Steven Tyler - biography

Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler (born Steven Victor Tallaricco; March 26, 1948) is an American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the frontman and lead singer of the Boston-based rock band Aerosmith, in which he also plays the harmonica, and occasional piano and percussion. He is known as the "Demon of Screamin'"[1] due to his high screams and his wide vocal range. He is also known for his on-stage acrobatics. During his high-energy performances, he usually dresses in bright, colorful outfits with his trademark scarves hanging from his microphone stand. In the 1970s, Tyler rose to prominence as the frontman of Aerosmith, which released such milestone hard rock albums as Toys in the Attic and Rocks. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Tyler had a heavy drug and alcohol addiction, and the band's popularity waned.

He completed drug rehabilitation in 1986 and subsequently maintained sobriety for years, but had a relapse with prescription painkillers in the late 2000s, for which he successfully received treatment in 2009.[2] After Aerosmith launched a remarkable comeback in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the albums Permanent Vacation, Pump, and Get a Grip, Tyler became a household name and has remained a relevant rock icon. As a result, he has since embarked on several solo endeavors including guest appearances on other artists' music, film and TV roles (including as a judge on American Idol), authoring a bestselling book, and solo work (including a Top 40 hit single in 2011). However, he has continued to record music and perform with Aerosmith, after more than 41 years in the band. He is included among Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Singers.[3] He was also ranked 3rd on Hit Parader's Top 100 Metal Vocalists of All Time. In 2001 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Aerosmith, and he was the presenter when AC/DC was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.

Early life

Steven Victor Tallarico was born, March 26, 1948 in Yonkers, New York, the son of Susan (née Blancha, died July 4th, 2008), a secretary, and Victor A. Tallarico (died September 10, 2011), a classical musician and pianist.[4] His father was of Italian and German descent and his mother was of Polish and English ancestry.[4] Tyler's maternal grandfather, who was from the Russian partition of former Poland, changed his surname from "Czarnyszewicz" (from the Polish czarny 'black') to "Blancha" (from the French blanche or Catalan/Spanish blanca 'white').[4]

Tyler has stated that he grew up "under his mother's piano", and that from what his father played, he got "that emotional thing" that he has with music. When he was sixteen, he formed his first band, called The Strangeurs, later changed to Chain Reaction, where he was the drummer, and later the lead singer. Tyler had also been part of a few local bands, like William Proud and The Left Banke. He was expelled from Roosevelt High School due to his drug use.[citation needed] He graduated from the Leonard Quintano for Young Professionals School in 1967. He attended Woodstock with Joe Perry and Joey Kramer, his future Aerosmith bandmates.

Career Formation and success of Aerosmith (1970–1978)

Main article: Aerosmith

Before Aerosmith was formed, Tyler wrote what would become one of Aerosmith's signature songs, "Dream On". In 1969, Tyler attended a local rock show in Sunapee, New Hampshire where he first saw future bandmates Joe Perry (guitars) and Tom Hamilton (Bass), who at the time were playing in a band called the Jam Band. Tyler later stated he was struck by their raw power and attitude. Around 1970, Tyler, Perry and Hamilton decided to form a band. However, Tyler, who had typically performed drums in many of his previous bands, insisted that he be the frontman and lead singer, Joey Kramer, a friend of Tyler's from New York, was recruited to play drums. They also added Tyler's boyhood friend Ray Tabano as a second guitarist. The band moved to Boston and shared a small apartment on Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton. Tabano was replaced by Brad Whitford in 1971.

After spending time on the Boston club circuit under the tutelage of their first manager, Frank Connelly, the band began working with New York managers Steve Leber and David Krebs. Leber describes the band as "the closest thing I've ever seen to the Rolling Stones." In October 1971, the managers arranged the gig at the legendary nightclub Max's Kansas City to showcase the group to record company executives. They subsequently signed a record deal with Columbia Records in 1971 and released their eponymous debut album in 1973. This was followed by Get Your Wings in 1974. Around this time, Aerosmith continued to tour wherever they could, and opened for bands like Mott the Hoople. The band had a minor hit in "Dream On", which peaked at No. 59 in 1973, but it wasn't until the back-to-back releases of Toys in the Attic (1975) and Rocks (1976) that Aerosmith broke into the mainstream. In 1975, they achieved their first Top 40 hit in "Sweet Emotion". Soon after, "Dream On" was rereleased and hit No. 6 in 1976, followed by another Top 10 hit "Walk This Way". Additionally, Rocks produced the hit singles "Last Child", "Back in the Saddle", and "Home Tonight". By 1976, Aerosmith found themselves headlining huge stadiums and major rock music festivals. That year, Tyler emerged as a prominent rock star and sex symbol in his own right, gracing the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. 1977's Draw the Line continued the band's success, and they were catapulted to international fame and recognition, launching tours in Europe and Japan. A series of Hot 100 hits continued throughout the remainder of the decade, including "Draw the Line", "Kings and Queens", and "Chip Away the Stone". Aerosmith's first five albums have also all since gone multiplatinum, and all five are considered to be among the greatest hard rock albums of all time. Aerosmith toured heavily throughout the mid to late 1970s, and their live shows during this time period were captured through 1978's live album Live! Bootleg and the 1989 VHS release Live Texxas Jam '78. 1978 also saw Tyler make his acting debut as the leader of the Future Villain Band in the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, alongside his fellow Aerosmith bandmates. The film also spawned Aerosmith's cover of the Beatles hit "Come Together", which would be Aerosmith's last Top 40 single for nine years.

Decline of Aerosmith (1979–1983)

As the decade wore on, the fast-paced life of touring, recording, living together, and using drugs began to take its toll on the band. Tyler and Perry often were called the Toxic Twins for their legendary intake of stimulants and heroin. Their relationship is well documented in many of Aerosmith's video releases as well as in the Aerosmith Behind the Music. On July 28, 1979, after a huge fight at a World Series of Rock concert in Cleveland, Perry left Aerosmith to begin his own band, The Joe Perry Project. Night in the Ruts was released that fall, and Aerosmith forged on with new guitarist Jimmy Crespo.

In the fall of 1980, Tyler was injured in a serious motorcycle crash that left him hospitalized for two months and unable to tour or record for much of 1981. When the band re-convened to begin recording, Tyler formed a writing partnership with Crespo, co-writing and producing the album Rock in a Hard Place (1982). Brad Whitford had left in 1981, shortly after recording the guitar parts for the album's lead single, "Lightning Strikes". Whitford was replaced by Rick Dufay, and the band continued to tour into 1983. Tyler's drug abuse increasingly became problematic.

Reuniting and getting clean (1984–1986)

On February 14, 1984, Perry and Whitford, who left the band in 1979 and 1981 respectively, showed up at an Aerosmith show. According to the band's Behind the Music special on VH1, Tyler alleges he made the first phone call to Perry encouraging them to meet up again. Backstage, they all met, and Perry and Whitford agreed to join the band once again. With the new reunion, the band also fired their managers Leber and Krebs, hired new manager Tim Collins (who was managing Joe Perry) and signed a new record contract with Geffen Records.

Aerosmith embarked on a reunion tour, the "Back in the Saddle Tour", and proceeded to record once again, releasing Done with Mirrors in 1985. The band was still using drugs, however, especially Tyler, who collapsed at a show in Springfield, Illinois, on the 1984 tour. In 1986, the band held a meeting in which the band members staged an intervention on Tyler and convinced him to enter a drug rehabilitation program.

After Tyler had successfully completed rehab, every other member of Aerosmith eventually followed suit; all had successfully exited their respective programs at various times in the mid-late 1980s.

Comeback and superstardom (1986–1999)

Aerosmith rose to prominence again when Tyler and Perry appeared on Run–D.M.C.'s cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" in 1986, a track that combined elements of hip-hop and rock, that broke down the barriers between the two genres, broke rap into the mainstream, and introduced Aerosmith to a new generation. The track hit No.4 on the charts and launched a famous music video that saw heavy rotation. This paved the way for Aerosmith to mount a significant comeback. Tyler and Perry renewed their songwriting partnership but were now also working with outside songwriting collaborators brought in by the record company, like Desmond Child and Jim Vallance. In addition, to help give Aerosmith a slick sound that would be accessible to mainstream audiences, they were receiving help from producer Bruce Fairbairn and A&R man John Kalodner. Aerosmith released Permanent Vacation in 1987, which became a huge multi-platinum success and launched three Top 20 hits ("Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", "Angel", and "Rag Doll"). The band launched a tour with the emerging Guns N' Roses opening many shows. Permanent Vacation was followed by 1989's Pump, which was even more successful, selling 7 million copies and producing three Top 10 hits ("Love in an Elevator", "Janie's Got a Gun", and "What it Takes") and one Top 40 hit ("The Other Side"). Pump in particular saw Tyler expand his musical horizons, co-writing the innovative hit "Janie's Got a Gun", which won the band their first Grammy award. The band toured with many up-and-coming acts and performed in locations like Australia for the first time. In the late 1980s, Tyler also guested on albums by comedian Sam Kinison, Alice Cooper (a fellow 70s rocker also launching a successful comeback) and popular contemporaries Mötley Crüe. Around that time, Tyler and Perry also appeared at a Bon Jovi concert in Milton Keynes and performed "Walk This Way".

With the twin successes of Permanent Vacation and Pump, the band became an MTV sensation and Tyler became a household name. The band were featured on a "Wayne's World" sketch on Saturday Night Live in 1990, which is ranked as the No.1 moment of all time on the show.[5] That same year, Aerosmith recorded one of the first episodes of MTV Unplugged. In 1991, Aerosmith was one of the first bands to be featured on The Simpsons. That year, the band also signed a $30 million record deal with their old label Columbia, which they would begin recording for later that decade. The box set Pandora's Box was released by Columbia in late 1991, and the band filmed a music video for "Sweet Emotion" to promote the release. Earlier in the year, the band also performed "Dream On" with an orchestra at MTV's 10th Anniversary celebration; their filmed performance was used as the official video for the song. After a brief break, the band returned to the studio in 1992 to record their next album. The band's A&R man John Kalodner criticized some of the early material being considered for this album, targeting Tyler's sexually profane lyrics in particular. As Tyler was no longer using drugs, some members of the band and their management had believed Tyler had now become a sex addict.[6]

However, the band eventually began recording again and released Get a Grip in 1993, which became their most successful album worldwide, selling over 15 million copies and producing a series of hit singles ("Livin' on the Edge", "Cryin'", "Eat the Rich", "Amazing", "Crazy"). While the album saw mixed reviews and received some criticism for over-using outside collaborators, Aerosmith won more awards during this time than any other, winning two Grammy Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, two American Music Awards, a People's Choice award, and a Billboard Award. The band became well known for their videos at this time, which featured film-like storylines and up-and-coming actors and actresses like Edward Furlong, Stephen Dorff, Jason London, Josh Holloway, and most notably Alicia Silverstone. Tyler's daughter Liv made her acting debut in the band's video for "Crazy" in 1994. The band also launched their biggest and most extensive tour yet, performing over 240 shows in nearly 30 countries, including touring Latin America for the first time and performing in many European countries for the first time.

After the 18-month long Get a Grip Tour ended in December 1994, the band took a break in 1995 to spend time with their families. This break was needed due to the grueling lifestyle of the previous 10 years under the helm of manager

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