Aerosmith: Sex’n’Drugs’n’Rock’n’Roll!

Up until the early ’80s, Aerosmith indulged in every rock ‘n’roll excess! “It’s a miracle they survived!” says Dr. Pete Makowski, who met Steven Tyler at the height of the bands decadence!

IT WAS ugly, it was weird. It was also a lot of fun…

This sordid, sleazy story may come over as a blur of debauchery, gluttony and chronic self-abuse, but the key moments remain clear in a mind which is a library of useless information, yet totally void of here-and-now facts.

My liason with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler occurred around the time of John Lennon’s assassination in 1980. It was the era of Andy Warhol and Jackie Onasis, the resurgence of tight leather pants, freebasing and the dawn of designer drugs – including a potentially lethal opiate called China White.

New York was in the grip of the ‘Disco sucks, Punk rools’ fiasco. At that time Aerosmith were probably considered boring dinosaurs, along with the other supergroups who where being vilified bye the likes or Rotten, Vicious, et al.

My first encounter with the ‘Smiths was in the mid-’70s, when as a pup reporter I reviewed their debut album and dissed them off as being a bad imitation of the Rolling Stones who got their image off an old Queen album.

Then I heard Toys In The Attic and got the message. Here was a band with pedigree, credibility, and a sound with Big Bollocks. As the years rolled by and I ingested more drugs, the more attractive the ‘Smiths toxic rapscallion rebel image became.

I used to think: wouldn’t it be a gas to hang out with Tyler and Perry? Y’know, shooting the proverbial shit, listening to old R&B records, letting the music do the talking and – oh yeah!- taking bucketloads of high quality Peruvian marching powder while being surrounded by a posse of European-type babes with figures that would make Kate Moss look like a binge eater. F**k safety pins, self-mutilation and cheap amphetamines – this was a high class fantasy and I was living it!

Which brings us conveniently to the ’80s. It just so happened that me and my drinking buddy Ross Halfin were holed up in the Big Apple when the ‘Smiths management phoned and invited us over to the band’s office. We had been trying to get an audience for a long time, but they had been pretty, uh, inactive for the last two years.

Joe Perry had gone his own sweet way with his project, which had crumbled. “Joe’s gone underground”, one record company executive had told me. ‘Underground’ meant the man was frazzled.

As for Tyler, sightings were rare and chaotic. He now part- owned a club called Privates, and was occasionally seen stumbling incoherent onstage, with the house band, with a bottle of Chivas grafted to his hand. For a while it looked as though Aerosmith’s glory days were over. Until we received that call from Leber and Krebs to inform us that Tyler was getting the ‘Smiths back together again, albeit minus Perry, and we could hear some new demos.

So we headed uptown and it was there I first set my eyes upon the reptilian visage of El Tyler.

Looking stylishly gaunt, with sunken pinned eyes, the man was a walking E-chord, if you get my drift.

He looked like he came out of the womb with silk Indian scarves wrapped around his umbilical cord. His first words were probably: “No head, no backstage pass.” Wasted and incoherent, the man played us a selection of tracks so loud that the speakers fell off their mountings on the wall. We had to get an interview before he turned blue on us!

As you can imagine, the management were a bit hesitant in letting us get an official audience with their prodigal stoned wastrel son. And for a while, a liaison looked pretty damn slim. It was just pure chance that I came across one of his ‘associates’, a Jewish princess NY-stylee. A typical junkie friend of the stars. A f**king godsend, man!

So after wining, dining and bullshitting the lady into submission, a secret rendezvous at the office was arranged, in the wee hours of the morning.

Tyler was a real gentleman, and in his chemically-induced stupor, he entertained us with a selection of old Aerosmith videos. The one that stood out featured Little Richard introducing them on American Bandstand. And there were anecdotes, like the time he took amyl nitrate on a big dipper with Jimi Hendrix. I mean, how cool can you get?

I know very little about the band factually, but it didn’t matter as we were all out of our gourds, and I never got to write the story anyway! We finished off the evening with Ross taking a picture of The Man holding up a cushion that had been fashioned into a large quaalude by a fan. A fitting end to a 24-carat rock’n’roll evening.

Now many moons have passed. Tyler is clean and sober. The original ‘Smiths have been back together for a while and are doing better than ever.

You could never knock their success. It’s well deserved, and it’s a bloodly miracle that they’re still walking, let alone producing good music!

© Pete MakowskiKerrang!, 6 April 1994

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