Why Spilled Milk Caused Aerosmith’s Brief Breakup

via Letterman / Youtube

Aerosmith, the hard rock powerhouse of the 1970s, experienced a tumultuous period behind the scenes despite their soaring success on stage. The recording of their fifth album, Draw the Line, was marred by drug addiction and personal conflicts among band members. One incident involving spilled milk served as the catalyst for Aerosmith’s brief breakup, revealing the strained relationships and tensions that had been simmering within the band for years. This article delves into the dramatic events surrounding the breakup and the impact it had on the iconic rock group.

During the recording of Draw the Line, Aerosmith’s members were heavily dependent on drugs, recording tirelessly in an abandoned convent known as The Centinel. Guitarist Joe Perry started distancing himself from the band, consumed by his addiction to heroin and spending more time with his wife, Elyssa. Meanwhile, lead vocalist Steven Tyler’s contentious relationship with Elyssa had long been a source of strain within the band, culminating in a bitter rivalry.

Romantic Tensions Turned Physical

As Perry and Elyssa grew closer, Tyler retaliated by becoming involved with Elyssa’s best friend, Cyrinda Fox, eventually marrying her. The romantic tensions between the band members spilled over into their performances, with Tyler occasionally displaying aggressive behavior on stage, throwing microphone stands and getting dangerously close to Perry. The creative partnership between Tyler and Perry, once a driving force for the band’s success, had reached a breaking point.


The Infamous Spilled Milk Incident

The band’s fateful appearance at a rock festival in Cincinnati would mark the turning point in Aerosmith’s journey. Backstage, an argument between Elyssa and bassist Tom Hamilton’s wife escalated, with Elyssa resorting to physical actions, including throwing a glass of milk. Perry, returning to assess the situation, found himself caught in the crossfire. The tensions and conflicts that had been brewing for years finally exploded, leading to a heated argument between Perry and Tyler.


The Fallout and Breakup

Feeling that his wife had been disrespected, Perry walked out of the venue, never to return. He formed his own band, The Joe Perry Project, leaving Aerosmith without their iconic guitar hero. Although the band managed to release the album Night in the Ruts with replacement guitarist Jimmy Crespo, the reception from their audience was lukewarm. Guitarist Brad Whitford also reached his breaking point during the recording of the next album, Rock in a Hard Place, opting to pursue his own projects.


The story behind Aerosmith’s breakup highlights the turbulent personal dynamics that often accompany rock and roll success. The spilled milk incident, which symbolized the culmination of years of tensions and conflicts, led to a brief but significant breakup. While the band faced dark days and member departures, they ultimately reunited and forged a path to renewed success. The legacy of Aerosmith stands as a testament to the resilience and enduring power of rock music.