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Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith

The Story of Aerosmith.

We'll hear from Steven Tyler and Joe Perry who are two of the original members of Aerosmith. They have collaborated with other band members on a new book Walk This Way (Avon) which traces the bands rise from the music scene in New England to become one of the most successful rock bands in America. Aerosmith had such hits as Dream On, Walk This Way, and Sweet Emotion.

43:44

Other segments from the episode on September 10, 1997

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, September 10, 1997: Interview with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry; Review of the album "I Am Time" and Buena Vista Social Club's album "Buena Vista Social Club."

Transcript

Show: FRESH AIR
Date: SEPTEMBER 10, 1997
Time: 12:00
Tran: 091001np.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: Walk This Way
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:06

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

The story behind the band Aerosmith parallels much of the larger story of hard rock -- its achievements and its most obnoxious excesses. The members of the band tell their story in the new book "Walk This Way."

My guests are Aerosmith's lead singer and lyricist Steven Tyler, and guitarist and songwriter Joe Perry.

Aerosmith's first hit, "Dream On," was released in 1973. The '70s brought more hit records and stadium tours. Tyler and Perry also became famous for their drug and alcohol abuse, earning the nickname "the toxic twins."

It led to the temporary undoing of the band, but Aerosmith made an incredible comeback with the help of rehab and the rap group "Run DMC," which remade Aerosmith's Walk This Way into a hip-hop hit.

In the early '90s, Aerosmith went on to their greatest success yet with hits like "Love in an Elevator" and "Crazy."

Let's listen to something from their new album, "Nine Lives." This is "Hole in My Soul."

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, SONG "HOLE IN MY SOUL" FROM ALBUM "HOLE IN MY SOUL")

TYLER SINGING: I'm down a one-way street
With a one-night stand
With a one-track mind
Out in no man's land
The punishment sometimes
Don't seem to fit the crime

Yeah, there's a hole in my soul
But one thing I learned
For every love letter written
There's another one burned
So you tell me
How it's gonna be this time

Is it over?
Is it over?
'Cause I'm blowing out the flame

Take a walk outside your mind
Tell me how it feels to be
The one who turns
The knife inside of me

Take a look and you will find
There's nothing there, girl
Yeah, I swear, I'm telling you girl, yeah

'Cause there's a hole in my soul
That's been killing me...

GROSS: Steven Tyler, Joe Perry -- welcome to FRESH AIR.

STEVEN TYLER, MUSICIAN: Thanks.

GROSS: I'd like you to compare yourselves musically and on stage now with who you were in the '70s when you first became popular.

TYLER: That's a good question. That's a good request.

LAUGHTER

GROSS: Can you come up with an answer?

TYLER: No.

GROSS: OK.

LAUGHTER

JOE PERRY, MUSICIAN: It's a little early in the day for that one.

TYLER: I would have to say that I think we're pretty much both the same person. You start out by having a bunch of songs that you've fine-honed in clubs over and over again, and get a chance to put it on a record, and then you have to start from scratch and come up with songs to put on your second record.

And we've done that for 12 consecutive records, and it's always a joy to be able to write something, record it, and then the real kicker is to play it live in front of an audience.

And I still get great pleasure out of doing that. Other than a few unconscious moments in the early days when I kind of thought -- felt like I was on auto-pilot, today maybe just a little bit more conscious of the joys of doing the process that I just spoke about.

So it's a really -- it's a process steeped in wonderfulness that you're even up there doing it sometimes, and that's been the pleasure for myself, anyway.

GROSS: What was happening around you musically that you really liked and that influenced you when you started to form the sound of Aerosmith in the early '70s?

PERRY: Well, that whole era for us was influenced by the English bands, I think -- far more than what was going on in America. You know, those -- all -- obviously there was the Beatles and the Stones, and then the Fleetwood Macs and all those bands -- the Who -- that we used to see; Zeppelin. You know, that was all -- all part of it.

GROSS: Well Steven, did you feel more of an affinity early-on with the Rolling Stones in part because of your physical resemblance to Mick Jagger?

TYLER: I think that was part of it. But as Joe was saying, it's interesting how early-on you heard all these song songs on the radio. But as soon as I get to leave my house and went to the Academy of Music in New York City and saw the Stones and felt the energy and -- of people running up to the stage, and it just put a -- it put a different hat on the animal rock and roll.

And it was something that I always thought I could do better. I would love to be a part of -- that insanity; that rush. That was pretty much it for me. But yeah, there was -- there was major league -- Mick Jagger was the baddest boy on the block and I loved him so much, and from the sweatshirts and the type of pants; and Brian Jones and the tear -- blond hair and tear -- teardrop guitar and the high-heeled boots. It was all something of incredible fascination that I just wanted to get closer to.

GROSS: Let me play one of your first hits from your first CD. This is Dream On that we're gonna hear. This is a real big, you know, power ballad -- power chords with a kind of ballad kind of song.

And Steven, you have -- you have a kind of, you know, high voice. And I'm wondering: when did you know what your voice was gonna be? Where it was? You talk a little bit in the book about singing in a kind of gruffer voice early-on, before recognizing your own voice, your real voice.

TYLER: You know, for myself, I heard my voice back, and it was too sweet...

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

TYLER: ... and angelic for what I thought rock and roll should be. So I started singing like this -- and the whole first album is "get yourself cooler, lay yourself low." And even Dream On I sang in that voice. I liked that better.

But you know, I didn't know the limits of my voice and I'm still doing things in studio that tell me what my voice can do, just by pushing it and trying it. In the early days, I remember wanting to keep away from my Everly Brothers-type harmonies and roots and Beach Boy things, and wanted to keep it more skimpy. But it wasn't until, you know, I threw that "Dream On" -- that falsetto-type thing...

LAUGHTER

... that just -- that knocked me out, and I listened to it...

GROSS: Right.

TYLER: ... back. At first, I was embarrassed by it, and then my -- the reaction to people in the room, it was great. And I gotta tell you that as far as a power ballad goes, we didn't know what those were, or was it coined or phrased that...

GROSS: No, 'cause this is one of the first.

TYLER: ... back then.

GROSS: Yeah.

TYLER: It was just -- it was something that, of course then the press took the piss out of us and had to say that it was something that was Zeppelin-esque, "Stairway to Heaven"-ish. And I still have an anger towards the press to this day that they would have to, you know, "AB" us to all those different groups and the Stones, instead of listening to our music, which was way different.

I might have looked like Mick a little bit, and Joe looked like Keith a little bit, but he plays guitar; that's what it is. I'm a lead singer; that's what it is. I would have rather they looked at it as a new kind of music that was coming out of Boston.

GROSS: Well let's hear Dream On from Aerosmith's first album; and my guests are Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, and there's a new book called "Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith."

Here's Dream On.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, SONG "DREAM ON" FROM "AEROSMITH")

TYLER SINGING: Well sing with me
Sing for me here
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear
Sing it with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the Good Lord will take you away

Dream on, dream on, dream on
Dream yourself a dream come true
Dream on, dream on, dream on
Dream until your dream comes true

Dream on, dream on, dream on
Dream on, dream on, on...

Sing with me, sing for the year

GROSS: That's Aerosmith, and one of their first hits Dream On.

There's a new Aerosmith book called Walk This Way. My guests are Steven Tyler, lyricist and lead singer of the band; Joe Perry, guitarist and songwriter.

I know that you feel like your music was kind of given short shrift compared to the image of the band. And I'll take that as my cue to talk about the image of the band.

LAUGHTER

Steven, I figure as the lead singer, you're the visual focus of the group. More than anybody, you're the kind of center stage figure, so it's particularly important for you to have an on-stage style, and I think that's particularly true in the era of the stadium concert, which is your era.

So, tell me a little bit about creating who you wanted to be on stage.

TYLER: You know, it kind of created itself in that I couldn't just stand there when Joe and the guys were playing. It made me want to dance. I never had a particular style. I started out as being a drummer, so I had some sense of beat and time. And I used to have a tambourine before I had my scarves and my microphone stand and all that. And kind of...

GROSS: How '60s.

LAUGHTER

TYLER: Yeah, really; and a fur vest. And it just -- one thing led to another and I remember being down at Sindori (ph) Imports right around the corner from the Fillmore East in the East Village, and buying a couple of scarves and hanging them on the mike stand. And as I say, from being -- from doing it for all the years, one thing leads to another and you kind of hang your hat on it. Instead, I hung my scarves.

And that's just about it. You know, I like to -- I like to dance and I like flowy things and I like to look like a peacock and strut around. And, it kind of goes hand-in-hand with our style of music.

GROSS: Another part of your visual style has been, you know, the open shirt, the bare chest. I just find it an interesting paradox that your image and the band's image in a way is a mix of like the real macho, and also something that would be considered very female, you know, like the scarves, you know, flowing garments, tight-fitting satin pants.

TYLER: It's all very sexual, isn't it?

GROSS: Well yeah, and it's meant to be.

TYLER: Hmm.

PERRY: Very confusing.

TYLER: See, I don't have any hair on my chest from my...

GROSS: Exactly, right.

TYLER: ... from...

GROSS: From what?

TYLER: ... from my "does grass grow on a playground" trip here.

LAUGHTER

You know, it's my Russian roots. And I have a very, you know, in today's "men are from Mars and women are from Venus" talking, you know, I've got a large feminine side which I pay homage to because I love my sensory perception and I love my feeling and my passion so much so that I call that life itself -- as what most women have naturally in their capabilities of birthing and my capabilities of songwriting and writing with myself and others and creating -- I think it just goes hand in hand.

And so, it's just grown from that.

GROSS: I'll just out, point women can write songs, too. But we'll let that go.

LAUGHTER

TYLER: And don't they all.

GROSS: Right. So -- and did you wear makeup too on stage? Lipstick?

TYLER: Do I?

GROSS: Have you?

TYLER: It's interesting, you go right to lipstick.

GROSS: Oh.

TYLER: No, I'm more a rouge man.

LAUGHTER

No, not lipstick because mine are big enough already.

GROSS: That's true.

TYLER: I don't need any more accentuation there.

GROSS: Do you accentuate the cheek bones?

TYLER: No, I go to town on my eyes and I used to paint a tear on, and I like to have fun up there, you know.

PERRY: Well, you know that whole era there in the late '60s and early '70s, the androgyny thing was really big, you know, with the English bands, too.

GROSS: True.

PERRY: You know?

GROSS: Yeah.

PERRY: And you know, everybody from the Stones on down was, you know, was trespassing on that weird ground, you know.

GROSS: Well let me ask you -- your images on the music itself were so kind of sexualized. Do you think, since it was mostly men in the audience earlier on, do you think there was like a homoerotic thing going on there? Or, that men wanted to be you?

TYLER: I don't know. I always -- I never took it that far in thinkology. I just...

GROSS: In thinkology -- yeah.

TYLER: ... always thought -- yeah, I just always thought that rock and roll -- you know, when you love something, you don't question why others do too.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

PERRY: You know, it's got its roots in the whole blues thing, you know. I mean, it's like a lot of the posturing and chest-puffing and all that that the hard rockers do, its -- the roots are directly in blues. I mean, if you listen to a lot of the lyrics in blues, it's all, like, "I'm a man" and "I'm going to Chicago to find my woman" and all that stuff.

It's all -- the roots are very close. So, I think that that -- that it just kind of follows, you know. It's still about, you know, guys getting on stage and blowing a lot of hot air, you know?

LAUGHTER

GROSS: Right.

PERRY: So you know, the rooster's standing there like fluffing his feathers, you know?

TYLER: So what you're saying is the blues had a baby and they named it rock and roll.

PERRY: That's it.

GROSS: My guests are Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith. There's a new book about the band called Walk This Way. We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

If you're just joining us, my guests are Joe Perry and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and there's a new Aerosmith book called Walk This Way.

You know, in some ways, I think Aerosmith led the way in rock and roll excess -- you know, sex, drugs. And I think, you know, that the band helped create -- forgive me for saying this -- some of the most unappealing images of rock stars as satyrs, as spoiled, as selfish, as excessive, destructive, sexist.

And I'm wondering if you've reflected at all on your contribution to that image of rock and roll? And it's an image that I think a lot of bands reacted against? I think, you know, punk rock reacted against that. I think a lot of, like, roots rock and garage bands reacted against that.

PERRY: I don't know. I see a lot of those guys doing the same things now.

GROSS: Do you think so?

PERRY: You know? I mean, Sid Vicious was, you know, I think he lived it to the end, right? I mean, I don't know -- you're right. I think there's -- there was some rebellion against that, but I think that -- I mean, we were -- we came out of it, you know, and we're still swinging here, you know.

The thing is in that era, there were a lot of them. I mean, we were standing toe to toe with a lot of bands doing the same thing, you know. I mean, Zeppelin and -- you know, a lot of the stuff that we did, we were -- I mean, we learned early-on from the English bands how to do it. You know -- who was it -- Mott the Hoople (ph) -- you know, smashing things and putting everything in the hotel room through the TV. It was quite a feat.

Plus it takes up time, you know. It gets pretty boring in those hotel rooms.

GROSS: But doesn't it kind of disgust you in a way, that kind of behavior?

PERRY: Well, we don't do it anymore.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

PERRY: You know what I mean? It's like -- it's pretty juvenile, you know, but it was -- you know, back then, it was fun to do, you know. We did it and it was...

TYLER: That sense of "how bad can you be" is thrilling, you know, from...

PERRY: And get away -- and get away with it. You know, it's pretty, you know, you get in the car and go and the road manager's stuck paying for it, you know. But...

TYLER: I think it's something that people go through in their life. Most children do -- rebellious young age of six to nine. But I think when you're doing drugs, it kind of keeps it going. You know, doing a lot of cocaine, some people say, is God's way of telling you you have too much money, especially when you're a rock and roller. And the money's coming in and the women are there and you're out on the road, and people are screaming and you're going from town to town and everything becomes a big blur.

And you know, we did it to the max. I mean, you know, I -- my role models were Keith Richards. Early on, I would go see him and, you know, and I remember once I brought him a -- I gave him my Walther PPK for his birthday and a tab of methadone, and it was kind of like going to the Wailing Wall and paying homage to my God.

And I never want to blame him for what I went through with my drugs. However, I lived the same lifestyle he did, and you know I can't say "unfortunately" got caught up in it, because I wouldn't trade those years in for anything.

I know it was hard to get out of it, you know, but we did. And it's a success story. And I think that leads, it segues right into the book Walk This Way, you know -- which way we walked; how we walked. It wasn't a lot on our feet.

LAUGHTER

PERRY: Sometimes it was on our knees.

TYLER: Crawl this way. But you know, we made it through to the other side, as the song says, and we're -- and as I look at Joe and we get off the plane every day to throw parties for another 30,000 people, we look at each other and say: "God's gave us a gift to rock another day."

And it just feels good to be able to do that, you know.

GROSS: Yeah. It's interesting that, I mean, you had really bad -- you know, serious drug habits and I think did heroin among other drugs. And heroin is the kind of drug that doesn't exactly enhance the sex drive. And I know that you both had very hearty sexual appetites and fulfilled them every chance you could on the road. But I'm wondering how those two work together -- like heroin in conjunction with a really active sex life?

TYLER: Well, interestingly enough, when you do the kind of drugs that I did, and I can speak for myself -- I can only speak for myself -- I didn't do as much -- I wasn't as promiscuous as most people would think.

Their vision of me gallivanting around the country, raping and pillaging everybody's daughter. It wasn't that. It was you really stay to yourself. You live in a bathroom. You live in your hotel room with the curtains drawn. And you know, when I got sober is when I realized how much sex I had missed while I was actively using in my drug addiction.

And as far as heroin goes, it also afforded me to be able to sleep a lot, and I think that heroin also keeps a lot of water in your flesh; retains -- that's the up side. The down side is is that, you know, it will kill you in the end. Heroin makes you feel so good.

You see, the thing about coke and heroin is is that molecularly, structurally speaking, heroin is a few molecules off from your endorphins, which you can rev up by getting on a treadmill and running for 20 minutes. And cocaine is very much like your adrenalin, which if you stand in front of a train coming, you know, you can also physically secrete that in your own body.

So the reason most -- a lot of people like cocaine and heroin is because it's much akin to something we already have in our body. And the reason that a lot of people take heroin, from clergymen to whoever, is because it makes you feel good. And it's just a -- it's realizing that that is so hard, especially when you're in full-blown addiction.

Using in spite of adverse consequences is how they define an addiction. And one never really sees that when they're in the heat of it.

GROSS: Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith will be back in the second half of the show. They collaborated on a new book about the band called Walk This Way. And Aerosmith has a new CD called Nine Lives.

I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Back with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith. They have a new CD called Nine Lives and the band members tell their stories in the new book Walk This Way.

The band has sold over 70 million albums worldwide. Aerosmith is famous not just for its music, but for its on-stage and off-stage excesses and self-destructive behavior. Before going into rehab, Steven Tyler consumed so much alcohol and drugs, he even passed out on stage several times.

Steven, when you would pass out on stage because of drug use, would you be embarrassed about it afterwards? Or, what feeling would you have about it?

TYLER: I remember one time in particular, I'd been up for a couple of days and I needed to add my usual double Beefeater martini straight up before I went on stage, and it just hit me so strong by the third song that I was so dizzy that I fell down and couldn't get up -- just like the commercial says.

And I was so embarrassed I barely made it back to the drum riser, and I stretched my arms out to Tom Hamilton, who to this day thinks I was trying to take a swing at him, but saying, you know, "help me, I gotta get out -- I gotta get out of here."

Very much embarrassed, as I look back at it now. Back then, my brain said it was -- thought it was cool because if you could -- you know, if you fell down on stage, it was like -- don't forget, I came from the era of the '60s where if you didn't take every drug in the room and couldn't walk out -- or if you could, then you were cool.

Believe it or not, that mentality, you know, was rampant. And so -- but looking back today, you know, it's embarrassing -- of course it is. You know, I just lived for the excess.

GROSS: There was ...

PERRY: We used to like to see how far we could push it. I mean, I can remember sitting there and going: "let's see how far we can go." You know, and it was totally -- and that's what ended up killing us -- killing our spirits and our creativity because, like Steven said, in the end, you know, you just stop caring about anything else except getting high.

And it was a game we used to play. We were really young. We used to bounce back. It was -- I was always amazed how much I could do and then the next day be able to play. Or, you know, how much I'd be able to drink and then go on stage and play. And it was a game, you know, and what we did was we lost sight -- we lost the respect for our -- for the gift that we had and for the -- what a gift it is to be able to live our dream as, you know, the dream originally -- our first drug was music.

That was the thing that got us off and got us inspired, and got us in the room to make music. And then when you, you know, you start off partying like that, then you kind of lose sight of it all. And every night, no matter what you do, the audience is going nuts. You know, we just totally disrespected everything that was, you know, that came our way. And so we lost it all, you know, and that was the -- that was it.

GROSS: Steven, the members of the band and your former manager did a drug intervention for you to try to get you off of drugs. And in the book you say that you still resent the way that was done. What do you resent about it?

TYLER: You know, everybody in the band is sober 10-years plus, you know, despite the...

GROSS: Now.

TYLER: ... the rumors.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

TYLER: And -- but in the beginning, I felt like I was singled out. We were all getting high together and my manager got together with Dr. Lou Cox (ph) and there was the whole intervention thing, and I felt slighted because I had -- I was sent away with such vehemence.

I mean, like, we already have your toothbrush packed and you can't go home and kiss your girl friend good-bye. And you know, I really felt singled out, and it wasn't until I came back that -- I mean, even to this day, a few of the other members didn't have to go away, but I still felt like I was singled out.

Now, on the other hand, I'm so grateful that it was pointed out to me and maybe had to be pointed out that way -- that I had a problem with drugs. But in a deeper, more closer way, in the book I explained it as how I really felt, like the identified patient and you know -- Dr. Lou Cox has said today that they didn't think that I would have gone away or anybody else. So, he wanted to start with me. I felt like the whole band should have gone away.

PERRY: Well, the whole band -- I did. I went away two weeks later, after Tony was born.

GROSS: Did you go on your own? Or was there an intervention?

PERRY: No, I had a -- I was confronted by our manager, you know. And I was really sick. And I remember right after we did that session with Rick Rubin (ph), and we came up, it was like we were going to work with Rick Rubin and do this record with him and we're gonna write a song -- go in and see him because he was going to produce the next record.

So we go in the studio and we were fried by the time we got the guitars tuned, and the next morning we woke up and there it was, you know. It was pretty crappy on the tape. I don't know where it is. I think we burned it, you know.

And so to me, that -- that came along. And then a couple of weeks later, you know, I was confronted with this, you know -- just look at where your band is. Look what's happening. You're back together again, but you know, it's not going anywhere. And so, you know, I was feeling pretty desperate. So, it was an easy choice for me to make.

It was hard going in and it was a really hard process, you know, between doing this intervention with Steven and learning this whole new thing about maybe possibly the whole band being straight after 15 years of -- or 20 years or however long it was of living like that; probably 15 or 17 years.

And it was really hard, you know, but I went away two weeks after Steven did, and I don't know. Then, nobody else went -- right?

TYLER: No, but again, you know, I have to say that, you know, I felt singled out and all that, but I'm grateful today that I got a chance to take a look at where I was heading, you know.

GROSS: My guests are Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith.

More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

Back with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith. There's a new book about the band called Walk This Way.

A record that really helped revive the career of the band was the Run DMC version of Walk This Way which sampled Walk This Way and had a rap over it. And that was in 1986. Was that before or after the intervention?

TYLER: That was after.

GROSS: It was after. So, you were straight.

PERRY: That was before.

TYLER: Nuh-nnh.

GROSS: Oh.

PERRY: Yeah it was.

TYLER: You sure?

PERRY: Positive.

GROSS: Huh.

PERRY: Don't you remember being in the studio and being, like -- I remember the video. Remember the video?

TYLER: Yeah. We were chippin' huh?

PERRY: Yeah.

TYLER: Yeah.

LAUGHTER

Yeah, they used to -- we sampled the drums and we were called by Rick Rubin and John Small and we actually did the video, but in the recording of, they took the drums and then they asked Joe to come in and play on it. And thank God he brought the bass guitar.

PERRY: No, he had one of the Beastie Boys go down to his apartment and bring a bass in.

TYLER: Yeah.

PERRY: I brought my guitar, and it, you know, it was like who's going to play bass? "Well, we don't know." So they sent out for a bass.

TYLER: So Joe played both parts and we sang. And so there wasn't as much sampling on that as there is done today, where they would have just taken, you know, most of the song and vocals off, and then just rapped to it.

GROSS: You actually -- you re-performed it for the record.

TYLER: Yes we did, and it was a great -- it was a great moment. I mean, I look back at the video and not only was it good for the band because we're pulling ourselves out of this -- this hole. I mean, we were -- we weren't -- it's interesting. I wasn't in the doldrums of my addiction at the time. I remembered doing a dilotted (ph) or something, but chipping and trying to be aware of...

PERRY: We were trying to control it at that point.

TYLER: So it wasn't a low point in our -- in our careers. But it was good for us because it brought us back to relevance on the radio, with their picking of us -- of using that song. And of course, the video itself was, you know, knocking down the walls between black and white and between rock and roll and rap. And it was just a perfect moment.

GROSS: Steven, in the Aerosmith book, you say that the Run DMC version of Walk This Way made Aerosmith look hip for a change. How do you think Aerosmith looked shortly before that?

TYLER: Oh, we were over. I mean, in the, you know, the lowest part of my addiction, as Joe said, we tried to write a song with...

PERRY: With just...

TYLER: ... I remember Alice Cooper came also. We were at our old studio in Boston. And it was just -- it was -- we were definitely, you know, on our knees at that point. The creativity -- the drugs had put the -- all creativity to sleep.

And you know, that helped in coming around, especially for myself and the rehab, when I clearly saw that, you know, I couldn't write lyrics anymore and everything was a fog; and that I really started this to be a musician and try to be creative, and if the drugs that I loved so much were actually stealing it away, was an epiphanous moment where, you know, that, along with getting a commitment from the rest of the band and to do it together, was my strength.

GROSS: Would you both talk about writing the original Walk This Way?

PERRY: Well, I was listening to the Meaders (ph) a lot in those days, and you know, we had a lot of background in playing that R&B stuff, and you know, the James Brown -- Joey used to play in a soul band. You know, so we had a couple of James Brown tunes under our belt. And like I said, I was listening to the Meaders in New Orleans and...

GROSS: That's the Neville Brothers group.

PERRY: Yeah. And I was really liking that -- you know, that funky stuff, you know. And I felt like: well, let's write something like that. So at a sound check in Hawaii, we started fooling around with that riff, and then we brought it back to New York and we put it together as a song, you know. And then -- and Steven -- it lit a fire under him and why don't you tell them about the lyrics?

TYLER: Oh boy, that was -- I recall a record plant on 50 -- 48th Street or whatever. We were staying at the Ramada Inn, and I took a cab -- it was time to do lyrics, and I had all my notes with me in the cab. Got out of the cab, went up to -- upstairs to the record plant and took my coat off and realized that I'd left all the lyrics to the album in the cab and they were gone and lost forever.

Jack Douglas said to me: "you know, we're doing vocals tonight for 'Walk This Way.'" And I did what I could. I ran upstairs to the top floor; went into the stairway -- the stairwell; went down three or four floors because it was, you know, 11 o'clock at night and all the businesses were closed where I could scream and yell and sing, and put the track on again, and tried to, you know, exhume in my head as best I could what I had written.

And I didn't have any paper. I had a pencil. And I wrote all the lyrics on the wall, probably of the fourth floor of the old record plant. And I went down and sang it that night, and the rest is history.

GROSS: So were they the lyrics that you'd written on the cab -- or did you have to make up some new ones?

TYLER: Oh, I had to make up a whole bunch more, but I mean, I had the gist of it.

GROSS: So some cab driver knows what the original lyrics are, right?

TYLER: Well, probably threw them in a garbage can.

GROSS: Why don't we hear the original version of Walk This Way and this is Aerosmith.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "WALK THIS WAY")

TYLER SINGING: Backstroke lover, always hiding 'neath the covers
Till I talk to my daddy, he say
He said you ain't seen nothin'
'Til you down on the muffin
Then you're sure to be changing your ways

I met a cheerleader was a real young bleeder
All the times, I can reminisce.
'Cause the best things in loving
Was a sister and her cousin
Only started with a little kiss, like this

Seesaw, swinging with the boys in the school
And your feet flying up in the air
Singing "hey diddle diddle," with your kitty in the middle
Of the swing like you didn't

So I took a big chance at the high school dance
With a missy who was ready to play.
Was it me she was foolin'?
'Cause she knew what she was doin'
And I know that love was here to stay
When she told me to

Walk this way, walk this way
Walk this way, walk this way
Just give me a kiss

GROSS: That's Aerosmith, and my guests are Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. There's a new Aerosmith book, a new biography -- autobiography of the band called Walk This Way.

I believe you both have children now. Joe, you have children, right?

PERRY: Oh yeah.

GROSS: Yeah.

PERRY: Yes.

GROSS: And Steven, one of your children is Liv Tyler who's, you know, become a movie star. I'm wondering if having children changed you in any way? And if you'd ever want your children to live the kinds of lives you had -- if you think that would be a good thing or a bad thing for them?

PERRY: Well, you know, I think that I would never recommend it, because the chances of coming through it OK are very slim.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

PERRY: Again, you know, what we've been through and what I've been through, I mean, I look at -- you know, as I sit here today, I mean it's all made me what I am, you know, so I don't regret any of it. But it was a very risky way to live for a long time, and I wouldn't -- no I wouldn't want it -- my kids to go through that.

But I think that it's -- it's just part of, you know, I feel like it's just been a natural part of life. You know, I love my kids. They definitely inspire me to go on this second half of my journey, you know, through life, you know. And it's great having them.

I feel kind of -- I'm always asked if my son Tony -- he's 10. He stands by the side of the stage and he sees me going nuts on stage, and I go: does it feel weird to you to have your father jump around like that? 'Cause I could never picture my father doing that at any time in his life. You know, just cutting loose like that.

And he goes: "no, it's fine. It's normal to me," you know, to him. So you know, I just wonder how he's going to look back at that. You know, I used to go to my dad's office sometimes when he would have to go to work after hours, and you know, he worked in a big office building and you know, I'd sit around and look at his desk and stuff. And I just wonder what Tony thinks of his -- of his dad's workplace.

GROSS: Right.

PERRY: You know?

GROSS: Right.

PERRY: It's this big arena with lights and all these people, and it's like his dad running around with his shirt off and stuff. It's kind of weird.

GROSS: Yeah.

PERRY: But it's just normal for him, I guess.

GROSS: Steven?

TYLER: I used to think that, you know, that the lifestyle we lived -- you know, getting high and being high and growing up in the cocktail generation with my parents and so forth -- was the way to go. But you know, Liv has proved that wrong. I mean, you know, she's been really successful just on her ideals and her dreams and making them come, you know, to come true.

And so I -- it's been -- it's interesting how my children, you know, although I wanted to be a pirate and all that stuff and loved having illegal substances in my pocket when I went over borders, and it was exciting. You know, she's proving to me that it doesn't have to be that way for her, which takes some worry away from me in that, you know, was I -- what kind of an example have I been?

I would only say that -- the only message that I have to other people is is that there's life after meth and that, you know, that we've -- we went through it and came out alive, you know, with a lot of hard work. But more than that, now that I'm sober for 11 years, that I'm of the same head space now that I was when I was a child. I was brought up really good with a lot of love, and I'm seeing things through my children's eyes and with the emotions of a child and being able to put that back into my music.

And it just feels really good to be in this place that I am in today.

GROSS: Well, I want to thank you both very much for talking with us.

TYLER: Mmm, thank you very much Terry.

PERRY: Thanks. Thanks a lot.

GROSS: Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of the band Aerosmith. The new biography of the band is called Walk This Way. Aerosmith's new CD is called Nine Lives.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Steve Tyler; Joe Perry
High: Well hear from Steven Tyler and Joe Perry who are two of the original members of Aerosmith. They have collaborated with other band members on a new book Walk This Way which traces the bands rise from the music scene in New England to become one of the most successful rock bands in America. Aerosmith had such hits as Dream On, Walk This Way, and Sweet Emotion.
Spec: Music Industry; Aerosmith; Media; Television; Family
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1997 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1997 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Walk This Way
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: SEPTEMBER 10, 1997
Time: 12:00
Tran: 091002np.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: Cuban Music
Sect: News; International
Time: 12:55

TERRY GROSS, HOST: The cultural blockade around Cuba seems to be on the verge of crumbling, and that's good news for music lovers here. It means one of the world's most influential sources of music may once again be mixing with American pop -- all this at a time when interest in Latin music here is at a peak.

Music critic Milo Miles has a review of two new Cuban music releases: the "Buena Vista Social Club" was produced by Ry Cooder and Peter Sim (ph) on guitar; and the four-CD collection "I Am Time" is a retrospective of Cuba's musical past.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "I AM TIME")

MILO MILES, FRESH AIR COMMENTATOR: With its very potent mix of Spanish, French, African and more, Cuba's tunes are more rhythmic than any others that are more melodic; and more melodic than any others that are more rhythmic. What a combination.

It's no wonder it's so easy to accept a Cuban invitation, and the selection of Cuban music in America has never been better.

A case in point is the new four-CD collection I Am Time. Like the 112-page booklet that comes with the box, the CDs are almost too packed with information.

But the division of musical forms is so sensible and well-executed that given the limitation of reasonable size, it's hard to imagine a superior overview of Cuban music: one disc gets folkloric roots; another highlights singers; a third goes for dance bands; and the final volume profiles Cuban jazz.

The sheer abundance of material and interconnections defies brief summary, so a single example of the smarts that went into assembling this box set will have to do.

MUSIC RISES

MILES: Since a graph of the basic rhythms underlying all Cuban music is essential to feel any of it, the folklore disc is crucial. Most such introductions bog down with cuts that are too long and too relentlessly percussive, turning off everybody but beat nuts.

The first volume of I Am Time makes sure that for the critical first few tracks, the singing voices are as vivid and penetrating as the poly-rhythms, and that at least some horns and strings arrive soon. This sensitivity to the listener, combined with astute choices of material, make I Am Time a recommended indulgence for anyone with an interest in world music.

Another Cuban album to look for is the Buena Vista Social Club. Back in March, 1996, top-flight guitarist Ry Cooder went down to Havana for some recording sessions. Cooder assembled the group, called it the Buena Vista Social Club and produced their debut.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB PERFORMING "CHAN CHAN" (PH))

Besides Cooder, there are two other guitarists: 89-year-old Compane Segundo (ph) and Eliades Ochoa (ph). All three swirl around each other on the tune Chan Chan.

MUSIC RISES

MILES: But the Buena Vista Social Club is much more than a picker festival. Several cuts break free on the voices of Ochoa and 70-year-old Ibrahim Ferrer (ph), and Reuben Gonzalez' (ph) piano floats into the mix with seasoned assurance.

The atmosphere becomes the star, suggesting an after-hours Caribbean cafe untouched by time. Cooder has praised this album highly, and his enthusiasm seems apt. He often seeks to make records that are a particular paradox -- new antiques.

Here, he gets the clarity and eclecticism of a modern recording, but also the camaraderie and understanding of community that only great local stars can attain. The Buena Vista Social Club is certain to become another of Cooder's popular world music summit meetings.

MUSIC RISES

GROSS: Milo Miles is a music critic living in Cambridge. He reviewed the new box set I Am Time on Blue Jackal, and the Buena Vista Social Club debut on World Circuit Nonesuch.

Dateline: Milo Miles, Cambridge; Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest:
High: Music critic Milo Miles two new releases of Cuban music. The first is a four-CD set called I Am Time. This is a retrospective of Cuban music broken down in four categories. Cuban folk music, Singers, Dance, and Jazz. The second CD is called Buena Vista Social Club by a band of the same name. This CD was produced by Ry Cooder.
Spec: Music Industry; Caribbean; Cuba; I Am Time; Buena Vista Social Club
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1997 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1997 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Cuban Music
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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