It's no wonder why Steven Tyler is considered "one of the greatest singers of all time" and has even been named in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Singers. After all, Tyler has sold more than 150 million records over the course of his career, primarily as the frontman of legendary rock band Aerosmith. But living the drug-addled life of a rock star does not come without drama.
Steven Tyler Was Born With Music In His Bones
Born Steven Tallarico on March 26, 1948, Steven Tyler always had music in his bones. Tyler grew up in Yonkers, New York with his mother Susan and father Victor, who was an accomplished classical pianist. One of Tyler's first professional gigs was playing drums in his father's band and he continued to play throughout his time in school. Tyler grew up with British Invasion music and was particularly fond of The Rolling Stones, whose shows he'd keep close track of so he could watch them in action.
The Band That Changed Everything
In 1969, Steven Tyler attended a local rock show in New Hampshire where he saw a band called Jam Band, which included bassist Tom Hamilton and guitarist Joe Perry. Struck by their raw talent and Perry's ability to let his hair down and let the music speak for itself, Tyler approached them about playing together. Tyler and Perry had instant chemistry and by 1970, Perry and Hamilton decided to leave their band to form one with Tyler. So the three pals relocated to Boston and Tyler recruited childhood acquaintance Joey Kramer to take on the drums since he insisted on being the lead singer.
They Almost Weren't Called Aerosmith...
Would you imagine that Aerosmith had the same success that they did if they were called "The Hookers" or "Spike Jones"? It's impossible to know, but luckily the band didn't take those names too seriously. The name "Aerosmith" came from the mind of Joey Kramer. He got the idea from listening to Aerial Ballet by Harry Nilsson, the cover art of which showed a circus performer jumping out of a biplane. Kramer's bandmates were turned off by the name at first, thinking he was referring to the Sinclair Lewis novel they read in school. "No, not Arrowsmith," Kramer explained according to sources, "A-E-R-O...Aerosmith."
Aerosmith's Big Break At Max's Kansas City
Aerosmith began performing live shows around the Boston area. They generated a local fanbase and secured a management deal with David Krebs and Steve Leber, who were known for handling the New York Dolls. Krebs and Leber knew that the only way to get Aerosmith a major label deal was to showcase the band in a live show so they had them perform at Max's Kansas City, the epicenter of rock and roll in New York City. It was a pivotal moment for the band since they were noticed by Clive Davis, the head of Columbia Records. At the end of the show, Davis took the band aside and personally told Steven Tyler, "You're gonna be a big star."
Proving They Were Not Like The Rolling Stones
Aerosmith signed a record deal with Columbia Records in 1972, releasing their first two albums in subsequent years. In 1973, "Dream On" only peaked at number 59. The band's popularity didn't really take off until 1975 when they released their third album Toys in the Attic and their fourth, Rocks, right after. In the beginning, Aerosmith was noted for their energetic shows and was often compared to the Rolling Stones — thanks to their bluesy sound and especially for Tyler's resemblance to Mick Jagger. But by the mid-'70s, the band had become popular in their own right and began headlining shows in stadiums and at rock festivals.
Desperate Holcomb Gave In To Tyler's Request
After surviving a house fire while home alone in 1975, Holcomb awoke in the hospital recovering from severe smoke inhalation. Despite that and her admission to previous drug use, the baby was fine. Tyler spent over an hour convincing Holcomb to not have the baby. Five months along, Holcomb initially refused and Tyler suggested that she could go back to her mother to have the baby. Knowing that her mother would not want her to return pregnant and that Tyler no longer wanted his child, Holcomb gave in. She continued to live with Tyler for a year but things were not the same and he had even started seeing other women. She eventually left in 1977.
Tyler's First-Born Became A Famous Actress
1977 was also when Tyler's first child Liv Tyler was born, except the two wouldn't know of their relationship for another eight years. Actress Liv Tyler was born to model Bebe Buell, who had a brief relationship with Steven Tyler. At the time of Liv's birth, Buell was living with musician Todd Rundgren, who took on the responsibility of being Liv's father despite the strong possibility that she wasn't his. It wasn't until around eight years old that Liv met Steven Tyler and his daughter Mia (who was just eight months younger than Liv) at one of Rundgren's shows.
How Liv Found Out Her Dad Was Steven Tyler
Liv couldn't ignore the strong resemblance between her, Mia, and Steven, so she finally confronted her mother about it and was told the truth: Steven Tyler was her real father. While Liv has always maintained that the revelation was a happy one, she has told Telegraph, "I have more empathy for my parents now... As a child I didn't understand why that would happen – how that could happen. Everybody had a different interpretation [of the situation] and how they participated... All that matters is whatever kind of relationship I can have with them now." Over the years, Liv has cultivated a close relationship with Steven Tyler and her younger half-siblings.
The First Necessary Step To Recovery
As the years wore on through the late '70s and early '80s, Aerosmith continued to perform, making necessary replacements as Perry and other members left the band. Tyler's addiction was at its worst during this time, according to reports. In 1984, the original members of Aerosmith were finally back together to embark on the Back in the Saddle Tour when Tyler collapsed on stage. In 1986, the band staged an intervention for Steven Tyler and convinced him to check into rehab, as well as doing the same for themselves and all completed treatment by the mid-'80s.
The Unlikely Collaboration That Actually Worked Out
On the rise of from their newfound sobriety, Aerosmith found revitalization in an unexpected collaboration with hip-hop group Run-DMC. Both parties came from opposite ends of the musical spectrum and were understandably reluctant to work together on a cover of Aerosmith's "Walk this Way," which originally came out in 1975. "The groove kind of lent itself to rap. It kind of pissed me off at first that [Run-DMC] weren't following the lyrics... none of those guys wanted to do this song at first." Eventually, the song was released and became an instant mainstream hit, reaching the top 10 on pop charts and in turn, boosting Aerosmith's comeback.
Smooth Sailing Through The '90s For Aerosmith
Throughout the '90s, Steven Tyler had become a household name. Permanent Vacation and Pump were released in the late '80s, which included some of the band's biggest hits. Aerosmith hit their peak with their 11th album, 1993's Get a Grip, which sold over 15 million copies and won numerous accolades — including two Grammy's. Their steady success led them to perform at the 2001 Super Bowl XXXV halftime show and to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that same year. Also that year, Tyler caused controversy when he changed the words in the National Anthem at the Indianapolis 500, for which he had to apologize.
Tyler Relapses After A New Drug Enters His Life
Despite Tyler's successful recovery in the '80s and the resurgence of his career, 12 years of sobriety would come to a halt after he relapsed in 2000. The demanding nature of being a performer caused Tyler to undergo surgeries in his legs and feet, which only introduced him to a new drug: prescription painkillers. Tyler told Dr. Oz about his struggles with addiction: "I did it so much I couldn't stop... My sobriety cost me nothing less than everything. It's serious when you lose your kids, your wife, your band, your job... and you'll never understand why, because you're an addict."
Steven Tyler And His Children Are Tighter Than Ever
You've already learned about Steven Tyler's first-born, Liv, but what about his other children? Born just eight months after Liv, Tyler's second daughter Mia was born to model Cyrinda Foxe, who Tyler married in 1978, only to divorce nine years later. In 1988, Tyler embarked on his longest marriage to designer Teresa Barrick, with whom he shares daughter Chelsea and son Taj, born in 1989 and 1991 respectively. Tyler and Barrick divorced in 2005. Since then, Tyler has dated Ellen Brady, who was his fiancée for a year before calling it off. For sure, the family members Tyler is closest to are his four children and four grandchildren.
Did Aerosmith Really Want To Dump Steven Tyler?
Despite his relapses from sobriety, Tyler continued to tour with Aerosmith through the 2000s. But by 2009, rumors started swirling that Aerosmith was looking to fire and replace Tyler from his frontman position. These rumors came about after news broke of his relapse and reports that Tyler fell off the stage during one of their shows, leading many to believe he was still heavily under the influence. This was the same year Tyler re-checked into rehab. While the rumors have been denied or unconfirmed and Tyler was eventually able to meet with the band to make up missed tour dates, it couldn't be denied that the relationships within Aerosmith were strained.
Steven Tyler Surprisingly Joins American Idol
The rest of Aerosmith's impatience with Steven Tyler led him to pursue other career prospects on his own, which is why in 2011 Tyler made his debut as a judge on American Idol. Tyler told Rolling Stone, "Did I take this job to show the band? ...yeah. Not to show them, but that I can't be held hostage anymore. I will be my own hostage. The band can't throw me out." There to replace notoriously heartless Simon Cowell, Tyler proved himself to be the complete opposite. Tyler's flamboyance and acceptance made him quite a character on the show, but he only remained there for one season.
Steven Tyler Is Also A Motorcycle Designer
Read any Steven Tyler interview and you'll immediately learn that he's all about the music. But he does have other interests too. In 2007, he launched Dirico Motorcycles with motorcycle designer Mark Dirico. "I don't get much of a chance to get off and be by myself, and the best way to spell freedom is motorcycle. You get on a bike and just take off and you don't have to sign autographs and you can just be with yourself and God above and the great outdoors," Tyler told Motorcycle USA. Tyler even owns a motorcycle that he designed himself and true to his eclectic taste, the motorcycle even has a license plate that says "BOO-YAH."