A Question of Snort: Walk This Way by Aerosmith with Stephen Davis (Virgin) *****

Underage girls, serial drug abuse. How far is too far? The Toxic Twins show the way.

“THE WONDER YEARS” is how the five members of caricature cock-rock combo Aerosmith refer to the band’s most Dionysian decade to date. This singularly ignominious era (’76-’86) has been designated thus purely because — as the band’s legendary, loose-limbed and labial lead vocalist Steven Tyler so eloquently puts it — “We wonder what happened to them.”

No single outfit in the history of serial over-indulgence so utterly epitomises the perpetual pursuit of the “high” life. From the Boston-based quintet’s earliest incarnation, their seemingly unquenchable appetite for sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll has passed into legend.

Who better to play midwife to the band’s long-awaited, warts-‘n’-all autobiography than Stephen Davis, author of Hammer Of The Gods, the infamously eye-popping saga of the mighty Led Zeppelin. Neither Davis nor his subjects have endeavoured to candy-coat this tale of opiate-drenched opulence, alley-cat morality and chemically challenged bombast, and consequently, Walk This Way is an essential examination of just how far too far can go.

Marvel at the startling, amoral indulgences of silk-scarved stick insect Tyler and his coxcombed compadre in cocksmanship, guitarist Joe Perry (aka The Toxic Twins). Wince as Tyler convinces the parents of a fourteen-year-old “sexy young malchick” with “more leg than a bucket of chicken” to sign over their daughter’s guardianship papers to the predatory singer.

Gag in astonishment as millions of crisp, green dollars, ostentatious private jets and entire Porsches disappear up the insatiable nostrils of the hardest working hoovers in rock history. Hurl inconsolably as gig after gig dissolves into unbridled, cacophonous chaos in the face of alcoholic oblivion and near-fatal narcotic seizures. Gasp in wide-eyed wonder as this five-man pharmaceutical circus bounces back from the brink of disaster to find true happiness in the arms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

However you view the recorded works of these glam-tramp gypsies, Walk This Way is an astonishing insight into the eye of the rock’n’roll hurricane, which calls upon the fearless testimony of those in the know. If only a small percentage of the anecdotes recounted herein are based on fact, then it’s nothing short of a miracle that Tyler, Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer have survived their 25-year tenure in the ranks of Aerosmith relatively unscathed.

THE FALL AND RISE OF TOXIC TYLER

1955 — Pre-teen trapper

“I caught little animals, clubbed them on the head, took ’em home, skinned ’em and sold the fur to make a little monkey… I stuck a firecracker up a frog’s ass and watched him explode.”

1965 — Fledgling philanderer

“So I go into the bathroom to change… I thought David Conrad [Tyler’s friend] was in the next stall. So I climb over the wall. I looked down and saw Mary Weiss! Lead singer of the Shangri-Las! And I can see her patch!! Boner material, major wood!”

1980 — World traveller

“I’d been buying opium, an ounce at a time, black pitch opium you roll in a ball and swallow… Ten minutes later, you’re in Tibet.”

1985 — Reluctant penitent

“I couldn’t believe being straight. I hated it. I’d spin around like an autistic kid, just to get dizzy.”

1991 — Incurable romantic

“It wasn’t just sex addiction. They put me in this class with very damaged guys who wore their mother’s underwear and masturbated near playgrounds. I wasn’t in the right place.”

Excerpts taken from Walk This Way

© Ian FortnamVox, March 1998

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