Steven Tyler, best known as the frontman for the band Aerosmith, has had two careers. The first was marked by an addiction to drugs and subsequent professional collapse. The second began when seeking treatment for his addictions led to decades of sobriety and artistic success.
Today he may best be known as one of the judges on 'American Idol', but no Steven Tyler biography would be complete without discussing his musical roots, rise, fall, and resurrection, as well as his impact on pop culture today.
EXPOSED TO MUSIC AT AN EARLY AGEBorn as Steven Tallarico in 1948 in New York, NY, to Susan and Victor Tallarico, Tyler was exposed to music at an early age by his father, a classical pianist. He would later recall spending countless hours under his father's piano, playing games as he listened to many of the great masterpieces of classical music. By age 16 he had formed his first band, called 'The Strangeurs' for a while, and had also started to play for other local bands. His drug problem had already begun to surface, though, and he was expelled from Roosevelt High School. Eventually graduating from Leonard Quintano for Young Professionals School, Tyler continued to play music while struggling as a songwriter. Perhaps Aerosmith's most famous song, "Dream On" was actually written during this period of self-discovery.
In 1969, while attending a concert in New Hampshire, Tyler befriended Joe Perry and Tom Hamilton. At the time the two guitarists were playing for a local group called 'The Jam Band'. Continuing the friendship, the trio decided to form a band the following year and, after moving to Boston, invited Joey Kramer to play drums for what was to become 'Aerosmith'.
THE FIRST RISE AND FALL OF AEROSMITHAfter changing managers, Aerosmith spent the early 1970s opening for other bands, with their musical style and energy often inviting comparisons to the Rolling Stones. Signing with Columbia Records in 1971, they released the albums 'Aerosmith' in 1973 and 'Get Your Wings' in 1974. Though the song "Dream On" made it to #59 on the rock charts in 1973, it wasn't until after 'Toys in the Attic' and 'Rocks' were released in 1975 and '76 that the band began to develop its own following. "Sweet Emotion" broke into the Top 40 in 1975 and was followed by the Top 10 successes of the re-released "Dream On" and "Walk This Way" the following year. Aerosmith was soon a major draw and, after filling stadiums throughout the United States, the band soon launched Japanese and European tours. This first golden period was capped by their appearance in the film version of 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band', with their cover of "Come Together" being their last Top 40 hit for nearly a decade.
No Steven Tyler biography would be complete, however, without mentioning his gradual descent into un-controlled drug use. Always known for his powerful and expressive vocals, by the early 1980s Tyler had started to collapse on stage due to excessive substance abuse. His struggles were compounded by a motorcycle crash in 1980 that prevented him from recording for a while and the departures, in 1979 and 1981, of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford from the band only reinforced the perception that Aerosmith was already in decline.
THE COMEBACKThough Perry and Bradford would eventually re-join the band after attending a concert in 1984, Tyler's drug use continued to spiral out of control. Following a stretch that saw the band produce no Top 40 hits, the band finally intervened and urged Tyler to enter rehab in 1986. It would be easy for a Steven Tyler biography to end here, with him as a washed-up star, but after going clean the lanky frontman seemed to inspire his fellow bandmates to also give up their drug use. Soon Aerosmith was writing and recording again, this time for a generation that had grown up with videos being as much a part of the music experience as the songs.
Collaborating with Run-D.M.C. on a cover of "Walk This Way" that brought them immediate national recognition, Aerosmith soon created a string of songs that were boosted in sales by the appeal of the videos that accompanied them. Often starring breakout stars like Alicia Silverstone, Josh Holloway, Edward Furlong, and Tyler's own daughter Liv, pieces like "Cryin", "Livin' on the Edge", and "Crazy" dominated the airwaves and cable music video channels throughout the early 1990s, boosting Aerosmith to superstardom as they did so.
This comeback was punctuated by the prominence given to Aerosmith songs like "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" in the 1998 science fiction adventure 'Armageddon', which also starred Tyler's daughter Liv. The band's first #1 hit, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" was also the first song by a rock band to debut at that spot on the charts. Similar success followed with the 2001 album 'Just Push Play', featuring the song "Jaded" and, in the same year, the band was invited to play at Superbowl XXXV.
TRANSITION TO 'AMERICAN IDOL' JUDGEAerosmith's combination of the 'hair metal' and pop sounds was falling out of fashion, however, and by the 2000s they were no longer considered on the forefront of developments in rock. Though their songs continued to play on various rock stations throughout the decade, they were supplanted by various alternative bands as contenders for the title of the nation's most well-known group. By 2009 Tyler had stopped renewing his contract with Aerosmith and the nature of the band's existence was in question. Though he ended up touring with them the following year, Tyler also began pursuing solo opportunities, notably writing songs to accompany the Japanese film 'Space Battleship Yamamoto'.
Another page has recently been added to the Steven Tyler biography, however. At the end of 2010 Tyler was invited to join the judging lineup of the Fox TV show 'American Idol', a career move that has introduced him to a third generation of music fans.
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