The Bad Boys from Boston
Aerosmith is an American hard rock band, sometimes referred to as “The Bad Boys from Boston” and “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”. Their style, which is rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues, and has inspired many subsequent rock artists. The band was formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970. Guitarist Joe Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton, originally in a band together called the Jam Band, met up with singer Steven Tyler, drummer Joey Kramer, and guitarist Ray Tabano, and formed Aerosmith. In 1971, Tabano was replaced by Brad Whitford, and the band began developing a following in Boston.
They were signed to Columbia Records in 1972, and released a string of multi-platinum albums, beginning with their 1973 eponymous debut album. In 1975, the band broke into the mainstream with the album Toys in the Attic, and their 1976 follow-up Rocks cemented their status as hard rock superstars. By the end of the 1970s, they were among the most popular hard rock bands in the world and developed a loyal following of fans, often referred to as the “Blue Army”. However, drug addiction and internal conflict took their toll on the band, which resulted in the departures of Perry and Whitford, in 1979 and 1981 respectively. They were replaced by Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay. The band did not fare well between 1980 and 1984, releasing a lone album, Rock in a Hard Place, which went gold but failed to match their previous successes.
Although Perry and Whitford returned in 1984 and the band signed a new deal with Geffen Records, it was not until the band sobered up and released 1987′s Permanent Vacation that they regained the level of popularity they had experienced in the 1970s. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, the band scored several hits and won numerous awards for music from the multi-platinum albums Pump (1989), Get a Grip (1993), and Nine Lives (1997). Their comeback has been described as one of the most remarkable and spectacular in rock ‘n’ roll history. After 40 years of performing, the band continues to tour and record music.
Aerosmith is the best-selling American rock band of all time, having sold more than 150 million albums worldwide, including 66.5 million albums in the United States alone. They also hold the record for the most gold and multi-platinum albums by an American group. The band has scored 21 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, nine #1 Mainstream Rock hits, four Grammy Awards, and ten MTV Video Music Awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and in 2005 they were ranked #57 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
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. Aerosmith played their first gig in Mendon, Massachusetts at Nipmuc Regional High School in 1970.
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 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. Brad Whitford, being from Reading, Massachusetts had played at Reading’s AW Coolidge Middle School. Other than a period from July 1979 to April 1984, the line-up of Tyler, Perry, Hamilton, Kramer, and Whitford has stayed the same.
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 in New York City. Aerosmith was not originally scheduled to play that night at the club, but they paid from their own pockets to secure a place on the bill, reportedly the only band ever to do so at Max’s. “No Surprize” off their Night in the Ruts album celebrates the moment their fame began. Aerosmith signed with Columbia in mid-1972 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, 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 in part due to the physical resemblance between lead singers Steven Tyler and Mick Jagger, 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.
Rocks, Draw the Line, and Live! Bootleg (1976–1978)
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 Mötley Crüe 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 major 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.
Departures of Perry and Whitford, Night in the Ruts, and Rock in a Hard Place (1979–1984)
In the middle of 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 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 by 1981, 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 who recorded Whitford/St. Holmes with former Ted Nugent vocalist/guitarist Derek St. Holmes. 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 commercially is the weakest, only going gold, and produced a moderately hit single, “Lightning Strikes.” During the tour for Rock in a Hard Place, Tyler again collapsed on stage, 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:
“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. ”
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 the album 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 direction 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 of years. According to the band’s tell-all autobiography, Collins pledged in September 1986 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.
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 GN’Rs well-publicized, rampant drug use.
Aerosmith’s next album was even more successful. Pump, released in September 1989, featured three Top Ten singles: “What It Takes”, “Janie’s Got a Gun”, 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 November 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 GN’R covered in 1986) and “Train Kept-A Rollin”.
Source – Wikipedia
Not Aerosmith Educated? Download These Songs:
Janie’s Got a Gun
Walk This Way
Love in an Elevator
Livin’ On the Edge
–All available for purchase on iTunes–