation: 1969-1971
The origins of Aerosmith can be traced to the late 1960s in Sunapee, New Hampshire. Steven Tyler was a drummer and vocalist originally from Yonkers, New York, who had been in a series of relatively unsuccessful bands such as The Vic Tallarico Orchestra, The Strangeurs/Chain Reaction, The Chain, Fox Chase, and William Proud. In 1969, while vacationing in Sunapee, he met Joe Perry, who was at the time washing dishes at the Anchorage in Sunapee Harbor, and playing in a band called the Jam Band with bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer David "Pudge" Scott. This meeting would eventually lead to the formation of Aerosmith.
Hamilton and Perry moved to Boston, Massachusetts in September . There they met Joey Kramer, a drummer also from Yonkers, New York who had also known Steven Tyler, with whom he had always hoped to play in a band. Kramer, a Berklee College of Music student, decided to quit school to join the band. In October 1970, they met up once again with Steven Tyler, who had been a drummer and backup singer, but adamantly refused to play drums in this band, insisting he would only take part if he could be the frontman and lead vocalist. The others agreed, and Aerosmith was born. The band took the name Aerosmith, suggested by drummer Joey Kramer, after considering The Hookers and Spike Jones.
As said, the members of the band used to sit around every afternoon getting stoned and watching Three Stooges reruns. One day, they had a post-Stooges meeting to try to come up with a name. Kramer volunteered that when he was in school he would write the word Aerosmith all over his notebooks. The name had popped into his head after listening to Harry Nilsson's album Aerial Ballet, an homage to Nilsson's grandparents' aerial circus act, that featured jacket art of a circus performer jumping out of a biplane. Initially, Kramer's bandmates were nonplussed; they all thought he was referring to the boring Sinclair Lewis novel they were forced to read in high school English class.
"No, not Arrowsmith," Kramer explained. "A-E-R-O...Aerosmith."
The band added Ray Tabano, a childhood friend of Tyler, as rhythm guitarist and began playing local shows. In 1971, Tabano was replaced by Brad Whitford, who also attended the Berklee School of Music and was formerly of the band Earth Inc. Other than a period from July 1979 to April 1984, the line-up of Tyler, Perry, Hamilton, Kramer, and Whitford has stayed the same.
Aerosmith - Record deal, Aerosmith, Get Your Wings, and Toys in the Attic: 1971-1975
After forming the band and finalizing the lineup in 1971, the band started to garner some local success doing live shows. Originally booked through the Ed Malhoit Agency, the band signed a promotion deal with Frank Connelly and eventually secured a management deal with David Krebs and Steve Leber in 1972. Krebs and Leber invited Columbia Records President Clive Davis to see the band at Max's Kansas City club in New York City. Aerosmith was not originally scheduled to play that night at Max's Kansas City, but they were able to pay their way on the bill. Aerosmith signed for a reported $125,000 and issued their debut album, Aerosmith. Released in January 1973, the album peaked at #166.
The album was straightforward rock and roll with well-defined blues influences, laying the groundwork for Aerosmith's signature blues-rock sound.Although the highest charting single from the album was "Dream On" at #59, several tracks (such as "Mama Kin" and "Walkin' the Dog") would become staples of the band's live shows and receive airplay on rock radio. The album reached gold status initially, but eventually went on to sell two million copies and was certified double platinum after the band reached mainstream success over a decade later. After constant touring, the band released their second album Get Your Wings in 1974, the first of a string of multi-platinum albums produced by Jack Douglas. This album included the rock radio hits "Same Old Song and Dance" and "Train Kept A-Rollin'", a cover done previously by The Yardbirds. The album also contained several fan favorites including "Lord of the Thighs", "Seasons of Wither", and "S.O.S. (Too Bad)", darker songs which have become staples in the band's live shows. To date, Get Your Wings has sold three million copies.
It was 1975's Toys in the Attic, however, that established Aerosmith as international stars competing with the likes of Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. Originally derided as Rolling Stones knockoffs, Toys in the Attic showed that Aerosmith was a unique and talented band in their own right. Toys in the Attic was an immediate success, starting with the single "Sweet Emotion", which became the band's first Top 40 hit.This was followed by a successful re-release of "Dream On" which hit #6, becoming their best charting single of the 1970s. "Walk This Way", re-released in 1976, reached the Top 10 in early 1977.
In addition, "Toys in the Attic" and "Big Ten Inch Record" (a song originally recorded by Bull Moose Jackson) became concert staples. As a result of this success, both of the band's previous albums re-charted. Toys in the Attic has gone on to become the band's bestselling studio album in the States, with certified U.S. sales of eight million copies. The band toured in support of Toys in the Attic, where they started to get more recognition. Also around this time, the band established their home base as "The Wherehouse" in Waltham, Massachusetts, where they would record and rehearse music, as well as conduct business.
Aerosmith - Rocks, Draw the Line, and Live! Bootleg: 1976-1978
Steven Tyler and Joe Perry performing in concert together in the 1970s.
Aerosmith's next album was 1976's Rocks, which "captured Aerosmith at their most raw and rocking". It went platinum swiftly and featured two FM hits,
"Last Child" and "Back in the Saddle", as well as the ballad "Home Tonight",which also charted. Rocks has sold four million copies to date. Both Toys in the Attic and Rocks are highly regarded, especially in the hard rock genre, and appear on such lists as Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and are cited by members of Guns N' Roses, Metallica, and Mí¶tley Crí¼e as having large influences on their music. Soon after Rocks was released, the band continued to tour heavily, this time headlining their own shows and playing to several large stadiums and rock festivals.
The next album, 1977's 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. The album went on to sell 2 million copies; however drug abuse and the fast-paced life of touring and recording began affecting their output. While continuing to tour and record into the late 1970s,
Aerosmith acted in the movie version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Their cover of the Beatles hit "Come Together" was included in the album's soundtrack and would be the band's last Top 40 hit for nearly 10 years.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. Lead singer Steven Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry became known as "The Toxic Twins" because of their notorious abuse of drugs on and off the stage.
Aerosmith - Departures of Perry and Whitford, Night in the Ruts, and Rock in a Hard Place: 1979-1984
Just after the recording of their sixth studio album, 1979's Night in the Ruts, Joe Perry left the band, citing differences with Steven Tyler, and formed The Joe Perry Project. Perry was replaced first by longtime band friend and songwriter Richard Supa and then by guitarist Jimmy Crespo (formerly of the band Flame). Night in the Ruts quickly fell off the charts (although it would eventually go platinum several years later), its only single being a cover of The Shangri-Las' "Remember (Walking in the Sand)", which topped out at #67.
The band continued to tour in support of Night in the Ruts with new guitarist Jimmy Crespo onboard, but as the 1970s came to a close, the band's popularity waned. Steven Tyler collapsed onstage during a performance in Portland, Maine in early 1980. Also in 1980, Aerosmith released its Greatest Hits album. The album has gone on to become the band's bestselling album in the United States, with sales of 11 million copies.
In the fall of 1980, Tyler was injured in a serious motorcycle accident, which left him hospitalized for two months, and unable to tour or record well into 1981. 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 major hit single. During the tour for Rock in a Hard Place, Tyler again collapsed onstage, this time at the band's homecoming show in Worcester, Massachusetts, after getting high with Joe Perry, who met with Aerosmith backstage that evening.
On February 14, 1984, Perry and Whitford saw Aerosmith perform. They were officially re-inducted into the ranks of Aerosmith once more two months later. Steven Tyler recalls:
Aerosmith - Back in the Saddle reunion tour, Done with Mirrors, and drug rehab: 1984-1986
In 1984, Aerosmith embarked on a reunion tour entitled "Back in the Saddle", which led to the live album Classics Live II. While concerts on the tour were well-attended, it was plagued with several incidents, mostly attributed to drug abuse by band members. 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 collection Gems.
In 1985 the band released Done with Mirrors, their first studio album with Geffen and their first album since the much-publicized reunion. While the album did receive some positive reviews, it only went gold and failed to produce a hit single, or generate much buzz outside the confines of rock radio. The album's most notable track, "Let the Music Do the Talking", was in fact a cover of a song originally recorded by The Joe Perry Project and released on that band's album of the same name. Nevertheless, the band became a popular concert attraction once again, touring in support of Done With Mirrors, well into 1986.
In 1986, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry appeared on Run D.M.C.'s cover of Aerosmith's "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 marked Aerosmith's true comeback. The song reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and its associated video helped introduce Aerosmith to a new generation.
Yet the band members' drug problems still stood in their way. In 1986, lead singer Steven Tyler completed a successful drug rehabilitation program, at the discretion of his fellow band members and manager Tim Collins, who believed that the band's future would not be bright if Tyler did not get treated.
The rest of the band members also completed drug rehab programs over the course of the next couple years. According to the band's tell-all autobiography,
Collins pledged he could make Aerosmith the biggest band in the world by 1990 if they all completed drug rehab.Their next album was crucial because of the commercial disappointment of Done With Mirrors, and as the band members became clean, they worked hard to make their next album a success.
Aerosmith - Permanent Vacation and Pump: 1987-1991
Permanent Vacation was released in September 1987, becoming a major hit and the band's bestselling album in over a decade (selling 5 million copies in the U.S.), with all three of its singles ("Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", "Rag Doll", and "Angel") reaching the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. The group went on a subsequent tour with labelmates Guns N' Roses (who have cited Aerosmith as a major influence), which was intense at times because of Aerosmith's new struggle to stay clean amidst G N'Rs well-publicized, rampant drug use.
Aerosmith's next album was even more successful. Pump, released in October 1989, featured three Top Ten singles: "Janie's Got a Gun", "What It Takes", and "Love in an Elevator", as well as the Top 30 "The Other Side", re-establishing Aerosmith as a serious musical force. Pump was a critical and commercial success, eventually selling 7 million copies, achieving four-star ratings from major music magazines, and earning the band their first ever Grammy win in the category of Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, for "Janie's Got a Gun". The recording process for Pump was documented in the video The Making of Pump, which has since been re-released as a DVD. The music videos for the album's singles were featured on the release Things That Go Pump in the Night, which quickly went platinum.
Aerosmith appear in a "Wayne's World" sketch on Saturday Night Live in 1990.
In support of Pump, the band embarked on the 12-month Pump Tour, which lasted for most of 1990. On February 21, 1990, the band appeared in a "Wayne's World" sketch on Saturday Night Live, debating the fall of communism and the Soviet Union, and performed their recent hits "Janie's Got a Gun" and "Monkey on My Back".
On August 11, 1990, the band's performance on MTV's Unplugged aired. In October 1990, the Pump Tour ended, with the band's first ever performances in Australia. That same year, the band was also inducted to the Hollywood Rock Walk. In 1991, the band appeared on The Simpsons episode "Flaming Moe's" and released a box set titled Pandora's Box. In 1992, Tyler and Perry appeared live as guests of Guns N' Roses during the latter's 1992 worldwide pay-per-view show in Paris, performing a medley of "Mama Kin" (which G N'R covered in 1986) and "Train Kept-A Rollin".
Aerosmith - Get a Grip and Big Ones: 1992-1995
The band took a brief break before recording their follow-up to Pump in 1992. Despite significant shifts in mainstream music at the beginning of the 1990s, 1993's 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 a two-and-a-half-year timespan. 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 7 million copies in the U.S. alone, and over 15 million copies worldwide. The band won two Grammy Awards for songs from this album in the category of Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: for "Livin' on the Edge" in 1994 and "Crazy" in 1995.
During the making of Get a Grip, the management and record company brought in a variety of professional songwriting collaborators to help give nearly all the songs on the album more commercial appeal, a trend which would continue until the early 2000s. However, this led to accusations of selling out that would continue throughout the 90s. In addition to Aerosmith's 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 the movie Wayne's World 2 where they performed two songs, the appearance of the band and their music in the video games Revolution X and Quest for Fame, performing at Woodstock '94, using their song "Deuces Are Wild" in The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience, and opening their own club, The Mama Kin Music Hall, in Boston, MA in 1994.
That same year saw the release of the band's compilation for Geffen Records, entitled Big Ones featuring 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 - Nine Lives and "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing": 1996-2000
Aerosmith had signed a $30 million contract with Columbia Records/Sony Music in 1991, but had only recorded three of their six contractual albums with Geffen Records at that point (Done with Mirrors, Permanent Vacation, and Pump). Between 1991 and 1996, they released two more albums with Geffen (Get a Grip and Big Ones), which meant they now had five albums with Geffen under their belt (along with a planned live compilation), which meant they could now begin recording for their new contract with Columbia.
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 album's producer was also changed from Glen Ballard to Kevin Shirley. Nine Lives was released in March of 1997. Reviews were mixed, and Nine Lives initially fell down the charts, although it had a long chart life and sold double platinum in the United States alone, fueled by its singles, "Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)", the ballad "Hole in My Soul", and the crossover-pop smash "Pink" (which won the band their fourth Grammy Award in 1999 in the Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal category).
It was followed by the over two-year-long Nine Lives Tour, which was plagued by problems including lead singer Steven Tyler injuring his leg at a concert, and Joey Kramer suffering second degree burns when his car caught fire at a gas station. However, the band also released their only #1 single to date: "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing", the love theme, written by Diane Warren, from the 1998 film Armageddon, starring Steven Tyler's daughter Liv.
The song stayed on top of the charts for four weeks and was nominated for an Academy Award. The song helped open Aerosmith up to a new generation and remains a slow-dance staple. 1998 also saw the release of the double-live album, A Little South of Sanity, which was assembled from performances 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, Aerosmith were featured in the Disney Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World (and later in 2001 at Disneyland Paris in the Walt Disney Studios Park) ride, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, providing the ride's soundtrack and theme. 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, and also contributed the song "Angel's Eye" to the 2000 film Charlie's Angels.
Aerosmith - Just Push Play, O, Yeah!, and Rocksimus Maximus: 2001-2003
The band entered their next decade by performing at the 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 performance of "Walk This Way".
In March 2001, the band released their 13th studio album Just Push Play, which quickly went platinum, fueled by the Top 10 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. Aerosmith is the only band to be inducted to the Hall of Fame with a song active in the charts ("Jaded"). Later that year, the band performed as part of the United We Stand: What More Can I Give benefit concert in Washington D.C. for 9/11 victims and their families. The band flew back to Indianapolis for a show the same night, as part of their Just Push Play Tour.
The band started 2002 by ending the Just Push Play tour, and simultaneously recording segments for their Behind the Music special on VH1, which not only chronicled the band's history but also the band's current activities and touring. The special was one of the few Behind the Musics to run two hours in length. In July 2002, Aerosmith released a two-disc career-spanning compilation O, Yeah! 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. O, Yeah! has since been certified double platinum. MTV honored Aerosmith with their mtvICON award in 2002. Performances included Pink covering "Janie's Got a Gun". Shakira performed "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", Kid Rock played "Mama Kin" and "Last Child", Train performed "Dream On" and Papa Roach covered "Sweet Emotion".
In addition, testimonials featured surprise guests Metallica, as well as Janet Jackson, Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst, Alicia Silverstone and Mila Kunis. In 2003, Aerosmith co-headlined with Kiss on the Rocksimus Maximus Tour, in preparation for release of their blues album.
Aerosmith - Honkin' on Bobo, Rockin' the Joint, and Devil's Got a New Disguise: 2004-2006
Brad Whitford, Steven Tyler, and Joe Perry of Aerosmith performing at the NFL Kickoff in Washington, DC on September 4, 2003.
Aerosmith's long-promised blues album Honkin' on Bobo was released in 2004. This was a return to the band's roots, 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 performances on the Honkin' on Bobo Tour. "Dream On" was also featured in an advertising campaign for Buick in 2004, targeting that marque's market which is now composed largely of people who were teenagers when the song first charted.
2005 saw Steven Tyler appear in the film Be Cool. Joe Perry released his self-titled 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 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 30 with Lenny Kravitz for a fall/winter tour of arenas in the largest U.S. markets. The band planned to tour with Cheap Trick in the spring, hitting secondary markets in the U.S. Almost all of this leg of the tour was canceled, however. Dates were initially canceled one by one until March 22, 2006, when it was announced that lead singer Steven Tyler needed throat surgery, and the remaining dates on the tour were subsequently canceled.
Aerosmith commenced recording a new album on Armed Forces Day 2006. Tyler and Perry performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra for their annual July 4 concert on the Esplanade in 2006, a milestone as it was the first major event or performance since Steven Tyler's throat surgery. Around this time, the band also announced that they would embark on the Route of All Evil Tour with Mí¶tley Crí¼e in late 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 sat out much of the Route of All Evil Tour until he was well again. Former Joe Perry Project bassist David Hull substituted for Hamilton until his return. On September 5, 2006, Aerosmith kicked off the Route of All Evil Tour with Mí¶tley Crí¼e in Columbus, Ohio. The co-headlining tour took both bands to amphitheaters across North America through November 24. After that, a select few arena dates were added, some of which were with Mí¶tley Crí¼e. The tour ended December 17.
On October 17, 2006, the compilation album Devil's Got a New Disguise - The Very Best of Aerosmith was released. The album contained previous hits with the addition of two new songs, "Devil's Got a New Disguise" and "Sedona Sunrise", which were older outtakes re-recorded for the album. "Devil's Got a New Disguise" peaked at #15 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The album was intended to fulfill Aerosmith's contract with Sony and tide fans over until the band's new studio album was released.
Aerosmith - World Tour, Guitar Hero, and new album: 2007-present
Aerosmith performing live at Quilmes Rock, Argentina on April 15, 2007.
In early 2007, the band announced a new World Tour, their first for nearly a decade to include dates outside North America or Japan. The band performed at London's Hard Rock Cafe in February 2007to promote their European tour which included a night in Hyde Park as part of the Hyde Park Calling festival sponsored by Hard Rock Cafe. In the spring, the band toured Latin America to sold-out stadium crowds. In the summer, the band toured Europe, performing at several major rock festivals and visiting some countries they had never played before. Additionally, the band played Asian countries such as the United Arab Emirates and India for the first time. The band also played a few select dates in California and Canada in late July. One such date, a July 21 concert in Prince Edward Island, was the largest in that province's history. In September, the band performed eight dates in major markets in Northeastern North America. These shows were opened by Joan Jett. The band also played a private gig in Hawaii. A public show in Hawaii was canceled for logistical reasons, which spurred a class action lawsuit against the band.
On November 1, 2007, the band began work on the final studio album of their current contract with Sony. It is believed that the album will be a mix of re-recorded tracks left off previous albums as well as brand new material. In an interview, guitarist Joe Perry revealed that in addition to creating a new album, the band was working closely with the makers of the Guitar Hero series to develop Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, which is dedicated to the band's music. The game was released on June 29, 2008 and contains many of their best songs. Steven Tyler announced on VH1 Classic Radio on September 4, 2008 that Aerosmith intends to enter the studio at the end of September, 2008 to complete the band's 15th studio album. It will be the band's first album of original material since 2001's Just Push Play. Tyler also confirmed that the band plans to begin a new U.S. tour in June of 2009, in support of the as-yet-untitled album. This tour was supposed to be preceded by a concert in Venezuela on February 1, 2009. However, on January 15, Tyler said the band would be unable to play the gig because of a second knee injury of guitarist Joe Perry. In mid-February 2009, it was announced that the album would be produced by the famed Brendan O'Brien and that the album would likely be recorded live, like their earlier records. The band hopes to finish the album before their tour starts in June 2009.
Aerosmith: Band members
Aerosmith - Current members
Steven Tyler - lead vocals, piano, harmonica, percussion and drums (1970-present)
Joe Perry - lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1970-1979; 1984-present)
Brad Whitford - rhythm and lead guitar (1971-1981; 1984-present)
Tom Hamilton - bass guitar, backing vocals (1970-present)
Joey Kramer - drums, percussion (1970-present)
Aerosmith - Former members
Ray Tabano - rhythm and lead guitar (1970-1971)
Jimmy Crespo - lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1979-1984)
Rick Dufay - rhythm and lead guitar (1981-1984)