In 1970, the first incarnation of Aerosmith formed when vocalist Steven Tyler met guitarist Joe Perry while working at a Sunapee, New Hampshire, ice cream parlor. Tyler, who originally was a drummer, and Perry decided to form a power trio with bassist Tom Hamilton. The group soon expanded to a quartet, adding a second guitarist called Ray Tabano; he was quickly replaced by Brad Whitford, a former member of Earth Inc. With the addition of drummer Joey Kramer, Tyler became the full-time lead singer by the end of year. Aerosmith relocated to Boston at the end of 1970.
After playing clubs in the Massachusetts and New York areas for two years, the group landed a record contract with Columbia Records in 1972. Aerosmith's self-titled debut album was released in the fall of 1973, climbing to number 166. "Dream On" was released as the first single and it was a minor hit, reaching number 59. For the next year, the band built a fan base by touring America, supporting groups as diverse as the Kinks, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Sha Na Na, and Mott the Hoople. The performance of Get Your Wings (1974), the group's second album and the first produced by Jack Douglas, benefited from their constant touring, spending a total of 86 weeks on the chart.
Aerosmith's third record, 1975's Toys in the Attic, was their breakthrough album both commercially and artistically. By the time it was recorded, the band's sound had developed into a sleek, hard-driving hard rock powered by simple, almost brutal, blues-based riffs. Many critics at the time labeled the group as punk rockers, and it's easy to see why -- instead of adhering to the world music pretensions of Led Zeppelin or the prolonged gloomy mysticism of Black Sabbath, Aerosmith stripped heavy metal to its basic core, spitting out spare riffs that not only rocked, but rolled. Steven Tyler's lyrics were filled with double entendres and clever jokes, and the entire band had a streetwise charisma that separated it from the heavy, lumbering arena rockers of the era. Toys in the Attic captured the essence of the newly invigorated Aerosmith. "Sweet Emotion," the first single from Toys in the Attic, broke into the Top 40 in the summer of 1975, with the album reaching number 11 shortly afterward. Its success prompted the re-release of the power ballad "Dream On," which shot into the Top Ten in early 1976. Both Aerosmith and Get Your Wings climbed back up the charts in the wake of Toys in the Attic. "Walk This Way," the final single from Toys in the Attic, was released around the time of the group's new 1976 album, Rocks. Although it didn't feature a Top Ten hit like "Walk This Way," Rocks went platinum quickly, peaking at number three.
In early 1977, Aerosmith took a break and prepared material for their fifth album. Released late in 1977, Draw the Line was another hit, climbing to number 11 on the U.S. charts, but it showed signs of exhaustion. In addition to another tour in 1978, the band appeared in the movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, performing "Come Together," which eventually became a number 23 hit. Live! Bootleg appeared late in 1978 and became another success, reaching number 13. Aerosmith recorded Night in the Ruts in 1979, releasing the record at the end of the year. By the time of its release, Joe Perry had left the band to form the Joe Perry Project. Night in the Ruts performed respectably, climbing to number 14 and going gold, yet it was the least successful Aerosmith record to date. Brad Whitford left the group in early 1980, forming the Whitsford-St. Holmes Band with former Ted Nugent guitarist Derek St. Holmes.
As Aerosmith regrouped with new guitarists Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay, the band released Aerosmith's Greatest Hits in late 1980; the record would eventually sell over six million copies. The new lineup of Aerosmith released Rock in a Hard Place in 1982. Peaking at number 32, it failed to match the performance of Night in the Ruts. Perry and Whitford returned to the band in 1984 and the group began a reunion tour dubbed Back in the Saddle. Early in the tour, Tyler collapsed on-stage, offering proof that the bandmembers hadn't conquered their notorious drug and alcohol addictions. The following year, Aerosmith released Done with Mirrors, the original lineup's first record since 1979 and their first for Geffen Records. Although it didn't perform as well as Rock in a Hard Place, the album showed that the band was revitalized.
After the release of Done with Mirrors, Tyler and Perry completed rehabilitation programs. In 1986, the pair appeared on Run-D.M.C.'s cover of "Walk This Way," along with appearing in the video. "Walk This Way" became a hit, reaching number four and receiving saturation airplay on MTV. "Walk This Way" set the stage for the band's full-scale comeback effort, the Bruce Fairbairn-produced Permanent Vacation (1987). Tyler and Perry collaborated with professional hard rock songwriters like Holly Knight and Desmond Child, resulting in the hits "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)," "Rag Doll," and "Angel." Permanent Vacation peaked at number 11 and sold over three million copies.
Pump, released in 1989, continued the band's winning streak, reaching number five, selling over four million copies, and spawning the Top Ten singles "Love in an Elevator," "Janie's Got a Gun," and "What It Takes." Aerosmith released Get a Grip in 1993. Like Permanent Vacation and Pump, Get a Grip was produced by Bruce Fairbairn and featured significant contributions by professional songwriters. The album was as successful as the band's previous two records, featuring the hit singles "Livin' on the Edge," "Cryin'," and "Amazing." In 1994, Aerosmith released Big Ones, a compilation of hits from their Geffen years that fulfilled their contract with the label; it went double platinum shortly after its release.
The making of Aerosmith albums usually had been difficult affairs, but the recording of Nine Lives was plagued with bad luck. The band went through a number of producers and songwriters before settling on Kevin Shirley in 1996. More damaging, however, was the dismissal of the band's manager, Tim Collins, who'd been responsible for bringing the band back from the brink of addiction. Upon his firing, Collins insinuated that Steven Tyler was using hard drugs again, an allegation that Aerosmith adamantly denied.
Under such circumstances, recording became quite difficult, and when Nine Lives finally appeared in the spring of 1997, it was greeted with great anticipation, yet the initial reviews were mixed and even though album debuted at number one, it quickly fell down the charts. The live A Little South of Sanity followed in 1998. Three years later, Aerosmith strutted their stuff on the Super Bowl halftime special on CBS with the likes of Mary J. Blige, Nelly, *NSYNC, and Britney Spears, just prior to issuing their heart-stomping Just Push Play in March 2001. Next up for the band was a blues album, Honkin' on Bobo, released in 2004, along with two live album/DVDs, You Gotta Move and Rockin' the Joint. Another greatest-hits collection, Devil's Got a New Disguise: The Very Best of Aerosmith arrived in 2006.
From there, Aerosmith entered a period of volatility. A world tour followed in 2007 and the group attempted to record a new studio album with producer Brendan O'Brien but the sessions were never finalized. Instead, another tour followed in 2009, this time a supporting jaunt for Aerosmith's own special edition of the Guitar Hero video game. This tour proved to be ill-fated, with Steven Tyler suffering a leg injury in June, then falling off the stage in August, leading to the cancellation of the subsequent dates. As 2009 came to a close, Joe Perry released a solo album called Have Guitar, Will Travel as Tyler announced that he was planning on "working on the brand of myself," which included working on an autobiography and a solo album, along with a stint in rehab to wean himself off painkillers prescribed due to his stage injuries.
Before Tyler embarked on solo projects, he returned to the band for a series of concerts in 2010, in the midst of which it was announced that the singer would be a new judge on the televised singing competition American Idol. Perry voiced his dissatisfaction in the press but Tyler's time on American Idol helped raise the band's profile, while providing a platform for Tyler's memoir, Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? The book performed better than his two solo singles -- 2010's "Love Lives" and 2011's "(It) Feels So Good" -- singles that did not wind up signaling his departure from Aerosmith. Tyler continued to tour with the band and in 2011 they recorded a new album with producer Jack Douglas, the man who helmed their classic '70s LPs. Originally scheduled for release in summer of 2012, Music from Another Dimension! wound up being pushed back to that year's holiday season, by which time Tyler had departed his judgeship on American Idol.
I have always been a huge Aerosmith fan. I love how their ae equally at home rocking out as they are performing ballads. In high school Rocks, Toys In The Attic, Aerosmith, Night In the Ruts and Draw The Line were in constant rotation on the cassette player. I was a fan before their late 80s resurgence and I still distinctly remember having a conversation about how washed up they were. They Back In The Saddle reunion tour fell short of expectations and was almost comical. There were a lot of jokes about how poorly the band was doing and how much Tyler and Perry hated each other. There were rumors that Tyler tried to punch Joe on stage. We thought about going to a concert just to see what insanity might happen. Sort of like going to a hockey game just to watch the fights. In the end we passed because we didn't want to see our heroes this way.
I believe in miracles. And, by some great miracle, Aerosmith bounced back with a vengeance. Their collaboration with Run DMC and then they returned with a killer album. Their strongest and best since Rocks. The band I loved was back. I saw them live early on the Permanent Vacation tour in late 1987. We bought 4th row floor seats from scalpers for very little money. The show was half full. But the band hit the stage like their were playing for millions. Raw, gritty and powerful. They did not disappoint and blew the roof off the joint. Their is no better frontman than Steven Tyler. I went to see them again 6 months later and they were selling out stadiums. Amazing!
There are two camps of Aerosmith fans. Those who love the new albums and those who love the old stuff. I am a fan of both periods equally. My 'old' Aerosmith favorite is Rocks. Any hardcore Aerosmith fan will choose that album. A close second is Toys In The Attic. I love their debut but Tyler's voice sounds so young and the recording is so lacking that it is tough to get into sometimes. The exception is Dream On. I wish the band could have worked with their 70s producer Jack Douglas on this debut. My favorite 'new' Aerosmith album is Pump. This album had the least input from outside writers and has that gritty sound I love so much. I remember the fans thought the guitar could have been louder. I still think it's a killer album!
The Winner Is...
The Fans Pick Toys In The Attic as the best Aerosmith album