Steven Tyler’s memoir is a wild ride

2011-04-29 07:34

New York – Steven Tyler’s memoir has a million of ’em.

Like that night in 1978 when he blacked out on stage while singing Reefer-Headed Woman. Or when he and Aerosmith visited the White House on the day President Bill Clinton was impeached. Or that weird weekend with Keith Richards at Bing Crosby’s old house on Long Island. Everyone, Tyler writes, “was gacked to the nines on coke”.

The Associated Press purchased a copy on Thursday of Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?, scheduled for release next week.

Explicit and filled with expletives, it reads like an even wilder and louder version of Richards’ best-selling Life. Tyler (63) settles back and tells story after story about life in the “most decadent, lecherous, sexiest, nastiest band in the land”.

Or as Tyler states it: “To snort or not to snort. That wasn’t even a question.”

The road was so crazy that Tyler can’t remember how many times he was arrested. He recalls visiting Paul and Linda McCartney backstage with Bebe Buell, the mother of Tyler’s daughter, Liv.

Buell and Linda McCartney did not hit it off. Buell called her “sluggo”. McCartney answers “sluggett”. They wrestle to the floor. But the men are fine. “I like your music, man,” Paul says.

A native of Yonkers, New York, Tyler was born Steve Victor Tallarico in 1948. He remembers hearing Elvis Presley as a little kid, and feeling like he was “bitten by a radioactive spider”.

By age 15, he knew he wanted to be a rock star and he knew he liked to get high, mastering the art of rigging his bedroom door so he wouldn’t get caught smoking pot.

At age 16, lightning hits – someone tells him he looks just like that rubber-lipped singer from the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger.

By the late 1960s, he has met the other members of Aerosmith and hung out with them at Woodstock. They get their first record deal in 1972. Their self-titled debut album comes out the following year.

The band’s name was suggested by drummer Joey Kramer. They had considered Stit Jane, or the Hookers (Tyler’s idea). Kramer mentioned Arrowsmith. Like the novel by Sinclair Lewis? No, Aerosmith, a-e-r-o. Perfect, “The name evoked space – aerodynamics, supersonic thrust, Mach II, the sound barrier.”

Tyler describes working on such classics as Dream On, written at a Hilton Hotel near the airport in Boston, and Sweet Emotion, inspired by the “anger and jealousy” over guitarist Joe Perry’s moving out to live with his girlfriend.

Walk This Way was partially inspired by Mel Brooks’ horror spoof Young Frankenstein and the famous line uttered by Marty Feldman. The band cracked up and a song was born.

Tyler is open about his battles with Perry, a bond “fraught to say the least”. They are “soul mates” who might not speak for months, brothers caught up in “moments of ecstasy and periods of pure rage”.

But that’s OK with Tyler, who reasons that all rock stars are egomaniacs and that you wouldn’t want to be stuck with “clones of yourself”.

He writes briefly about joining American Idol. He was touring in France in June last year when he got a text from Idol judge Kara DioGuardi wondering if he wanted to give the show a try.

“Like a dummy,” Tyler recalls, he asked only how high were the ratings. Very high. His inner voice tells him, “Yeah, I’ll do it.”

Tyler signed on before telling the band. He remembers Perry barging into his dressing room, furious that he learned about it from the press. But that’s all “water under the bridge”, Tyler says. The tour was “beyond successful” and if he bombs on Idol he still has a day job. “And, boy, what a day job I got!”

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