Steven Tyler’s Train Still A-Rollin’ At 65: Remembering His Nuttiest Moments
Steven Tyler turns 65 on March 26, and you know what that means: It's already been about 30 years since critics first started saying it was unseemly for a man of his age to still be baring his chest. Fortunately, we all seem to have gotten over that a decade or two ago and happily resigned ourselves to the fact that he'll still be walking that way well into the Social Security years.
"We call them the wonder years because we wonder what happened to them," Tyler once said about Aerosmith's salad days. Let's take the occasion of his 65th to remember some of the Aerosmith singer's craziest moments:
Tyler skinny-dips on the American Idol set. The TV show was filming an episode in Las Vegas in the space used by the show La Reve, which features underwater dancers. Their setup was surrounded by a sort of moat. "I'm a water guy," said Tyler, "and I just wanted a good excuse to take my clothes off in front of J.Lo. I wanted her to see what she was missing."
Tyler auditions for a Led Zeppelin reunion. In 2008, he flew to England to spend a day jamming with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham with the intent of possibly replacing Robert Plant on a Zep tour. He describes the day as "heaven...Even though it didn't work out, the kid in me was dying. I got to sing every song from 'Black Dog' up and down...But I wasn't Robert Plant, and Robert wasn't anything like me."
Tyler fires Joe Perry from Aerosmith. Backstage at a Cleveland Stadium show in 1979, already at each other's throats, Tyler and Perry got in an even more heated fight after an argument among the band's girlfriends and wives that climaxed in a tossed drink...of milk. "Aerosmith literally broke up over spilled milk," Tyler quipped in the band's 1990s-era oral history, Walk This Way, adding, "I swore that night I'd never play with Joe Perry as long as I lived." There is some question over whether Perry jumped or was pushed, but in his memoir, Tyler affirmed, "I could have just said 'I'm outta here' but I didn't; instead I said, 'You're fired!' Those were the words!...And thus ended Aerosmith Mach 1." In the early '80s, Aerosmith was down to two original members before the original lineup reformed in 1984.
Tyler falls off the stage. At an August 2009 gig, the singer attempted to keep the crowd entertained during a partial power outage in a thunderstorm by going to the front of the stage and doing "one of my Tyler moves...I zigged when I should have zagged, and I fell eight feet ten inches...There it was, the whole thing on YouTube as soon as I got to the hospital 20 minutes later." Rather than lie, Tyler decided to admit he was high at the time--but not on the hard drugs people might have assumed. He was on the insomnia drug Lunesta. "After all my running around in the '70s, '80s, and '90s," Tyler had to acknowledge the irony of being publicly brought down by a common prescription drug. "That's like smoking banana peels!"
Tyler brilliantly scotches Aerosmith's plan to replace him--by crashing a Joe Perry solo show with a big announcement. In November 2009, during a long estrangement between him and the rest of Aerosmith, Tyler heard that the band was planning to replace him as singer. At a dinner in New York, he learned Perry was doing a solo show across town. He caught a ride over and timed it so he would go backstage just before the encore, when Perry was set to do "Walk This Way" with his side project's lead singer. Tyler informed him that he wanted to come out and sing it, and Perry could hardly refuse, although the tension was thick. Onstage, according to his memoir, Tyler told the crowd, "All right, here's what's happening. I'm going to sing with Joe tonight. The rumors about me quitting the band aren't true. And Joe, you're a man that wears a coat of many colors. But I...am the rainbow." As soon as the song was over, he rushed out to his car without speaking another word to Perry.