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Rock group. Although many critics of the 1970s dismissed the band as merely a vulgar imitation of the Rolling Stones and other British blues/rock acts, Aerosmith proved one of the most popular acts of the decade and succeeded in conveying their hard-rock style and attitude to a new generation of fans and musicians into the 1980s. Originally labeled rock's "toxic twins", founding members Steven Tyler and Joe Perry defeated alcoholism and drug use in the 1980s while retaining their characteristic anti-establishment charm and attitude. Chris Norris commented in Spin: "Aerosmith is as close to Hollywood as rock-n-roll gets. In their 25 years, the Boston crew of Tyler, Perry, guitarist Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton, and drummer Joey Kramer have gone from being the definitive 1970s hard-rock band to a textbook on economy, surliness, and soul to the ultimate comeback band brought back almost literally from the dead in the mid-1980s to the most bankable act in popular music."

Aerosmith began on the East Coast. Tyler was born Steven Tallarico, son of a second-generation Italian classical musician who played and taught music in Yonkers, New York. The Tallarico family also ran a resort in the Catskills in Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire, where Tyler and Perry, whose family had a summer house there, first met. Tyler formed his first band, The Strangeurs, later changing the band's name to Chain Reaction. In 1966, Tyler recorded two singles with Chain Reaction. Meanwhile, Perry and future Aerosmith bass guitarist Hamilton formed a combo, Pipe Dream (later Jam Band), also in Sunapee. In 1970, Perry, Tyler, and Hamilton (whose family also vacationed in Sunapee), formed Aerosmith, with Perry on guitar, Tyler on vocals, and Hamilton on bass guitar. Tyler commented on Perry's hard-edged guitar playing in a 1975 interview with Circus magazine: "I loved Joe's style. He always played out of tune and real sloppy and I just loved it." In 1971, the trio recruited rhythm guitar player Brad Whitford and drummer Joey Kramer and began playing in the Boston area. The band cultivated a young audience following their first successful appearance at Nipmuc Regional High School in Mendon, Massachusetts. Aerosmith signed with Columbia Records in 1972. The same year the band entered Intermedia Sound Studios to record their debut album, Aerosmith, which was recorded in only two weeks.

Although the album garnered little notice and achieved only modest financial success, Aerosmith garnered a generally positive critical response and introduced the band to the American public with their classic single "Dream On." "We weren't too ambitious when we started out," commented Tyler in Aerosmith Unwired. "We just wanted to be the biggest thing that ever walked the planet, the greatest rock band that ever was. We just wanted everything. We just wanted it all."

Aerosmith's second album, Get Your Wings, further cemented their growing reputation, but received mixed reviews. The album, like its predecessor, fell short of achieving blockbuster status and provoked sarcastic comparisons to the Rolling Stones. Charley Walters of Rolling Stone, however, asserted that Aerosmith's second album "surges with pent-up fury yet avoids the excesses to which many peers succumb {the album} contains the vital elements of economy and ill-advised solo extravaganzas." Get Your Wings remained on the charts for a total of 86 weeks. Between 1974-76, Aerosmith released many of their biggest hit singles, including "Same Old Song and Dance," "Sweet Emotion," and "Walk This Way." The band toured heavily as their venues became larger and press coverage correspondingly increased. According to Phil Hardy and Dave Laing in their Encyclopedia of Rock, the band's third album, Toys in the Attic, "represented a milestone in the band's career and became their first album to represent the perfect distillation of the Aerosmith sound, a muscular but surprisingly agile rhythm section with the twin guitars howling and snapping around Tyler's vocal lines." Toys in the Attic stayed on the charts for almost two years. "Coming after a brief era when rock-n-roll fans in their adolescence were bombarded with the exaggerated sexual ambiguity of Alice {Cooper}, {David} Bowie, and {Lou} Reed, it must be reassuring to have a band that knows everything we've wanted to know about sex all along: that it's dirty," commented Wayne Robins of Toys in the Attic, in Creem. Toys became the band's first platinum record and spawned several underground classics, including "No More," and the title cut "Toys in the Attic". Tyler reminisced about the album's sweeping success in all media quarters in Aerosmith Unwired: "I remember reading in a newspaper, in like 1976, about how disgusting rock lyrics are, and they used "Walk This Way" as an example of how lyrics should be nice and wholesome. I couldn't believe it. Obviously, they didn't get the meaning of 'you ain't seen nothin' til you're down on your muffin'."

Rocks followed the formula of Toys in the Attic, also achieving widespread critical and financial success.

"Back in the Saddle," "Sick as a Dog," and "Last Child" remained prominent requests on classic rock stations well into the 1990s. "We were doing a lot of .. drugs by then, but you can hear that whatever we were doing, it was still working for us," Perry mentioned in Aerosmith Unwired. Draw the Line, released on Columbia Records in 1978, went platinum faster than any previous Aerosmith album. The band's Draw The Line Tour lasted through 1978 and early 1979, and their previously hectic recording schedule slowed for the first time in their career. In 1978, Aerosmith released one live album, Live Bootleg, and made their Hollywood debut with an appearance in Robert Stigwood's ill-received film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, in which they covered the Beatles' "Come Together."

During the two-year tour that followed Draw the Line, Aerosmith developed a reputation for drug abuse of legendary proportions, and deep personal animosities developed between the primary band members. Tensions between Perry and Tyler escalated, and during the making of 1979's A Night in the Ruts, Perry bowed out to pursue a solo career with his own group, The Joe Perry Project. The band's 1980 debut, Let the Music Do the Talking, garnered Perry a minor hit with its title cut, and Perry did not return. Guitarist Jimmy Crespo replaced Perry and the band continued recording, keeping several tracks that Perry had recorded. However, shortly after A Night in the Ruts was completed, Brad Whitford left the band as well. In 1981, Aerosmith replaced Whitford with Rick Dufay. In late 1981, Tyler was injured in a motorcycle accident in which he had been drinking. The accident took off his heel and put him in a hospital for over six months. By the time Aerosmith's next album, Rock in a Hard Place, appeared in 1982, Tyler found that the band's popularity had been eclipsed by a wide range of second-generation heavy metal bands. In April of 1984, Aerosmith announced to the press that the original band would reunite and tour. "You should have felt the buzz the moment all five of us got together in the same room for the first time again," said Tyler. "We all started laughin, it was like the five years had never passed. We knew we'd made the right move." The band's members took their first steps toward defeating their various drug and alcohol addictions. After auditioning for Geffen Records, the band won a new contract. For their 1986 comeback album, Done with Mirrors, Aerosmith recruited heavyweight producer Ted Templeman, who had worked with Van Halen on its first six albums.

Recorded at the Power Station, the album was recorded quickly when, according to Perry, the band went in with some riffs and winged it. Som critics were skeptical about a sober Aerosmith, including a Stereo Review writer who suggested: "A mediocre Aerosmith concert was two hours of imitation Stones. A great Aerosmith concert was a two- minute sound check punctuated by Steve Tyler hurling a bottle of Jack Daniels against Perry's amplifier, followed by ten minutes of pugilism, after which the band would stumble off-stage." Although the album's sales were flat, possibly indicating that Aerosmith's once-loyal audience had lost faith, Aerosmith re-entered the charts for the first time in six years and successfully teamed with Run- DMC for a Rick Rubin-produced re-make of "Walk this Way." The cover was a hit and a new generation of young MTV viewers suddenly became interested in Aerosmith. Robert Christgau of the Village Voice asserted, "Against all odds the old farts light one up: if you can stand the crunch, you'll find more get-up-and-go on the first side {of Done with Mirrors} than on any dozen random neogarage EP's."

In 1987, Aerosmith achieved undeniable success following the release of their album Permanent Vacation. The recording went triple platinum and sold more than two million copies, featuring several blockbuster hits, including "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)," "Rag Doll," and "Angel." The album also signaled Aerosmith's introduction to the video medium, initiating a tradition of releasing some of the most popular videos MTV ever aired. Permanent Vacation drew largely positive comments from music reviewers. Deborah Frost commented in Rolling Stone: "{Aerosmith} has never worked with people so determined to turn it into Bon Jovi, Heart, or Starship. The good news is that it can't be done... The raw, dirty edges of the Aerosmith of old slash through the power schmaltz... The band has never sounded better or more charged."

Aerosmith continued to build upon their new, younger audience by touring with many of the groups they had helped to inspire, including Dokken, Guns-n-roses, and Poison. From 1987-88 the band produced two live albums, Classics Live! and Classics Live II, as well as a greatest hits compilation, Gems. In 1989, Aerosmith released their second chart-buster of the 1980s Pump, which went multi-platinum and garnered several MTV Awards as well as their first Grammy for "Janie's got a Gun," an uncharacteristically moral (at least in the traditional sense) song about child abuse.

Over the next seven years, Aerosmith garnered two more Grammys and many MTV Awards as they achieved increasing respectability for their ability to deliver high-charge rock while avoiding drugs during an era in which many rock stars succumbed to drug-related tragedies. In late 1991, Sony signed Aerosmith away from Geffen, investing an estimated 30 million dollars in the band despite the fact that their contract would not begin until 1997. In 1993, the band released Get a Grip, which sold over five million copies and scored Billboard hits with such singles as "Livin on the Edge," "Cryin," "Crazy," and "Amazing." The video "Crazy" especially dominated the MTV airwaves. Produced by Bruce Fairburn, Get a Grip featured several songs written with outside collaborators and featured the mixing talents of Atlanta-based producer Brendan O'Brien, who had formerly worked with the Black Crowes. Nine Lives, Aerosmith's 1997 release for Sony, appeared amidst public allegations of drug relapse and a flurry of personnel changes. The trouble first started when the band fired their producer, John Kalodner, and replaced him with Glen Ballard, who had initially been hired as a songwriter. Next, drummer Joey Kramer temporarily left following his father's death. Kramer was replaced by studio drummer Steve Ferrone. Well into the recording process, Sony communicated its dissatisfaction with the rough cuts of Nine Lives. "I think they were right," commented Whitford. "I was listening to them and I just thought, Huey Lewis." Aerosmith replaced Ballard with producer Kevin Shirley of Silverchair and Journey fame. Tyler commented of Ballard's release from the band: "the general consensus of the band and the corporation was that, mixed with the fact Joey wasn't down there when we did it, it might be to our advantage to re-record it with someone who has a little more of a rock head and is into the Aerosmith that we all know and love."

Norris characterized Nine Lives as "a rawly produced assertion of hard-rock supremacy, an attempt to fuse Aerosmith's 70s ragged glory with its 90s pop craft." The album failed to achieve the notoriety of previous major releases, but attracted some airplay with several cuts, including "Kiss Your Past Goodbye" and "Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)." "The group certainly hasn't lost any of its bite on Nine Lives," Gary Graff said in his Mr. Show Biz interview.

"From the eastern touches of "Taste of India" to the industrial clangor of "Something's Gotta Give," and the flick-your-Bic power balladry of "Ain't That a Bitch" and "Fallen Angels," Nine Lives is a consistently strong effort and a message that those who wonder if the band is losing its edge can, well, dream on."

Since the release of Nine Lives, the band has produced yet another greatest-hits compilation A Little South of Sanity (1998). Their latest album, Just Push Play, appeared in 2001. As a testament to Aerosmith's enduring popularity, the album and subsequent tour were linked with a highly publicized promotional deal with DaimlerChrysler.

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