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Aerosmith, American heavy metal band. One of the biggest arena-rock attractions of the late 1970s, Aerosmith became even more popular with its career revival in the mid-1980s. The band's best-known line-up were lead singer Steven Tyler (byname of Steven Tallarico; b. March 26, 1948, New York, New York, U.S. vocals), lead guitarist Joe Perry (b. September 10, 1950, Boston, Massachusetts, guitar), guitarist Brad Whitford (b. February 23, 1952, Winchester, Massachusetts, guitar), bassist Tom Hamilton (b. December 31, 1951, Colorado Springs, Colorado, bass), and drummer Joey Kramer (b. June 21, 1950, New York City, drums).
Aerosmith was initially dismissed by critics, who saw them as imitators of the Rolling Stones, in part because of Tyler's physical resemblance to Mick Jagger. However, by 1976 they were major stars and ended up being very influential on subsequent bands in their own right. Although sometimes considered a heavy metal band, their loose rhythmic feel, Perry's blue-style guitar solos and Tyler's diverse lyrical topics separate them from that genre. They have succeeded with riff-oriented rock songs but also power ballads such as Dream on (1973); the exceptionally supple voice of Tyler, the lead singer, has performed both sensitive ballads and with a convincing rock swagger. Drug problems derailed Aerosmith for a time, but the band managed an extraordinary comeback in the late 1980s. Many of their songs dealt with such standard topics as rebellion, danger and love, using familiar rock musical techniques, but the collaboration of Tyler and Perry with the rappers Run-D.M.C. on Walk this way (1986) helped bring rap music to mainstream attention; a song that frankly and sympathetically addressed the problem of incest, Janie's got a gun (1989), won a Grammy award in 1990. Their most critically-celebrated album was Rocks (CBS, 1976).
Aerosmith played bluesy, swaggering rock most reminiscent of the Rolling Stones. (Indeed, vocalist Tyler — the band's driving force, along with guitarist Perry — resembled Mick Jagger.) Their later work also incorporated country music influences. Toys in the Attic (1975) and Rocks (1976) were multimillion sellers, but substance abuse and a dearth of creativity led to a period of inactivity for the band in the early 1980s. In 1986, two years after the return of Perry (who had left the band in 1979), Aerosmith returned to the limelight when Run-D.M.C. made a rap version of the band's 1975 hit "Walk This Way." Converted to sobriety, Aerosmith produced the multiplatinum-selling albums Permanent Vacation (1987) and Pump (1989). The latter featured the Grammy Award-winning "Janie's Got a Gun," and it marked a return to the hard rock success of Toys in the Attic. The band followed with Get a Grip (1993), an album that generated a pair of Grammys for the singles "Livin' on the Edge" and "Crazy." During this time, Aerosmith was a constant presence on MTV, and the group won numerous music video awards. The band's next release, Nine Lives (1997), reached the top of the Billboard album chart, and the single "Pink" garnered a Grammy.
Later albums include Just Push Play (2001) and the blues tribute Honkin' on Bobo (2004). In 2008 the band starred in the console video game Guitar Hero Aerosmith, in which players could perform some of the group's greatest hits in a variety of virtual settings. A public feud between Tyler and Perry in 2009 fueled rumours of a possible breakup, with Perry suggesting that Aerosmith would find a replacement lead singer. Tyler underwent drug rehabilitation, returning to front the band for a summer 2010 tour, and he later served (2011–12) as a judge on the reality television show American Idol" class="md-crosslink">American Idol. Aerosmith released Music from Another Dimension! in 2012, and the band continued to tour thereafter. In 2001 Aerosmith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Drummer Joey Kramer recalls in an interview: "My old girlfriend Patty Bourdon keeps telling me that she and I came up with the name while we were sitting in her room listening to Harry Nilsson's album Aerial Ballet, which had Everybody's Talkin' on it. We were thinking of cool names and the whole 'Aero-something' got hatched."
Note Kramer's wording of Bourdon's account, "keeps telling me". Elsewhere it was previously suggested he was piecing together words Scrabble-style and chose "aerospace" and "songsmith". The result was meaningless but sounded good. Either way, it was offered to his schoolboy band, Strawberry Ripple, and rejected.
Kramer wasn't that interested in lessons, and would sit doodling the word on his textbooks and ring binder. In 1998, contacted by the author, Kramer also confirmed there was no relation to Henry Sinclair Lewis' 1925 novel Arrowsmith, a book "everyone hated in high school". The name produced the same reaction, he said, when he first pitched it to his later group, The Jam Band, until they got the spelling.
Bassist Tom Hamilton recalled: "We had to find a name that somehow matched the power of the band and gave you the same sense of 'lift' that we got when we played together."
Also known as The Boys From Boston, and, in part, as The Toxic Twins.
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