After just two seasons as a judge on the shop-worn but still popular American Idol singing competition, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler announced in '12 that he was leaving the show. "After some long... hard... thoughts… I've decided it's time for me to let go of my mistress 'American Idol' before she boils my rabbit," said Tyler, who added that he was going to focus his attention on the band
Throughout his career, Tyler had appeared in TV shows (notably, Two And A Half Men with the equally dysfunctional Charlie Sheen), commercials, including one for The Gap with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, and voice work for animated films (The Polar Express) and TV shows (The Simpsons), but Aerosmith was, and will always be, his claim to fame.
His participation in American Idol, as the replacement for the acerbic Simon Cowell, had been a sore point with the band from the very beginning. With Tyler committed to the TV show, the rest of the group was left in the lurch. For Tyler it was either time to become a permanent TV celebrity or get down to business. Give the singer credit for knowing which side of his bread is buttered.
Tyler, known as the "Demon of Screamin'," for his vocals on the classic albums "Toys In The Attic" ('75) and "Rocks" ('76) and the singles "Dream On," "Walk This Way," "Last Child" and "Back In The Saddle." The trademark scarves hanging from the microphone stand and the energetic on-stage acrobatics (and falls), always drew attention. But Tyler's story, and by extension Aerosmith's, is one of living the Rock n' Roll lifestyle, getting crush by it, then making an unbelievable - almost Hollywood style - comeback. Fade to black - everyone lives happily ever after, except Aerosmith actually outlived their comeback.
In true Behind The Music fashion (they were profiled on the show), Aerosmith hit the skids in the '80s. Tyler and Perry were referred to as the Toxic Twins for near legendary drug intake. A backstage fight led to Perry's departure. Like the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Tyler and Perry had an often contentious, yet symbiotic, relationship. His exit, to start the Joe Perry Project, severely stunted Aerosmith. Two years later, in '81, Brad Whitford, the group's other guitarist left.
Perry and Whitford rejoined in '84 but it wasn't until '86 that the band staged an intervention insisting Tyler enter a drug rehabilitation program. After Tyler had successfully completed rehab, every other member of Aerosmith eventually followed suit.
Ironically, it took a Rap cover of "Walk This Way" to bring Aerosmith back. Tyler and Perry appeared on Run-D.M.C.'s '86 version which peaked at #4 on the charts and the accompanying video saw heavy rotation. Aerosmith released "Permanent Vacation" the following year. The set featured three Top 20 hits ("Dude (Looks Like a Lady)," "Angel" and "Rag Doll"). '89 saw "Pump, another multi-platinum effort, with three Top 10 hits ("Love In An Elevator", "Janie's Got A Gun", and "What It Takes").
"Get A Grip," released in '93, was Aerosmith's most successful album worldwide, selling over 15 million copies. Four years later, "Nine Lives" went double platinum.
On the tour in support of "Nine Lives," Tyler suffered a ligament injury when his mic stand came crashing into his knee. Tyler finished the show, but Aerosmith had to cancel several dates.
'01 was a good year for Aerosmith. They played Super Bowl XXXV Halftime Show, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their thirteenth album, "Just Push Play" featured the Top 10 hit "Jaded."
In '03, Tyler received an honorary degree from Berklee College of Music and in '05, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
But then Tyler started to look like an aging football player who just couldn't beat his injuries. In an '06 interview with Access Hollywood, Tyler revealed that he had been suffering from Hepatitis C for the past 11 years. He was diagnosed with the disease in '03 and had undergone extensive treatment. Tyler most likely became infected due to his intravenous drug use.
'06 had another health scare. Tyler had surgery to correct a ruptured blood vessel in his throat. Though the operation forced the cancellation of Aerosmith shows, the surgery was on an episode of the National Geographic Channel series, Incredible Human Machine.
Perhaps in an effort to pay his extensive medical bills (ha, ha), Tyler auditioned to front a Led Zeppelin reunion after founding vocalist Robert Plant declined to participate. Apparently, he failed to mention the audition to his Aerosmith bandmates (which goes a long way toward explaining their issues with him). As it turned out, Tyler was not prepared for his try-out and that was the end of that. A Whole Lotta Love became Dream On.
Then it was back to being under a doctor's care when he checked into Las Encinas Hospital rehabilitation clinic in Pasadena to recover from multiple leg surgeries.
And the damage report continued. At an August, '09 concert, Tyler suffered serious injuries when he fell off a catwalk at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. He was airlifted to a hospital for treatment and had a broken shoulder, gashes in his back and his head needed stitches. With Tyler on the mend, Aerosmith pulled the plug on the remaining tour dates.
Following weeks of speculation, Perry confirmed that the band was looking for a singer to replace Tyler. "Aerosmith is definitely not breaking up," wrote Perry on his Twitter page. "Aerosmith is positively looking for a new singer to work with. You just can't take 40 years of experience and throw it in the bin!"
The very next day, Tyler made a surprise onstage appearance with the Joe Perry Project in New York. "I just want New York to know, I am not leaving Aerosmith," Tyler told the audience. But Perry still claimed landing another singer was a consideration. "He [Tyler] wants to take two years off from the band (to pursue his own projects)," he said. "The rest of the band wants to keep on working. We have so many different options to fill up that time. Anything is possible at this point."
It turned out Tyler's solo desires were not the main sticking point and that there was a lot more to his fall in South Dakota than initially reported. The incident prompted the band to demand that Tyler deal with his addiction issues.
Finally, it was during a February, '10 band meeting that it was decided Tyler would remain Aerosmith's frontman for the Cocked, Locked and Ready To Rock European tour. "I just auditioned and I got the gig," said Tyler in a video announcing the trek.
So with that crisis over, or at least under control, it was on to the next one.
Though rumored for months and publically discussed for weeks, the official announcement finally arrived that Tyler was an American Idol season 10 judge He joined fellow newcomer Jennifer Lopez and the last standing original judge, Randy Jackson.
So how would this TV commitment impact Aerosmith (considering Tyler's past traumas)? "We might actually get more work done because we haven't always been so disciplined when it comes to schedules," said Whitford. "When Steven's filming, it'll only be two days a week, so it's our intention to do some new recording on his days off."
Perry wasn't quite so supportive. "It's his business, but I don't want Aerosmith's name involved with [American Idol]. We have nothing to do with it," Perry added. "[Idol] is a reality show designed to get people to watch that station and sell advertising . . . it's one step above Ninja Turtles."
Meanwhile, Tyler was taking advantage of his national exposure. He released a solo single, "(It) Feels So Good" with the accompanying video making its premiere on American Idol.
Have milked American Idol for all it was worth, Tyler 'walked this way' back to Aerosmith. "I strayed from my first love, AEROSMITH, and I'm back - but instead of begging on my hands and knees, I got two fists in the air and I'm kicking the door open with my band," stated Tyler. Aerosmith issued "Music From Another Dimension" a few months later. The album and supporting tour didn't do that well. But like a high performance athlete Tyler forgets the losses and moves on.
Tyler and Perry won a '15 Sports Emmy Award for their video remake of "Dream On" with the Southern California Children's Chorus to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. The ceremony took place in Frederick P. Rose Hall at New York's Lincoln Center.
A week later, Tyler returned to American Idol for the Season 14 finale to debut his Country solo single, "Love Is Your Name."
Steven Tyler Solo:
1998 I Love Trash
2010 Love Lives
2011 (It) Feels So Good
1974 Get Your Wings
1975 Toys In The Attic
1977 Draw The Line
1979 Night In The Ruts
1982 Rock In A Hard Place
1985 Done With Mirrors
1987 Permanent Vacation
1993 Get A Grip
1997 Nine Lives
2001 Just Push Play
2004 Honkin' On Bobo
2012 Music From Another Dimension