Egos have never been a subtlety for Aerosmith. They are one of the most successful bands ever, selling over 150 million albums – and plenty more once lead singer Steven Tyler became a judge on American Idol in 2010. Much of the Aerosmith’s past conflicts have been between Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry, nicknamed the “Toxic Twins” for their collaborative party habits. But there have been plenty of other factors for near-breakups. Several incidents, from drug interventions to wife fights over spilled milk, contribute to the band’s tumultuous past. Some of the following events make it even more shocking Aerosmith are still going strong in 2013.
Joe Perry Quits the Band, Temporarily
Perry quit Aerosmith in 1979, ironically over actual spilled milk. During a 1979 show in Cleveland, Joe Perry’s wife threw a glass of milk at bassist Tom Hamilton’s wife after the latter made a passing remark. But that incident was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. Mounting drug abuse and miscommunication had been rampant the past year, and throughout the recording sessions of that year’s critically bashed album Night in the Ruts. Perry left mid-way through the recordings, and the rest of his parts were filled in by guest guitarists. Shortly after the milk incident, Tyler allegedly said he would never play on stage with Perry again. And we all know how that worked out. Perry would form The Joe Perry Project and release a few albums, but rekindle his friendship with Tyler and re-join Aerosmith in 1984. “You should have felt the buzz the moment all five of us got together in the same room for the first time again,” Tyler remarked. “We all started laughing. It was like the five years had never passed.”
1986: The Year of Drug Treatment
Aerosmith’s drug issues returned during their 1984 reunion tour, and by 1986 the band was in a rut despite having released the instantly popular Run DMC collaboration “Walk This Way” that year and Done with Mirrors a year earlier. Live performances began to suffer due to heavy drug use, and most of the members were experiencing writers’ block with cloudy heads in general. The band staged an intervention for Tyler, who underwent a drug rehab program successfully, and all other members followed suit. They released their 1987 album, Permanent Vacation, with relatively clear heads. It became one of the band’s most successful albums, selling over five million copies and featuring three singles that reached the Billboard Top 20. Continuing their streak, 1989’s Pump proved to be even more successful. The mass drug treatment effort paid great dividends, averting any potential break-up crisis that seemed imminent prior to the rehabilitations. It also proved to be a factor in the band’s sustained success through the ‘90s and ‘00s.
The 2009 Interview Conflicts
2009 was a tumultuous time for the band’s handling of the press. Aerosmith’s members issued conflicting statements regarding rumors of their alleged break-up. In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun in the fall of 2009, Perry implied that Tyler quit the band. “He has had no contact with me or the other band members,” said Perry. “I got off the plane two nights ago. I saw online that Steven said that he was going to leave the band. I don’t know for how long, indefinitely or whatever.” One final statement rang loudest: “Obviously, he hasn’t been giving 100% for a long time.” Drummer Joey Kramer was quick to respond, citing the usual that Perry’s comments had been taken out of context. “The band is together,” Kramer told WPLR. The press discrepancies settled down and Aerosmith were soon touring together, like old times. Still, it was no secret that Perry was becoming frustrated with Tyler returning to his former partying lifestyle. Long nights out on the town with then-girlfriend (and current ex-fiancee) Erin Brady and sidekick Justin Murdock were being well-documented by the press.
Steven Tyler vs. J. Geils (and Joe Perry)
Aerosmith and The J. Geils Band are revered in their native Massachusetts as much as the Boston Red Sox. They are rock ‘n’ roll staples of the state. Residents probably had mixed feelings when reports surfaced that the leaders of both groups clashed before a show in 2010 at Fenway Park. Tyler came face-to-face with J. Geils frontman Peter Wolf over stage space that extended into the crowd. To most concert-goers, it probably felt like two cool uncles fighting. The incident even created a rift between Tyler and Perry, yet again. Tyler told Wolf that he would agree to his provisions as long as Perry did. Perry, simply wanting to play the show, sided with Wolf, much to Tyler’s surprise. Most fans expected the two bands to converge at the end of the joint show for a special, one-of-a-kind collaborative performance. Likely due to the Tyler-Wolf feud, it never happened, and never will.