Aerosmith, Born in America:
Aerosmith was born in 1970, the product of the union of two local Boston area bands. Chain Reaction founder, drummer and backup vocalist Steven Tyler became lead vocalist, bringing along a childhood pal and former bandmate, rhythm guitarist Ray Tabano. The Jam Band's founder and lead guitarist Joe Perry, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer assumed the same roles in Aerosmith.
In less than a year, Tabano left, replaced by Brad Whitford, another veteran of the local Beantown band scene. This lineup remained intact until Perry quit in 1979 and Whitford left in 1981.
Obstacles to Aerosmith's Success:
Early on, the band faced two major obstacles. Drug use and personality clashes resulted in Whitford and Perry leaving. Aerosmith also had to overcome the initial impression that they were nothing more than American imitators of the Rolling Stones. Both bands had strong blues roots, used two guitars, and it didn't help that Tyler looked a lot like Mick Jagger.
The drug problems and personal differences have never entirely left, but it didn't take long for Aerosmith to establish their own identity, and to ultimately become one of the the most successful rock bands ever, with worldwide album sales exceeding 150-million.
Aerosmith's Rise, Fall, Resurrection:
Their first two albums, Aerosmith (1973) and Get Your Wings (1974) got a lukewarm reception. They broke through with 1975's Toys in the Attic, to this day their bestselling album in the US. Rocks (1976) and Draw the Line (1977) continued the multi-Platinum sales success.
The wheels started to come off the tracks when, during the sessions for 1979's Night in the Ruts Perry abruptly quit after the latest in a series of fights with his bandmates. Several guitarists were called on to finish Perry's parts, one of whom, Jimmy Crespo, ultimately replaced him. The album was well received by critics, but quickly dropped off the charts.
In 1981, while they were recording Rock in a Hard Place Whitford quit after laying down one track, replaced by Rick Dufay. When the album was released in 1982, the reviews were largely negative and the sales tepid.
Perry and Whitford returned in 1984 but the highly touted "reunion" album, Done With Mirrors didn't fare any better than the previous one. It took all of the band going through drug rehab, and reaching out to songwriters outside the band, for Aerosmith's real comeback with Permanent Vacation in 1987, their best selling album since Toys in the Attic. Their next five albums -- Pump in 1989, Get a Grip in 1993, Nine Lives in 1997, Just Push Play in 2001 and Honkin' on Bobo in 2004 -- made it to the Top 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. Their tours (of which there have been more than two dozen since 1973) have seen similar success
Aerosmith in the 21st CenturyThe band marked the new millenium by playing the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXV in 2001, but by the end of the first decade of the 2000s, their future was once again uncertain.
In-fighting and drug problems continued, with the addition of injuries and health issues. Tyler was treated for hepatitis and had surgery for vocal cord damage. Hamilton was treated for throat cancer. Whitford was sidelined for a while with a head injury, and Tyler (still in and out of drug rehab) was twice hospitalized after being injured during performances.
By the end of 2009, Tyler appeared intent on going solo, releasing an autobiography and a new single, and becoming a judge on American Idol. At one point, the band went so far as to announce they were searching for a replacement, but ultimately Aerosmith (Tyler included) went back on tour in 2010.
Essential album: Toys in the Attic (purchase/download)
"Walk This Way"
"Janie's Got a Gun"