News Segment


June 15, 2007

STEVE Tyler’s LA rock star mansion is suitably busy – and noisy. The Jagger-lipped, stick-like frontman of Boston-bred legends Aerosmith breaks away from our chat three times to answer the door.

“Sorry,” he explains with a grin. “I’m the only one home – plus rumour has it a rock star lives here.”

Unfailingly polite and brimming with boundless energy, 59-year-old Tyler’s time in the rock ‘n’ roll trenches began in the mid-60s. Over the years, he gained and lost fortunes and, after kicking a ferocious drug habit, Aerosmith – formed in 1970 – made some of their greatest music in the 90s with the anthemic Living On The Edge.

Although as a young rocker he lived a wild and reckless life, Tyler was never in doubt that Aerosmith – the biggest-selling rock band ever to come out of America, with 140 million album sales and counting – were in for the long haul.

“I used to think whoever loves this song is going to love it when they are 80 too,” smiles Steve. “The thing about music is that it evokes the feelings you had the first time you heard it. It’s stronger than the strongest drug there ever was.

“You have to be myopic to believe that because a few greats died, that’s the way to do it. Mick Jagger does little tiny lines… some people know how to do it right. Of course, what I mean is that when he writes his lyrics he writes little tiny lines!”

Steve laughs, but while his daughter, movie star Liv, was growing up, he never saw much of her because drugs ruled his life. It was left to fellow US rock star Todd Rundgren to become Liv’s surrogate father.

“Now she’s doing movies all the time I still don’t see much of her,” says Steve. “I surely have regrets about not being there for Liv when she was growing up. It just happened that when I courted Bebe, Liv’s mum, I was stuck in a spot that sounds like the middle section of Whole Lotta Love. You know the one? I was in the way outosphere. I was in the sweet spot, hanging between the lines. Very long lines.”

Nowadays, he and Rundgren are pals, although Tyler admits he’s a little jealous of his old rival.

“Yeah, I’m envious that he owns all that property in Hawaii!” he laughs.

Sugababes and Girls Aloud recently covered Aerosmith’s most famous song Walk This Way – which the band reworked to celebrated effect in 1986 with Run DMC – for Comic Relief.

“I thought they made a good attempt,” nods Steve. “It was done from their heart for a good cause. And the video – a bunch of hotties shaking their asses? That was cool.”

So who is more rock ‘n’ roll – you, Mick Jagger or Iggy Pop?

“Mick has always been my man,” Steve considers. “I loved him from day one. No, let me take that back and go for Iggy because he’s not playing giant stadiums but he lives it, kicking ass in small clubs. Iggy Pop’s the essence of rock ‘n’ roll. He doesn’t have the greatest voice, but neither do I and neither does Mick. But what we’ve all got is the attitude. Iggy just does not stop.”

Staying in shape is essential for the long distance rocker and Steve is no exception.

“Jagger takes great pride in how he looks and I’m the same way,” he says. “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels. I get shagged a lot. Most people call it the gym but it depends where you do it, right? My girlfriend keeps me busy.”

Did you worry that giving up drugs would impair your creativity?

“Of course,” Steve says. “But I tried it and found I was wrong. I could remember my lyrics for one thing. People think I use teleprompters onstage today because I can’t remember my lyrics. Well the real reason is that every third girl is lifting up her shirt and flashing me. When I see stuff like that, of course I’m going to forget lyrics!”

Tyler’s wild years have not left him unscathed and he recently underwent chemotherapy treatment for hepatitis C.

“It was pretty catastrophic,” he admits. “It meant the band taking a year off, which we never did in our career. I got through one day at a time. It was really hard. Anyone who has been through chemo knows it sucks. But the good news is that it’s non-detectable in my bloodstream and I can get insurance again.”

Living life to the full, equal parts cad and charmer, Tyler’s excited by the prospect of Aerosmith’s 15th studio album – due next year – and makes clear his enduring love for long-time songwriting partner, guitarist Joe Perry.

That the band are still with us – let alone firing on all cylinders – is something of a miracle. And before going off to phone one of his daughters, Tyler stops me with an unmistakeable glint in his eye.

“Hey, are you going to make me burn in hell in this interview?” he asks. “Well here’s to hell – may we have as much fun there as we had getting there.”

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