Should Aerosmith "Dream On" Or "Walk This Way"?

What is a band without its lead singer?

Until I was in my 30's, I hardly ever listened to hard rock and roll.  In fact, even in college, the hardest rocking band I had in my record (meaning LP) collection was Chicago.

Then, in the late 1980's, I began getting interested in what by then was "Classic Rock".  Around that time, the band which seemed to exemplify the genre's excesses began to clean up and make what may be the biggest comeback in rock history.

Aerosmith is one of a handful of bands which began in the '70's that's still around today, and still has fans as young as fans of its early years.  Recently, however, it's been the subject of a lot of rumors, especially involving lead singer Steven Tyler.

Tyler has been there from the beginning, and helped hold the band together when two of its members, guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford left (briefly, as it turned out) in the late '70's. But while Aerosmith was on tour this summer, reports began to circulate he had hired his own manager and was considering seeking a solo career. And that was BEFORE an injury forced the band to cancel the rest of the tour. There have also been rumors Tyler has slipped back into substance abuse.

Perry, who, coincidentally, is currently on tour with his own band and released a CD in October, says he learned recently Tyler wants to take "time off" (reportedly for two years) to launch his own career. He also has said that, if indeed, Tyler is out, Aerosmith, approaching its 40th anniversary, could go on with a new lead singer.

Some bands, notably Journey, have been able to do this.  But they haven't been able to sustain the success they had with their original leaders.

Let's face it: the faces of certain bands are their lead singers.  Can one imagine, for instance, the Rolling Stones (to which Aerosmith has long been fairly or unfairly compared) without Mick Jagger?  U2 without Bono? When The Police re-formed for a tour a couple of years ago, it was with Sting, who has had his own highly successful solo career. Led Zeppelin did the same not long ago with all of its surviving members.

While many of the Beatles' fanatical fans lamented it back in 1970, maybe the Fab Four got it right when they decided to end the band and go their separate ways. And while it's just a few months shy of a milestone, maybe Aerosmith should do the same. If it's like any other band which has had its day, it will continue to sell music as long as new fans discover it.

Old bands never die, and their fans (old and new) won't let them fade away.




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