Recent band photo from their Twitter page.
Origin: Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Genres: Hard rock, blues rock, heavy metal, glam metal
Years active: 1970–present
Labels: Columbia, Geffen
Associated acts: The Strangeurs/Chain Reaction, the Jam Band, The Joe Perry Project, Whitford/St. Holmes, the Jimmy Crespo Project
Discography at Wikipedia
Steven Tyler – lead vocals, harmonica, piano, percussion (1970–present)
Joe Perry – guitar, backing vocals (1970–1979, 1984–present)
Brad Whitford – guitar (1971–1981, 1984–present)
Tom Hamilton – bass (1970–present)
Joey Kramer – drums, percussion (1970–present)
Jimmy Crespo – guitar, backing vocals (1979–1984)
Ray Tabano – guitar (1970–1971)
Rick Dufay – guitar (1981–1984)
Aerosmith is an American 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 vocalist/pianist/harmonicist 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 gold and platinum albums, beginning with their 1973 eponymous debut album, followed by Get Your Wings in 1974. 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. Two additional albums followed in 1977 and 1979. Their first five albums have since attained multi-platinum status. Throughout the 1970s, the band toured extensively and charted a dozen Hot 100 singles. By the end of the decade, 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 led to 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 the album Rock in a Hard Place, which was certified gold but failed to match their previous successes.
Perry and Whitford returned to Aerosmith in 1984 and the band signed a new deal with Geffen Records. After a comeback tour, the band recorded Done with Mirrors (1985), which won some critical praise but failed to come close to commercial expectations. It was not until the band's collaboration with rap group Run–D.M.C. in 1986, and the 1987 multi-platinum release Permanent Vacation, that they regained the level of popularity they had experienced in the 1970s. In 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), and embarked on their most extensive concert tours to date. The band also became a pop culture phenomenon with popular music videos and notable appearances in television, film, and video games. Their comeback has been described as one of the most remarkable and spectacular in rock 'n' roll history. Additional albums followed in 2001, 2004, and 2012. Since 2001, the band has toured every year except 2008. After 46 years of performing, the band continues to tour and record music.
Aerosmith is the best-selling American hard rock band of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide, including over 70 million records in the United States alone. With 25 gold albums, 18 platinum albums, and 12 multi-platinum albums, they hold the record for the most total certifications by an American group and are tied for the most multi-platinum albums by an American group. The band has scored 21 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, nine number-one Mainstream Rock hits, four Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, and ten MTV Video Music Awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and were included among both Rolling Stone's and VH1's lists of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2013, the band's principal songwriters, Tyler and Perry, were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In 1964, Steven Tyler formed his own band called the Strangeurs—later Chain Reaction—in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Perry and Hamilton formed the Jam Band (commonly known as "Joe Perry's Jam Band"), which was based on free-form and blues. Hamilton and Perry moved to Boston, Massachusetts in September 1969. There they met Joey Kramer, a drummer from Yonkers, New York. Kramer knew Tyler and had always hoped to play in a band with him. Kramer, a Berklee College of Music student, decided to quit school to join Jam Band.
In 1970, Chain Reaction and Jam Band played at the same gig. Tyler immediately loved Jam Band's sound, and wanted to combine the two bands. In October 1970, the bands met up again and considered the proposition. Tyler, who had been a drummer and backup singer in Chain Reaction, adamantly refused to play drums in this new band, insisting he would only take part if he could be frontman and lead vocalist. The others agreed, and a new band was born. The band moved into a home together at 1325 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, where they wrote and rehearsed music together and relaxed in between shows.
The members of the band reportedly spent afternoons getting stoned and watching Three Stooges reruns. One day, they had a post-Stooges meeting to try to come up with a name. Kramer said 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, which featured jacket art of a circus performer jumping out of a biplane. Initially, Kramer's bandmates were unimpressed; they all thought he was referring to the Sinclair Lewis novel they were required to read in high school English class. "No, not Arrowsmith," Kramer explained. "A-E-R-O...Aerosmith." The band settled upon this name after also considering "the Hookers" and "Spike Jones."
Soon, the band hired Ray Tabano, a childhood friend of Tyler, as rhythm guitarist and began playing local shows. Aerosmith played their first gig in Mendon, Massachusetts at Nipmuc Regional High School (now Miscoe Hill Middle School) on November 6, 1970. In 1971, Tabano was replaced by Brad Whitford, who also attended the Berklee School of Music and was formerly of the band Earth Inc. Whitford, from Reading, Massachusetts, had already 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" from 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 number 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 number 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 number 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)
Steven Tyler and Joe Perry performing live in concert.
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. Kurt Cobain listed Rocks as one of the albums he thought were most influential to Nirvana's sound in his journal in 1993. 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.
Aerosmith's next album was 1977's Draw the Line. The album's recording was affected by the excesses of the band members, but the record still had memorable moments. The title track charted just shy of the Top 40 and remains a live staple, and "Kings and Queens" also charted. The album went on to sell 2 million copies. The band toured extensively in support of the album, however drug abuse and the fast-paced life of touring and recording began affecting their performances. 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. 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. The stand-alone single "Chip Away the Stone" was also released in 1978 and charted at number 77.
Departures of Perry and Whitford, Night in the Ruts and Rock in a Hard Place (1979–1984)
In 1979, the band started work on their next album, Night in the Ruts. Aerosmith decided to go on tour during a break in the recording schedule but tensions within the band were slowly coming to a head. The band's touring schedule brought them to Cleveland Stadium on July 28, 1979, where they headlined the World Series of Rock festival. In a heated argument backstage, Joe Perry's wife, Elissa, threw a glass of milk at Tom Hamilton's wife, Terry. Following the show, Tyler and Perry got into a heated argument when Tyler confronted Perry about his wife's antics, and after the course of the argument Perry quit the band and left (while Tyler claims in his autobiography that he fired Perry from the band). In leaving, Perry took some of the music that he had written with him. Shortly after his departure Perry formed a new band called the Joe Perry Project.
Since there was still work to be done on Night in the Ruts, Aerosmith needed fill-in musicians to take Perry's place on the songs that needed to be recorded to complete the album. Rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford took over some of the lead parts and Richie Supa, the band's longtime writing partner, filled in where needed until the band was able to hire Jimmy Crespo to take over as the full-time guitarist. Night in the Ruts was released in November 1979, but only managed to sell enough records to be certified Gold at the time (it would eventually sell enough to be Platinum certified in 1994). The only single the album spawned, a cover of "Remember (Walking in the Sand)" by the Shangri-Las, peaked at #67 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The tour for Night in the Ruts commenced shortly thereafter but the band found themselves playing in smaller and smaller venues than they were before due to their popularity beginning to wane. Steven Tyler's drug issues were starting to affect his performance and songwriting, and he reached bottom when he collapsed on stage during a show in Portland, Maine in 1980 and did not get up for the remainder of the set. Also in 1980, Aerosmith released its Greatest Hits album. While the compilation didn't chart very high initially, it gained popularity later and 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, Aerosmith began work on their next album, which was titled Rock in a Hard Place and saw them reunite with producer Jack Douglas. Once again, though, they would be forced to deal with another departure. After the first song for the album, "Lightning Strikes", was recorded Brad Whitford departed the band and decided to form a duo with Derek St. Holmes, with whom he recorded a self-titled album that failed to garner much interest. Whitford later joined up with the Joe Perry Project and played with them in 1984.
With Rick Dufay taking Whitford's place, Rock in a Hard Place was released on August 1, 1982. The album reached #32 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Only one single charted, the aforementioned "Lightning Strikes", which peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart. As with the tour for Night in the Ruts, Aerosmith was unable to book larger venues and instead had to rely on filling clubs and theaters, which they struggled to do. At a show in Worcester, Massachusetts, Tyler and Perry reunited and got high backstage before the show. Tyler was so intoxicated that he collapsed on stage again and like before could not get up.
On February 14, 1984, Perry and Whitford saw Aerosmith perform at Boston's Orpheum Theater. Shortly thereafter, discussions began to reintegrate the two into the band and several months later, the original members of Aerosmith reunited. Steven Tyler recalls:
Back in the Saddle reunion tour, Done with Mirrors and drug rehab (1984–1986)
In 1984, Aerosmith embarked on a reunion tour called the Back in the Saddle Tour, 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, the band's old label 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 since reuniting. While the album did receive some positive reviews, it only went gold and failed to produce a hit single or generate any widespread interest. 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, Tyler and Perry appeared on Run–D.M.C.'s cover of "Walk This Way", a track blending rock and roll with hip hop. In reaching number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, the song and its frequently-aired video confirmed rap's mainstream appeal and resurrected Aerosmith's career by introducing the band's music to a new generation.
Yet the band members' drug problems still stood in their way. In 1986, Tyler completed a successful drug rehabilitation program, after an intervention by his fellow band members, a doctor, 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. Steven Tyler reveals in his autobiography that the album was "...the first one we ever did sober." Part of Permanent Vacation's commercial success involved producer Bruce Fairbairn whose production touches (such as sound effects and high-quality recording) added interest to the album and the use of outside songwriters such as Desmond Child, Jim Vallance, and Holly Knight who assisted the band with lyrics. While the group was initially hesitant to using outside songwriters, including Tyler being furious for Knight getting songwriting credits for changing one word ("Rag Time" became "Rag Doll"), the method paid off, as Permanent Vacation became the band's most successful album in a decade. 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 Guns N' Roses' 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 the band as a serious musical force. Pump was a critical and commercial success, eventually selling 7 million copies, spawning several music videos that were in regular rotation on MTV, and achieving four-star ratings from major music magazines. Pump ranked as the fourth-bestselling album of 1990. The band also won its first Grammy in the category of Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, for "Janie's Got a Gun". In addition, the video for "Janie's Got a Gun" won two Video Music Awards and was ranked as one of the 100 greatest videos of all time by Rolling Stone, MTV, and VH1. Like Permanent Vacation, Pump was produced by Bruce Fairbairn, who added production touches such as instrumental interludes that provided transitions between songs to give the album a more complete sound, as well as the Margarita Horns, who added horns to tracks such as "Love in an Elevator" and "The Other Side". Rock critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine claimed that Pump "revels in [pop concessions] without ever losing sight of Aerosmith's dirty hard rock core", going on to say that, "such ambition and successful musical eclectism make Pump rank with Toys in the Attic and Rocks." 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.
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". The appearance of the band in the "Wayne's World" sketch was later ranked by E! as the number-one moment in the history of the program. 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 coordination with the release of Pandora's Box, the band's 1975 hit "Sweet Emotion" was re-mixed and re-released as a single, and a music video was created to promote the single. Also in 1991, the band performed their 1973 single "Dream On" with Michael Kamen's orchestra for MTV's 10th Anniversary special; this performance was used as the official music video for the song. 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".
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 number 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 20 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 1990s. 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, "Deuces Are Wild" from the Beavis and Butt-head Experience, as well as two new songs, "Blind Man" and "Walk on Water", both of which experienced great success on the rock charts.