Aerosmith—singer Steven Tyler, guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer—has been one of the most enduring and resilient bands in American music history. On the eve of the group’s Park MGM residency, we revisit the career phases that led it to the Las Vegas Strip.
The band formed in 1970 and signed to Columbia Records in 1972, but its first two albums were met with little fanfare. Tyler even kept his real singing voice under wraps as the quintet found its footing with sparse and somewhat rootsy songs. They might play: “Dream On,” “Mama Kin,” “Same Old Song and Dance,” “Train Kept A-Rollin’.”
Tyler—known as the Demon of Screamin’ for his bombastic shriek—and the moodily enigmatic Perry helped send 1975’s Toys in the Attic and 1976’s Rocks up the Billboard charts to RIAA multi-platinum status. They might play: “Walk This Way,” “Sweet Emotion,” “Last Child,” “Back in the Saddle.”
Fall and Rise
Warring creative tensions and escalating drug use earned Tyler and Perry their Toxic Twins nickname during the 1970s, and led to the band bottoming out as a cohesive unit. Perry departed in 1979, followed by Whitford in 1981. After both returned in 1984, the band signed with Geffen Records, but 1985’s Done With Mirrors suffered from lingering resentments and substances circulating in the group’s collective bloodstream. They might play: “Draw the Line,” “Kings and Queens,” “Come Together,” “Chip Away the Stone.”
Thanks to the new network showcasing music videos ’round the clock and 1986’s cross-genre collaboration with rap royalty Run-DMC, the mid-’80s through early-’90s found a second generation of fans discovering a decidedly tamer, more corporate-minded incarnation of their parents’ favorite troublemakers. (Star power courtesy of a teenage Alicia Silverstone didn’t hurt, either.) Album sales of Permanent Vacation, Pump and Get a Grip rivaled—and in some cases outstripped—that of Aerosmith’s ’70s heyday. They might play: “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “Angel,” “Love in an Elevator,” “Living on the Edge,” “Cryin,’” “Crazy,” “Amazing.”
Pop Turning Point
With 1997’s Nine Lives marking Aerosmith’s final full-fledged rock effort, the next year’s globally inescapable Armageddon soundtrack ballad, “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” improbably became the band’s biggest single of all time. In 2001, the group played the Super Bowl 35 halftime show and earned induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They might play: “Pink,” “Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees),” “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” “Jaded.”
Following 2008’s Guitar Hero edition and Tyler’s two-season stint as an American Idol judge, a subsequent decade of world tours, charity work, solo albums, blues revivals and overcoming medical maladies (Tyler’s addiction to painkillers for a bum knee, Perry’s onstage collapse) helped cement Aerosmith’s cultural legacy as one of the most inspirational stories in the music business.
AEROSMITH: DEUCES ARE WILD April 6, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 21, 23 & 26, 8 p.m., $69+. Park Theater, 702-730-7777.