Aerosmith, the iconic rock band, faced a crossroads in their journey, one marked by internal strife, solo ventures, and the challenge of reinventing their sound. Amidst their struggles, Steven Tyler, the band’s charismatic frontman, found himself fearing a ballad that he believed could potentially end his career in the spotlight.
The late 1970s were turbulent times for Aerosmith.
Internal tensions, particularly between Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry, threatened to tear the band apart. Perry’s relationship with Tyler’s wife, Elyssa, added fuel to the fire, leading to Perry’s departure and subsequent formation of his solo project, The Joe Perry Project. Meanwhile, Tyler battled his demons, coping with the pressure through heavy cocaine use.
However, fate intervened in the form of manager Tim Collins, who facilitated a reunion between Tyler and Perry. The band reformed for the album “Done With Mirrors,” but despite their efforts, the album failed to make a significant impact. It was during the recording sessions for “Permanent Vacation” that Tyler faced his career-altering moment.
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Tyler, along with songwriter Desmond Child, penned a softspoken piano ballad titled “Angel.”
The song’s pop-oriented nature divided the band. Tyler, apprehensive about the track’s direction, believed that recording it could mark the end of his time in the limelight. Producer/A&R man John Kalodner recalled Tyler expressing his concern, blaming him for “ruining his career” with the creation of “Angel.”
Even bassist Tom Hamilton shared initial reservations, deeming the song “wimpy.” However, audience reactions during live performances changed his perspective. Hardened biker fans embraced “Angel,” and Hamilton’s objections faded away.
Contrary to Tyler’s fears, “Angel” became a stepping stone.
Collaborations with notable songwriters like Tommy Shaw of Styx and Diane Warren followed, leading to hits like “Amazing.” Aerosmith’s willingness to embrace diverse musical styles, from party anthems to heartfelt ballads, transformed them into elder statesmen of the hair metal genre, solidifying their enduring legacy in the music industry.
In retrospect, “Angel” was not the end but a new beginning for Aerosmith, showcasing their adaptability and resilience in the face of challenges.