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Music / Aerosmith

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Aerosmith in recent years. From left to right: Brad Whitford, Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer.
Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
Sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away
— "Dream On"

Aerosmith is an American hard rock band, sometimes referred to as "The Bad Boys From Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock And Roll Band." Their style, rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop, heavy metal, glam, and rhythm and blues, which has inspired many subsequent rock artists. The band was formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970. Guitarist Joe Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton, originally in a band together called the Jam Band, met up with singer Steven Tyler, drummer Joey Kramer, and guitarist Ray Tabano, and formed Aerosmith. By 1971, Brad Whitford had replaced Tabano, and the band began developing a following in Boston. Their first gig under the name Aerosmith was at Mendon Nipmuc High School.

After a gig at Max's Kansas City, they signed a deal with Columbia Records and released a string of multi-platinum albums on the label, beginning with their eponymous 1973 debut album (their song "No Surprize" describes this series of events). In 1975, the band broke into the mainstream with the album Toys In The Attic, and their 1976 follow-up Rocks cemented their status as hard rock superstars. By the end of the 1970s, 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."


Drug addiction and internal conflict took their toll on the band, which resulted in the departures of Perry and Whitford in 1979 and 1981 respectively; Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay replaced them. The band did not fare well between 1980 and 1984, releasing a lone album - Rock In A Hard Place - which went gold but failed to match their previous successes.

Perry and Whitford returned in 1984 and the band signed a new deal with Geffen Records, but it wasn't until the band sobered up and did a groundbreaking crossover duet with rap group Run–D.M.C. of their old song, "Walk This Way," that things began to turn around; the success of the song catapulted Aerosmith back into the limelight, and it helped rocket rap music into the American mainstream in the process. The band released Permanent Vacation in 1987, which helped solidify their comeback, and all throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, they scored several hits and won numerous awards for music from the multi-platinum albums Pump (1989), Get A Grip (1993), and Nine Lives (1997). Their comeback has been described as one of the most remarkable and spectacular in rock 'n' roll history. After over 40 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 150 million albums worldwide, including 66.5 million albums in the United States alone. They also hold the record for the most gold and multi-platinum albums by an American group. The band has scored 21 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, nine #1 Mainstream Rock hits, four Grammy Awards, and ten MTV Video Music Awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and in 2005 they were ranked #57 in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

The band (as a whole) also starred in three video games thus far: the arcade Light Gun Game Revolution X, and a Guitar Hero game with their namesake, as well as a short lived virtual music game "Quest For Fame." Apparently, they have made more money off Guitar Hero: Aerosmith than they have off any of their albums.

The band ran into more problems in the late 2000s. Tensions arose as Tyler took time out to treatment for painkiller addiction and surgery as well as blindsiding the other members by becoming a judge on American Idol. With Tyler & Perry at loggerheads things got to the point where it was reported the band were looking for a new singer, however the band patched things up, started work on a new album and completed a combined South America/Asia tour in late 2011.

After recording and touring in 2012 and an ill-advised appearance on 60 Minutes that threatened to re-ignite old tensions in the band, their fifteenth studio album, Music From Another Dimension, was released in November 2012 to mixed reviews before Aerosmith completed the second leg of their tour in December 2012. The band continued to tour over the next couple of years, and Tyler released a solo country album in 2015.

The band are currently not under contract to any record label. A sixteenth and possibly final studio album has been under discussion, and the band embarked on what they said might be their final tour in 2016 - the European tour dates were advertised as the final chance to see Aerosmith live in those countries. The Aero-Vederci Baby! tour concluded in September 2017. Perry said that the band was planning to tour again for their 50th anniversary in 2019, but instead the band announced a residency in Las Vegas starting in 2019. This went ahead but was cut short due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and a planned European tour was also postponed. Brad Whitford has gone on record with his doubts about the band ever performing together again, citing dysfunctional relationships between the band members and their advancing age (all of them are around seventy years old or more).

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Jimmy Crespo - guitar, vocals (1979–84)
  • Rick Dufay - guitar, vocals (1981–84)
  • Tom Hamilton - bass, guitar, backing and lead vocals, synthesizer (1970–)
  • Joey Kramer - drums, percussion, vocals (1970–)
  • Joe Perry - guitar, backing and lead vocals, talkbox, bass, synthesizer (1970–79, 1984–)
  • Ray Tabano - guitar, vocals (1970–71)
  • Steven Tyler - lead vocals, keyboard, guitar, piano, harmonica, percussion, bass, mandolin, organ, drums (1970–)
  • Brad Whitford - guitar, vocals (1971–81, 1984–)

Studio and Live Discography:

  • 1973 - Aerosmith
  • 1974 - Get Your Wings
  • 1975 - Toys in the Attic
  • 1976 - Rocks
  • 1977 - Draw the Line
  • 1978 - Live! Bootleg
  • 1979 - Night in the Ruts
  • 1982 - Rock in a Hard Place
  • 1985 - Done with Mirrors
  • 1986 - Classics Live
  • 1987 - Classics Live II
  • 1987 - Permanent Vacation
  • 1989 - Pump
  • 1993 - Get a Grip
  • 1997 - Nine Lives
  • 1998 - A Little South of Sanity
  • 2001 - Just Push Play
  • 2004 - Honkin' on Bobo
  • 2005 - Rockin' the Joint
  • 2012 - Music from Another Dimension

"Tropes, tropes, tropes, a-in the attic":

Music Tropes

  • Alice Allusion: "Sunshine" from the Just Push Play album, which has lyrics mentioning following Alice into Wonderland.
  • Bawdy Song: Where should we begin with these?...
    • A crowning example of a Double Entendre: "Big Ten Inch Record". It's totally NOT about a Gag Penis. Seriously. It's just about a big 10"... record.
      Got me the strangest woman
      Believe me this chick's no cinch
      But I really get her going
      When I whip out my big 10 inch...
      Record of a band that plays the blues
  • Beat: Used to great effect in "Big Ten Inch Record", as noted above.
  • Big "YES!": Given their penchant for the Metal Scream, very present. Their catalogue even has a Greatest Hits Album and a song named "Oh Yeah".
  • Beautiful Dreamer: "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing" is about this.
  • Big Band: "Amazing", after its Big Rock Ending, cuts to an epilogue that is Big Band-style, with Steven Tyler saying good night to the audience.
  • Bookends: Music from Another Dimension opens and ends with a The Twilight Zone-esque narration to fit the album title.
  • Bowdlerize: One weird example is "Just Push Play". The song's chorus goes, "Just push play, fuckin' A! Just push play, they gonna bleep it anyway!" The line was obviously written counting on radio stations censoring the f-bomb. However, they recorded another version of it that changes the line completely: "Just push play, right away! Just push play, we're gonna do it anyway!"
  • Break the Cutie: What happens in the song "Janie's Got a Gun". Poor Janie.
  • Broken Record: The liner notes for "Round and Round" lists the ending as (x1,000,000). See also the climax of "Livin' On The Edge."
  • Call-Back: Occasionally their lyrics will reference older songs. "What It Takes," for example, has the line, "Girl, before I met you, I was F-I-N-E fine. But your love made me a prisoner, yeah my heart's been doin' time." "F.I.N.E*" and "Heart's Done Time" are both titles of other Aerosmith songs (the former of which from the same album, even).
    • As "F.I.N.E." winds down, Tyler sings a couple of altered lines from "Hangman Jury" (said lines originally from the spiritual "Elijah Rock".)
    • "Amazing" goes kind of meta with their Career Resurrection: "That one last shot's permanent vacation!"
    • "Simoriah" (1987) mentions the song title "Round and Round", and Steven Tyler briefly duplicates his throaty delivery from that song's chorus.
    • "Push Comes to Shove" (1982) mentions the song/album title "Toys in the Attic".
    • "Jailbait" (1982) mentions the song title "Bitch's Brew", from the same album.
    • "Let the Music Do the Talking" (1985) mentions the song title "Cheesecake", and throws in the primary riff from "Draw the Line".
    • "Get It Up" (1977) mentions the song title "Bright Light Fright", which follows it on the album Draw The Line.
    • "Legendary Child" (2012) quotes lyrics from both "Walk This Way" and "Adam's Apple".
    • "Eat the Rich"'s intro includes "I got the right key baby but the wrong keyhole", a lyric from "F.I.N.E."
  • Censored for Comedy: The last chorus of "Just Push Play" has "Just push play! Fuckin' A! Just push play! They're gonna *bleep* it anyway", with an actual bleep obscuring the word bleep, while "fuck" is left uncensored. This becomes amusing in radio broadcasts of the song, when BOTH are bleeped.
  • Cover Album: "Honkin' on Bobo", in which they cover old blues songs. "The Grind" is the only original song on the album.
  • Cover Version: "Walkin' the Dog" (Rufus Thomas, The Rolling Stones), "Train Kept A-Rollin'" (Tiny Bradshaw, The Yardbirds), "Big Ten Inch Record" (Bull Moose Jackson), "Remember (Walking in the Sand)" (The Shangri-Las), "Come Together", "I'm Down", and "Helter Skelter" (The Beatles)...
  • Darker and Edgier: Aerosmith's second album, Get Your Wings, sounds considerably darker lyrically than their debut. (This could also be interpreted as Hotter and Sexier, since the edginess is mostly sexual in nature.)
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: "Chip Away the Stone"
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Monkey on My Back". Credit for them talking from experience here.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Trope Namers. The song itself was a Shout-Out/friendly Take That! to Mötley Crüe's Vince Neil.
  • Dysfunction Junction: They're kind of legendary for it, and they've been called "America's longest-running dysfunctional family sitcom".
  • Eat the Rich: The song "Eat The Rich," of course.
  • Elevator Going Down: "Love in a Elevator". Again, Trope Namer.
  • Epic Rocking: Unusually for an Aerosmith album, Nine Lives features several tracks of at least five minutes in length: "Hole in My Soul" (6:10), "Taste of India" (5:53), "Full Circle" (5:00), "Ain't That a Bitch" (5:25), and "Fallen Angels" (8:16).
    • Their debut includes the seven-minute-long "One Way Street".
  • Fading into the Next Song:
    • Rocks has the siren that ends "Last Child" continuing onto "Rats In The Cellar", and "Sick As A Dog" segueing into "Nobody's Fault".
    • "Young Lust" segues into "F.I.N.E.*" in Pump.
    • Get Your Wings has the cheering that ends "Train Kept-A-Rollin'" continuing onto "Seasons of Wither" (where it then fades into the wind blowing).
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Critical Mass", from their 1977 album Draw the Line.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "F.I.N.E." (yes, the asterisk is part of the title)
  • Greatest Hits Album: Several
  • Her Heart Will Go On: "What It Takes", from the perspective of the dumped guy.
  • High-School Dance: "Walk This Way"
  • Hypocritical Humor: One may think this of the song "Eat the Rich," given that by the time Get A Grip was released the band were all multimillionaires, but it's ultimately subverted. The song rails against trust-fund babies who squander their inherited wealth, while the members of Aerosmith come from fairly humble, working-class roots and didn't become wealthy until the band hit it big.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: "Eat the Rich". Though the lyrics make it a little hard to tell if that's ''really'' what it's about.
  • Intercourse with You: Many, many songs, most notably "Walk this Way" and "Love in an Elevator".
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Subverted in "Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)", although it would have rhymed either way:
    My fantasize it must be out of luck
    My old libido has been blowing a transistor
    I feel like I have been hit by a fuck
  • Love Hurts: "Falling In Love (Is Hard On the Knees)".
  • Marilyn Maneuver: The cover of the Just Push Play album depicts a Fembot in a dress doing this.
  • Metal Scream: Steven is an expert at this.
  • Motor Mouth: The verses of "Walk This Way".
  • Murder Ballad: "Janie's Got A Gun"
  • Naked in Mink: From "Crazy":
    "But I know you ain't wearin' nothing underneath that overcoat\And it's all for show"
  • New Sound Album: Permanent Vacation saw the band employing outside songwriters for the first time and switching to the slicker, poppier, MTV-ready sound that would distinguish their later-period work.
  • Pink Is Erotic: Pink is filled with blatant sexual imagery.
    "I want to be your lover
    I want to wrap you in rubber
    As pink as the sheets that we lay on
    Cause pink is my favorite crayon, yeah"
  • Power Ballad: Quite a few, including "Dream On", "Crazy" and "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing".
    • Even before these were their second standard for hits, they had songs like "You See Me Crying" and "Home Tonight".
  • Precision F-Strike: A few songs. "Monkey On My Back" and "Attitude Adjustment" come to mind. "Just Push Play" is a weird case, since they self-censor most instances of it, but they leave a single F bomb uncovered near the end of the song.
  • Pun-Based Title: Done with Mirrors is a combination of this and Double Entendre, signifying that the band were "done" (finished) with drugs (including cocaine, which is typically snorted off of mirrors), while the album cover uses a literal meaning by having the text inverted.
  • Rape and Revenge: "Janie's Got A Gun". And it's Parental Abuse to boot ("Tell me now it's untrue\What did her daddy do?") and "Man, he had it coming".
  • Rated M for Manly: While they have their share of ballads and gentle songs, Steven Tyler is basically an American Mick Jagger, the instruments scream out, the lyrics frequently are sexual or just badass... can't get any manlier!
  • Rearrange the Song: "Let The Music Do The Talking" was originally released in 1980 by The Joe Perry Project, the band Perry formed after leaving Aerosmith. When Joe Perry returned to Aerosmith for 1985's Done With Mirrors, the band did their own version: The arrangement was extremely similar to the Joe Perry Project version and the chorus was exactly the same, but Steven Tyler rewrote the verses, altering the vocal melody and using entirely different lyrics.
    • A "Rock Mix" of "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing" was released as a B-Side of the regular version - the main difference is that the string section is de-emphasized in favor of some added lead guitar parts.
  • Rock-Star Song: "Make It" and "Mama Kin" off their Self-Titled Album, "No More No More" off Toys In The Attic, "Lick and a Promise" off Rocks, "Legendary Child" off Music from Another Dimension (this one being specifically about themselves). "Sweet Emotion" has shades of this too.
  • Scatting: Steven does this sometimes.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Frequent, albeit Joe Perry also does backing vocals.
  • Self-Deprecation: In "Falling in Love (is Hard on the Knees)", Steven Tyler pokes fun at himself with the line "don't give me no lip, I got enough of my own", referencing his infamously massive mouth and big lips.
    • In a similar vein, the caricatures of the band on the cover of Draw the Line could also count.
  • Self-Titled Album: Their debut.
  • Shout-Out: The lines "She was buns up and kneeling / I was wheeling and dealing" in "Girl (Keeps Coming Apart)" were taken from Frank Zappa's "Dinah-Moe-Hum".
  • Singer Namedrop: Inverted in "F.I.N.E.*", which features the lyric "And Joe Perry says I'm ALRIGHT!". Similarly, in concert Steven Tyler has frequently changed the line "I'd stand on the rock Moses done stood" from "Hangman Jury" to "I'd stand on the rock Joe Perry done stood".
  • Sound-Effect Bleep:
    • In "Legendary Child", the backing vocals create this effect at one point:
    Makin' love at seventeen yeah we had the luck
    but we traded them toys for other joys yeah we didn't give a (woah woah woah).
    • In "Just Push Play," they count on radio stations invoking this. They sing it uncensored in concert, however.
      ''Just push play, —ckin' A!
      ''Just push play, they gonna bleep it anyway!
    • "Don't Get Mad, Get Even" gets cut off during the chorus at one point, with a series of six bleeps before the music continues normally.
  • Spiritual Successor: "Rats in the Cellar" (a song from the Rocks album) was conceived as something of a mirrored version of the previous album's eponymous track, "Toys in the Attic".
  • Spoonerism: Night in the Ruts (for "right in the nuts")
  • Stop and Go: They do this between the last verse and last chorus in "Livin' on the Edge".
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Joe Perry sings lead on "Bright Light Fright", "Walk on Down", "Falling Off" and two on Honkin' on Bobo. Music From Another Dimension! has three songs sung by Joe and one by Tom Hamilton.
  • Take That!: Given Tipper Gore's PMRC criticized the band's innapropriate songs, "F.I.N.E.*" (which in a bit of irony, is in an album which Geffen decided not to print the lyrics to avert tension with Moral Guardians) goes "And even Tipper thinks I'm... alright!"
  • Textless Album Cover: Draw the Line.
  • Title Track: Half their albums have one (exceptions are the first two, Rocks, Night in the Ruts, Done with Mirrors, Pump, Honkin' on Bobo and Music from Another Dimension).
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Dude Looks Like a Lady" and "Toys in the Attic".
  • Uncommon Time: The bass riff at the beginning of "The Movie" is in 11/8 and completely off-tempo to the 4/4 that takes over the remainder of the song when the whole band comes in.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: "Dude Looks Like A Lady": "say, love would be nice / she's a love in disguise / she had the body of a Venus / Lord, imagine my surprise!"
  • Unusual Euphemism: From "Love In An Elevator": "I'll show you how to fax in the mailroom, honey / And have you home by five!" In fact, they ADORE this trope in their faster songs...
  • Wrong Name Outburst: Mentioned in the song "Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees)": "I was believer when you told me that you loved me / And then you called me someone else's name."

Musician Tropes

Music Video Tropes

Misc Tropes

"So, from all of us at Aerosmith, to all of you out there wherever you are, remember: the light at the end of the tunnel may be you. Good night."