Throughout the 1970s, the band toured extensively and charted a dozen Hot 100 singles. By the end of the decade, they were among the most popular hard rock bands in the world and developed a loyal following of fans, often referred to as the “Blue Army”.
However, drug addiction and internal conflict took their toll on the band, which led to the departures of Perry and Whitford in 1979 and 1981, respectively; they were replaced by Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay. The band did not fare well between 1980 and 1984, releasing the album Rock in a Hard Place, which was certified gold but failed to match their previous successes.
Perry and Whitford returned to Aerosmith in 1984 and the band signed a new deal with Geffen Records. After a comeback tour, the band recorded Done with Mirrors (1985), which won some critical praise but failed to come close to commercial expectations.
It was not until the band’s collaboration with rap group Run–D.M.C. in 1986, and the 1987 multi-platinum release Permanent Vacation, that they regained the level of popularity they had experienced in the 1970s. In the late 1980s and 1990s, the band scored several hits and won numerous awards for music from the multi-platinum albums Pump (1989), Get a Grip (1993), and Nine Lives (1997), and embarked on their most extensive concert tours to date.
The band also became a pop culture phenomenon with popular music videos and notable appearances in television, film, and video games. Their comeback has been described as one of the most remarkable and spectacular in rock ‘n’ roll history. Additional albums followed in 2001, 2004, and 2012. Since 2001, the band has toured every year except 2008. After 45 years of performing, the band continues to tour and record music.
Aerosmith is the best-selling American hard rock band of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide, including over 70 million records in the United States alone. With 25 gold albums, 18 platinum albums, and 12 multi-platinum albums, they hold the record for the most total certifications by an American group and are tied for the most multi-platinum albums by an American group.
The band has scored 21 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, nine number-one Mainstream Rock hits, four Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, and ten MTV Video Music Awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and were included among both Rolling Stone’s and VH1’s lists of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2013, the band’s principal songwriters, Tyler and Perry, were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In 1964, Steven Tyler formed his own band called the Strangeurs—later Chain Reaction—in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Perry and Hamilton formed the Jam Band (commonly known as “Joe Perry’s Jam Band”), which was based on free-form and blues. Hamilton and Perry moved to Boston, Massachusetts in September 1969. There they met Joey Kramer, a drummer from Yonkers, New York. Kramer knew Tyler and had always hoped to play in a band with him. Kramer, a Berklee College of Music student, decided to quit school to join Jam Band.
In 1970, Chain Reaction and Jam Band played at the same gig. Tyler immediately loved Jam Band’s sound, and wanted to combine the two bands. In October 1970, the bands met up again and considered the proposition. Tyler, who had been a drummer and backup singer in Chain Reaction, adamantly refused to play drums in this new band, insisting he would only take part if he could be frontman and lead vocalist. The others agreed, and a new band was born. The band moved into a home together at 1325 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, where they wrote and rehearsed music together and relaxed in between shows.
The members of the band reportedly spent afternoons getting stoned and watching Three Stooges reruns. One day, they had a post-Stooges meeting to try to come up with a name. Kramer said when he was in school he would write the word aerosmith all over his notebooks.
The name had popped into his head after listening to Harry Nilsson’s album Aerial Ballet, which featured jacket art of a circus performer jumping out of a biplane. Initially, Kramer’s bandmates were unimpressed; they all thought he was referring to the Sinclair Lewis novel they were required to read in high school English class. “No, not Arrowsmith,” Kramer explained. “A-E-R-O…Aerosmith.” The band settled upon this name after also considering “the Hookers” and “Spike Jones.”
Soon, the band hired Ray Tabano, a childhood friend of Tyler, as rhythm guitarist and began playing local shows. Aerosmith played their first gig in Mendon, Massachusetts at Nipmuc Regional High School (now Miscoe Hill Middle School) on November 6, 1970. In 1971, Tabano was replaced by Brad Whitford, who also attended the Berklee School of Music and was formerly of the band Earth Inc.
Whitford, from Reading, Massachusetts, had already played at Reading’s AW Coolidge Middle School. Other than a period from July 1979 to April 1984, the line-up of Tyler, Perry, Hamilton, Kramer, and Whitford has stayed the same.
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