Years Active: 1970 to present.
Group's Main Members: Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer
When Aerosmith blew out of Boston in the early 70s, lead lips Steven Tyler and guitar-slinger Joe Perry drew unfavorable comparisons to the "Glimmer Twins" of the Rolling Stones. But constant, impartial touring and their third record, the incomparable Toys in the Attic, catapulted the quintet into the pantheon of classic rock ensembles. Throwing off immortal sparks like "Sweet Emotion" and "Back in the Saddle," Aerosmith soon ruled the stages, airwaves and stereos of the States. But, life began to merge with art, and the Beantown boysı priority was scoring and soaring, as they sleepwalked through the dizzying heights they strove so hard to reach. Yet each Aero release has its merits: "Dream On" and "Mama Kin (Stevenıs tattoo)" off the ı73 self-titled debut are each on par with any rock standard. "SOS," from their second Get Your Wings (74), is a tight dirt-ball that many have tried to emulate, but only Aerosmith can deliver. "Seasons of Wither (quoted by Motley Crue in Shout at the Devilı)" shows the surprising depth of introspection behind the bandıs superior playing. The aforementioned Toys (75) and its follow-up Rocks (76)are finely-cut documents of hard-rock: Toys features the funky standard "Walk This Way," as well as the career-summarizing "No More No More" and the immaculate "You See Me Cry." Rocks contains the jerky "Last Child (quoted by Motley Crue in "Too Young to Fall in Love")," along with the decadent "Combination," and the shimmering "Sick as a Dog." Aerosmith was flying high as the greatest American band. But substance began taking over with the obviously titled Draw the Line (77), a vicious blooze-fest with chunks of greatness ( "Hand That Feeds") and a dangerously wasted vibe. The kegger Live Bootleg (78) followed before Night in the Ruts (79), which also seemed aptly titled; but though the band was losing to their lifestyles they still delivered the long-playing goods, with "Bone to Bone" standing as one of their best. Joe and rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford went their own way as Steven, bassman Brad Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer soldiered on three years and two new members later with the fascinating oddity Rock in a Hard Place (82). All original members gathered for Done with Mirrors (85), a satisfying return to form. But although they never released a bad record, Aerosmith now teetered on the brink of irrelevance, nearly top-sided by the plethora of dirty party bands they inspired. Change came in the mid 80s with a different producer, new management and outside songwriters as the band beat their demons. But when the smoke cleared, Aerosmith was a sleek commercial commodity, still capable of sublime moments, but rarely reaching the standard of their first nine records, each a vital addition to any collection of boss rock. -Stone