One of the few bands to reinvent themselves over time and appeal to more than one generation, Aerosmith is often dismissed as a pale American imitation of The Rolling Stones. The bands each feature a larger-than-life lead singer, guitarists who could chug a blues lead with anyone and solid rhythm sections.
Boston proudly claims Aerosmith as native sons, but Steve Tyler and Joe Perry first met in New Hampshire in 1970. Fueled by the 1972 hit Dream On, Aerosmith’s reputation grew national, allowing the band to release a flurry of albums – one a year – between 1973 and 1979.
Other big hits followed during that time, notably Walk This Way and a cover of The Beatles’ Come Together from the ill-fated Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie. The legend grew along with a rock and roll lifestyle heavy on drugs and booze. After A Night In The Ruts, which charted no hits, guitarist Joe Perry left to form The Joe Perry Project.
He was back behind front man Steven Tyler just five years later after the band had tried numerous lineups, but Aerosmith, reportedly clean and sober, took several years of touring and working with world class songwriters before their re-emergence into rock stardom.
Oddly enough, the catalyst was a rap-influenced cover of Walk This Way by pioneers Run DMC that showed the MTV generation what their older brother and sisters had been hollering about.
The remainder of the 1980s and the 1990s saw the band break into stardom again, even when wailing the Diane Warren ballad, I Don’t Want Miss A Thing, for the movie Armageddon. Miss A Thing remains the band’s only number one entry on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Four Grammy awards in the early 1990s showed the new sound also appealed to peers, but critics are less forgiving of the band’s most recent efforts.
Despite the dual demons of substance abuse and age, the band continues making relevant music 35 years after Perry and Tyler’s chance meeting.
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