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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 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, followed by their 1974 album Get Your Wings. 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. Throughout the 1970s, the band toured extensively and charted a string of 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 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.
Perry and Whitford returned 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 release 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), 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 and 2004. The band toured throughout the 2000s, touring every year except 2008. After 43 years of performing, the band continues to tour and record music. Their latest album, Music from Another Dimension!, was released on November 6, 2012.
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 number-one 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 were included among both Rolling Stone’s and VH1′s lists of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.…
Departures of Perry and Whitford, Night in the Ruts and Rock in a Hard Place (1979–1984)
On July 28, 1979, at a stadium concert in Cleveland during a break in recording their sixth studio album, 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 was finally released in November 1979. It 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 number 67.
The band continued to tour in support of Night in the Ruts with new guitarist Jimmy Crespo on board, but through the early 1980s, the band’s popularity waned. Steven Tyler’s drug abuse continued to affect concerts and he collapsed onstage during a performance in Portland, Maine in early 1980. 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, 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 was commercially weak, only going gold, and produced only a moderate hit, “Lightning Strikes”, which peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart. 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 at Boston’s Orpheum Theater, which in turn led to their official re-induction into the ranks of the band 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 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”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerosmith
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