Veteran rockers Aerosmith hit Auburn Hills on Aug. 31Written by Alan Sculley | | ASculley@toledofreepress.com
Perhaps more than at any other time in his long music career, bassist Tom Hamilton is appreciating the fact that his band, Aerosmith, is back on tour, and by all reports, playing inspired shows.
Just in terms of Hamilton’s recent past, he has gone through two bouts with throat cancer and is stoked to once again have a clean bill of health.
“As soon as I got back from Europe [where Aerosmith was touring] last week, I went for one of my checkups,” Hamilton disclosed in a recent phone interview. “[The doctor] said ‘You look great, get out of here and have fun.’ I realize every time I go that those words are probably the most beautiful words in the English language.”
Then, of course, there has been the turmoil within Aerosmith during the past year that at some points seemed to have the band on the brink of implosion. Reports indicated Steven Tyler was ready to leave the band for a solo career and the remaining band members were preparing to audition singers to replace him.
Hamilton looks back on all that has happened and is thankful that he and his band mates, Tyler, guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford and drummer Joey Kramer, had the sense to realize what they were close to losing.
“I think because of what we went through last year, it was just one of those moments where you have to go and blow it so you can get it back together and realize how great it is and how staying together is so worth everything,” Hamilton said. “I think everybody was able to put their arguments aside and their feelings about the past aside and go out and play. I really, in my mind, I reduced it down to that. I was willing to put my lingering feelings about things that have gone on to the side just to have a situation where I can completely enjoy being part of this band. I think everybody was feeling that. It just really shows.”
Ironically, at the beginning of 2009, things were looking up for Aerosmith and Hamilton. The bassist had been diagnosed with throat cancer in 2007, but was cancer-free by the start of 2009 when the band did a recording session with producer Brendan O’Brien that was cut short to do a summer tour with ZZ Top.
Then things started to go wrong for Aerosmith.
First Whitford had to drop outof the first part of the tour after suffering a head injury.
Then about three weeks into the tour, Hamilton had to go to the sidelines as well for renewed treatment of his cancer. Then at an Aug. 5 show in Sturgis, S.D., Tyler fell from a catwalk, and his injuries scuttled the rest of the tour.
That was only the prelude to even greater drama by year’s end — not that such episodes were unfamiliar to the Boston-based band.
Notably, there was the band’s initial crash after it first gained superstar status. Formed in 1970, the group reeled off consecutive hit albums “Toys in the Attic” (1975), “Rocks” (1976) and “Draw the Line” (1977), only to have drug and alcohol problems and internal tensions lead to the departures of Perry in 1979, followed by Whitford two years later and a precipitous drop in popularity.
A revamped version of Aerosmith soldiered on with a couple of lackluster albums until 1985, when the original lineup regrouped, cleaned up and regained its hit-making touch with the 1987 album “Permanent Vacation” and the 1989 release “Pump.” The group has had tensions since then, but the war of words that erupted this fall seemed more serious than usual.
First reports surfaced that Tyler intended to leave Aerosmith for a solo career. This prompted the rest of the band to prepare for life without its long-time singer, even saying auditions for a new singer were being planned.
Tyler, meanwhile, changed course, issuing a press release saying he wanted to remain in Aerosmith, which eventually led to a resolution.
“We were very pleasantly encouraged by that news, and after watching the situation for a couple of months and feeling it was real, we put a meeting together with all of the management and everybody, and everybody got in the room and said let’s face it, there is not one person in this room that doesn’t think the smartest thing to do is for the band to go out as Aerosmith and tour,” Hamilton said. “And so that was the result.”
So Aerosmith is rolling again, and Hamilton is ready to carry the momentum from the overseas shows into the North American tour and prove that the band is back in peak form.
“I’m very anxious to play and show off what we’ve been doing in South America and Europe,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that word getting around. I’m really excited about it.”
Aerosmith will play The Palace of Auburn Hills on Aug. 31.