Aerosmith defined the ideal image of a hard rock band. They released classic album after classic album while also making headlines with their wild antics and rampant substance abuse. It wasn’t always smooth sailing either; Aerosmith came close to crashing and burning—both literally and figuratively—several times, but they continued to endure and made one of the most explosive comebacks in rock history. Here are 42 hard-rocking facts about Aerosmith.
42. Making it Rain!
Even to this day, Aerosmith is the best-selling American rock band of all time. They’ve sold more than 70 million albums in the US. If we’re talking worldwide sales, that number jumps to more than 150 million!
41. Grammy Glory
Aerosmith has won four Grammy awards throughout their existence. Of those four awards, they were all won during the ‘90s and they were all for “Best Rock Performance by a Duo of Group with Vocal.” These awards were for the songs “Crazy,” “Pink,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” and “Livin’ on the Edge.”
40. Keep the Awards Coming
In addition to their four Grammy Awards, Aerosmith have also won ten MTV Video Music Awards and six American Music Awards.
39. Roll Call!
In total, Aerosmith has had nine members. One of them, Buck Johnson, has served as a touring member since 2014. Three others quit the band in 1971 and 1984 respectively. The current lineup is Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford, and Joey Kramer.
38. Oh What’s in a Name?
The origins of Aerosmith’s name began, as with so many other rock bands, when the members of Aerosmith were sitting around getting high. In between reruns of The Three Stooges, Joey Kramer reflected that he had spent his childhood writing the word “Aerosmith” on his notebooks. The band was skeptical about the word, but only because they thought he’d meant “Arrowsmith,” which is the title of a book by Sinclair Lewis.
37. Out Before the Going Got Good
The shortest-lived member of Aerosmith was Ray Tabano. Tabano had been a childhood friend of Steven Tyler’s, and he was later hired by the band in 1970. However, Tabano parted ways with the band in 1971 and was replaced by Brad Whitford.
36. The Day Aerosmith was Born
In the ‘60s, Steven Tyler formed the band Chain Reaction while he was still living in Yonkers, NY. Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, and Joey Kramer were in another band called Jam Band (a bit on the nose, boys). In 1970, the two bands played the same gig in Boston. Tyler and Kramer had known each other before that day but hearing each other play was the magic moment. The members of both bands decided to merge into one, with Tyler becoming the front man after having previously been the drummer of Chain Reaction.
35. Are They a Tribute Band?
When Aerosmith first began playing music, and even when their first two albums were released, they were written off by many as ripping off the Rolling Stones. This was partly due to Aerosmith’s blues-rock sound and also because Steven Tyler bore a striking resemblance to Mick Jagger!
34. There Are Worse Nicknames Out There… Right?
Over time, Aerosmith became as known for their substance abuse as much as their music. In fact, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry’s legendary partying led them to being referred to as the “Toxic Twins.”
33. Hurrah for the Boob Tube
One way that Aerosmith cemented their legacy during the early 1990s was through television. In what’s been hailed as one of the best moments in the history of Saturday Night Live, Aerosmith appeared in a “Wayne’s World” sketch. They also memorably guest-starred in an episode of The Simpsons and performed on MTV’s Unplugged series.
32. Remember Us?
Speaking of their “Wayne’s World” cameo, Aerosmith also joined Mike Myers and Dana Carvey for their transition to the big screen. Aerosmith appeared in Wayne’s World 2, performing two of their songs.
31. Bad Times on the Horizon
Despite the wild success of their first four albums, or perhaps because of that, Aerosmith began to falter around the time they were recording Draw the Line in 1976. Joe Perry later admitted that Aerosmith had turned into “drug addicts dabbling in music rather than musicians dabbling in drugs.” Perry also referred to that time as “the beginning of the end” for Aerosmith (more on that later).
30. Thanks Jack!
In late 1973, Aerosmith began recording Get Your Wings. In this endeavor, they were joined by producer Jack Douglas for the first time. Douglas would produce Get Your Wings and the following four Aerosmith albums.
29. We All Start Somewhere
The music video for Aerosmith’s song “Janie’s Got a Gun” was directed by a young David Fincher. He would go on to have a prominent film career, directing such classics as Zodiac, Fight Club, and Se7en.
28. Hall of Famers Who Aren’t Done Rocking Yet
In 2001, Aerosmith was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What makes this induction unique is the fact that they’re so far the only band to be inducted while one of their songs was active on the charts (in case you’re wondering, it was “Jaded”).
27. It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better
The production of Aerosmith’s 1997 album Nine Lives was one of their most troubled productions.
First, drummer Joey Kramer was grieving his father and struggling with depression. He took time off as a result, with Steve Ferrone brought in as a replacement.
However, the band had also had enough of their manager, Tim Collins. Collins allegedly spread discord amongst the band by pitting them against each other. Not only that, the band’s record label was dissatisfied with how the songs were turning out.
When Kramer returned, the band decided to re-record everything from scratch. They even renamed the album to Nine Lives as a reference to all this strife!
26. A Stellar Lineup
One of Aerosmith’s more unique accomplishments during the 1970s was appearing in the film adaptation of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Among the many famous figures who made up the cast were the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, Steve Martin, Alice Cooper, Heart, Tina Turner, and Frankie Valli.
25. Getting Out While It’s Bad
Joe Perry’s 1979 departure from Aerosmith came at a very bad time for the band: Aerosmith was struggling to finish their album Night in the Ruts. The studio was also pressuring Aerosmith to give them another hit album after Draw the Line underperformed. New band members were brought in to finish the album, but everyone would end up disappointed by Night in the Ruts, which proved a surprisingly apt choice of title for that album.
24. Our High-Water Mark
At more than eight million records sold, Toys in the Attic remains to be Aerosmith’s highest-selling studio album.
23. We All Start Out Somewhere
Before she was a star, Alicia Silverstone was known as “the Aerosmith chick.” She earned this nickname by appearing in the music videos for their hit singles “Amazing,” “Cryin’,” and “Crazy.”
22. Talk About a Laid-Back Dad…
Speaking of “Crazy,” the music video for that one raised a few eyebrows back in the day. The video features two young ladies lying their way into a pole-dancing competition, only to go skinny dipping with a young farmer. In case you’re curious who the other actress in the video was alongside Alicia Silverstone, it was Steven Tyler’s daughter, Liv! In fact, the video made sure to make parallels between Steven and Liv’s suggestive dancing.
21. The Downside Was We Accidentally Paved the Way for Limp Bizkit
In 1986, Run-D.M.C. covered Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” Not only did the band give their blessing, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry actually worked on the cover as well. This blend of hip-hop and rock was ultimately the real comeback that Aerosmith needed to resurrect their success.
20. Legend Begets Another Legend
One other band which was inspired by Aerosmith was none other than the huge rock band known as Van Halen! According to Joe Perry, he was told by Eddie Van Halen that Van Halen had gotten their break after they’d toured clubs in Los Angeles while playing Aerosmith songs.
19. Aren’t We on the Same Team??
Aerosmith’s first album, also titled Aerosmith, was first released in 1973. Not only was it unsuccessful, but Rolling Stone magazine didn’t even bother to review it. This might have had something to do with Columbia Records giving far more attention to the debut album of another up-and-coming musician—a young boss named Bruce Springsteen!
18. You’ve Got a Fan in Me
Despite all the negativity, Aerosmith did manage to impress a man named Izzy Stradlin. You might know him as the guitarist for the hard rock band Guns & Roses. Coincidentally, Guns & Roses would later tour alongside Aerosmith, presumably leading to Stradlin eagerly asking Steven Tyler for an autograph.
17. A Rare Second Life
Aerosmith was actually re-released in 1976 after Get Your Wings and Toys in the Attic turned Aerosmith into superstars. In an impressive example of revisionism, Aerosmith and its top single, “Dream On,” became enthusiastically received. “Dream On” even became a top ten single this second time around!
16. Rock On!
Any fans of Guitar Hero will know that the video game series included a game entirely devoted to Aerosmith’s music. Guitar Hero: Aerosmith was released in 2008, having been created with the band’s cooperation.
15. Selling Out for Nepotism
For all their success, Aerosmith’s one and only single to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 was the love ballad “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” which they recorded for the movie Armageddon—which happened to co-star Steven Tyler’s daughter, Liv. Not content with that prestige, the song also got Oscar-nominated for Best Song. Yes, Armageddon is an Oscar-nominated film. Good grief…
14. Let’s Get Sober
One person who was crucial to Aerosmith’s comeback was manager Tim Collins. Collins promised the band that if they could get clean, he would make them the biggest band in the world by 1990. Despite years of addiction, the band fulfilled their end of the bargain during the late-‘80s.
13. Things Are Going Fine!
While Collins didn’t quite make Aerosmith the biggest band in the world by 1990, he came very close. The late 1980s saw Aerosmith release Permanent Vacation and Pump. These albums were hugely successful, selling millions of copies each and providing the world with singles like “Angel,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “Love in an Elevator,” and “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).”
12. A Day to Be Celebrated
In 2002, MTV honored Aerosmith with the MTV Icon award for their contributions to music and pop culture—not to mention all those music videos which MTV played back in the day. Various artists paid tribute to the band, with some of them performing classic Aerosmith songs for the occasion. Pink performed “Janie’s Got a Gun” and “Sweet Emotion” was performed by Papa Roach, while Kid Rock covered “Mama Kin.”
11. Did They Have Buyer’s Remorse After?
Another movie which Aerosmith contributed a song for was 2000’s Charlie’s Angels. Not exactly one of the classics, Aerosmith…
10. Turning Embarrassment Into a Hit Song
At one point, Steven Tyler found himself hanging out in a bar. That in itself wasn’t unique for Tyler, nor was the moment when he found himself checking out a beautiful woman who was sitting with her back to him. The surprise was that when the “woman” turned around, Tyler found himself looking at Vince Neil, the lead singer of Motley Crue! Aside from being a goof on Tyler’s part, this moment would go on to inspire Aerosmith’s song “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).”
9. Close Call
In an alarming twist to their 2005-2006 tour with Lenny Kravitz, Aerosmith was forced to back out when Steven Tyler required throat surgery. They didn’t publicly perform again until the summer of 2006, alongside the Boston Pops Orchestra.
8. An Album to Inspire Rock Stars
One of the highlights of Aerosmith’s career would have to be their 1976 album Rocks. Don’t take our word for it, though; several other rock stars have named Rocks as a major reason which made them pursue music. This includes Slash from Guns & Roses, Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue, James Hetfield from Metallica, and Kurt Cobain from Nirvana.
7. For the Kids?
In perhaps their most head-scratching choice of film, Aerosmith recorded the song “Lizard Love” for the movie Rugrats Go Wild.
6. Let’s Get Funky! They Still Say that, Right?
According to Brad Whitford, the 1989 album Pump was so named because “Now that we’re off drugs, we’re all pumped up.” The album was famous for a much higher number of sexual themes than their previous albums. In fact, the lyrics weren’t included because the record label feared enraged parents’ opinions. Steven Tyler justified the sexual content by explaining that after all the time he’d wasted on drugs instead of sex during the ‘70s, he was “making up for lost time.”
5. Patchy Memory
One of the most ambitious songs from Toys in the Attic, let alone Aerosmith’s entire discography, is the song “You See Me Crying.” Unique for Aerosmith, the song featured a symphony orchestra to add musical layers to the ballad.
While Steven Tyler had been very enthusiastic about getting it made, a rather bizarre moment occurred when he heard the song on the radio in 1984. Due to his constant slaubstance use, Tyler had completely forgotten about all the time he’d spent on “You See Me Crying.” When he suggested to his fellow band members that they should make a cover version of that song, Perry promptly told him “It’s us, [bleep]head.”
4. There but for the Grace of God Go We
In 1977, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry wanted to rent a plane for touring purposes. They had their eyes on a Convair CV-300, so an inspection was made. On top of the signs of an unsafe plane, someone pointed out to the band that the pilot and co-pilot of the plane were allegedly sharing a bottle of whiskey. Again, during the safety inspection! This was too far, even for Aerosmith, but the plane found another bunch of customers. Lynyrd Skynyrd ended up renting that plane for themselves. The plane would infamously crash, killing several members of the band, including their lead singer, Ronnie Van Zant.
3. Things Fall Apart
By the time Toys in the Attic was released, there were serious tensions growing within Aerosmith. Substance use only exacerbated the problem. In 1979, Aerosmith was at Cleveland Stadium to be part of the World Series of Rock festival. However, while they were there, Joe Perry and Tom Hamilton’s wives got into such a furious confrontation that it resulted in a glass of milk being thrown. Steven Tyler stepped in and “confronted Perry about his wife’s antics.” This led to Perry parting ways with Aerosmith—whether he was fired or quit depends on who’s telling the story.
2. Low Point
The early ‘80s were a terrible time for Aerosmith; modest album sales led to smaller venues, while substance use caused Steven Tyler to perform badly during shows and even collapse on stage. In 1980, Tyler was also involved in a motorcycle accident. His injuries were so bad that he couldn’t perform or record until the following year. Even when the band reunited with Jack Douglas in 1981 to make a new album, Brad Whitford left the band during the recording. Rock in a Hard Place didn’t reverse the downward trend that Aerosmith was on.
1. Silver Lining
Things didn’t turn around for Aerosmith until 1984, when the original members of the band worked out an agreement to reunite. While their comeback album, Done With Mirrors, wasn’t a smash hit, it did make them a popular touring act again.