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Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith by Aerosmith & Stephen Davis (1997)


“We believed anything worth doing was worth overdoing.”

Those words are spoken from the famous mouth of the ever talkative, ever charismatic Steven Tyler, frontman of the East Coast rock band, Aerosmith. Indeed, that seems to be the underlying current of thought running through the pages of the recently released autobiography, Walk This Way. Overindulgence is an understatement for these Boston Bad Boys. Why then, should their ever faithful “Blue Army” of fans be any different? Aerosmith is a potent drug themselves.

They keep you wheedling for more, whether it be a dying thirst for their exciting, blues-influenced brand of rock, to the ache of withdrawal you feel when they’re not breezing into your nearest town with one of their awesome live shows. Once you get hooked, you can’t even pick up their massive autobiography and be able to put it down, even when going back for seconds.

Walk This Way is a surprising expose from five guys who knew the story best — Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, and Joey Kramer — the guys who lived through it. To fill in the gaps of consciousness are wives, ex-wives, managers, roadies, friends, and peers from the entertainment field.

The journey of Walk This Way takes you back to Tallahassee, sort to speak. It starts where it should: from the beginning, from the childhood years of all five guys in the band, their family background, and their influences that helped pave the way for their musical direction. It portrays their struggles, their frustrations, their hopes and ambitions, and even their starry-eyed dreams. Even Steven Tyler, as a young lad, had his idols as he sat for hours in front of hotels to meet the members of The Rolling Stones — much like his fans do today. The journey called Aerosmith is one full of clouds, full of bumps, full of fights, full of brotherhood, full of triumph, and full of ideals and goals.

The book takes you through the pages of history when Aerosmith got their first record deal with their self titled album, and through their second, Get Your Wings, as a band trying to make their mark in the rock and roll universe. It takes you through their countless determination in building a following by playing club after club, and being persistent. It takes you through their first big taste of success when their next two albums, Toys In The Attic and Rocks hit the public smack in the head. Suddenly they were somebody and success, money and fame walked right into their door.

Along with that fame and success came a slow destruction that was caused by the excesses of life: drugs, drinking, women, and endless touring and being on the road. The devil of drugs started to play puppet master with the band, causing what appeared to be a slow and imminent death of a band that had the chance to be destined for greatness. This cancer took hold when Draw The Line was made, and escalated during the making of Night In The Ruts. A wedge was finally driven between the two soul brothers of the band, Steven Tyler, and guitarist Joe Perry. Joe left in the middle of recording NITR. The fighting, the drugs, and the band members significant others, pried the band apart, leaving their fans wondering if rock and roll would ever be the same.

Joe Perry branched out on his own, forming the Joe Perry Project, and releasing two cult hit records, Let The Music Do The Talking and I’ve Got The Rock `N’ Rolls Again. Aerosmith plunged on and started recording Rock In A Hard Place when Brad Whitford decided to leave the fold. The band continued to crash and burn, losing money, cars, their homes, and their relationships.

Aerosmith hit bottom and seemed to be continuing on their path of destruction when the members of the band seemed to get brought together again. Joe Perry and Brad Whitford returned, along with a new manager, Tim Collins. Trying to clean up their act, they recorded their next album, Done With Mirrors, which didn’t make as much noise as it should have.

It wasn’t until the release of Permanent Vacation and a commitment to a sober lifestyle by all parties involved that caused Aerosmith to rise from the ashes. They were back with a vengeance with the biggest album of their career, and continued thereafter to hit the concert trails and reach even higher numbers on the charts with the release of their next two albums, Pump and Get A Grip. There was a new Aerosmith on the rise, and they were going to steamroll anyone who got in their way. The born-again Boston Bad Boys were newly sober and loving life, and the world embraced them. The last chapter winds up at the present, with their current tour and release of Nine Lives, as they continue their successful jaunt.

This book is more than a book about the drugs and the women. It is more than a book about the fame, the money, and losing it all. It digs deeper than the tantrums, the in-fighting, the “business” part of the entertainment field, and the distrust. This book covers all of that, but it has a deeper message. The pain, the struggle, the love for music that brought these five very different personalities together like brothers, and the inspirations that drove them first to the top of the world, and then to the bottom of hell, then back up to an even higher plateau . . . all of that is here in black and white. It’s a frank, honest, sometimes amusing, and sometimes painful story about how each member thinks and what makes each of them tick. It is written in such a way that their personalities burn through each page. It lets you peek in on their hopes and dreams. Most of all, it is a book about survival.

Aerosmith survived when others didn’t. While they indeed fell as many of their peers had, it wasn’t a final fall for them, and they got back up. Today, they are still standing, while others didn’t get a second chance once they fell. That, I believe, is the crux of what makes Aerosmith tick. Not many lived through what they have and still be around to tell their story. With a nod of thanks in having nine lives, these five men are still on their journey, meeting their destinations a little at a time, but never stopping too long to miss the train. May they continue down that road of magic called music for a long time to come, continuing to win the smiles of millions along the way who have felt some happiness because of them.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Book Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith by Aerosmith & Stephen Davis | , | Leave a comment