The original lineup included Steven Tyler (vocals), Joe Perry (guitar) and Tom Hamilton (bass guitar), soon adding Ray Tabano as a second guitarist, then replacing him with Brad Whitford (formerly of Earth Inc). Tyler, who was originally a drummer and singer, became a full-time vocalist when drummer Joey Kramer joined. After some local success doing live shows, Aerosmith signed with Columbia Records in 1972 and issued a debut album, Aerosmith that included a minor hit single, "Dream On". A sample of this song was used in 2003 on Eminem's single Sing for the moment. After constant touring, the band released Get Your Wings (1974), which did quite well on the charts.
It was 1975's Toys in the Attic that established Aerosmith as international stars. Part heavy metal, part glam rock and part punk music, Toys in the Attic was an immediate success, starting with the single "Sweet Emotion", then a successful rerelease of "Dream On" and a new song from the album, "Walk This Way". Both of the band's previous albums recharted. Aerosmith's next album, Rocks, went platinum swiftly and featured two FM hits, "Back in the Saddle" and "Last Child". The next album, Draw the Line, was not as successful as the previous releases. While continuing to tour and release a few more albums in the late 1970s, Aerosmith acted in the movie version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Joe Perry also left the band, followed by Brad Whitford. After replacing the two ex-members with Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay, Aerosmith released its mammoth-selling Greatest Hits album in 1980, followed by a relative failure, Rock in a Hard Place. A reunion tour was scheduled in 1984 after the return of Perry and Whitford. Tyler collapsed onstage due to drug problems early in tour.
1985 saw the release of Done With Mirrors, which fared much better than any previous Aerosmith album since the late 1970s. By the time the album was released, Tyler and Perry had exited rehab and appeared on Run D.M.C's massively successful cover of "Walk This Way", blending rock and roll and hip hop. Aerosmith's comeback began with Permanent Vacation (1987), which included "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", "Rag Doll" and "Angel". The true comeback album, however, was Pump, featuring three Top Ten singles in "Janie's Got a Gun", "What It Takes" and "Love in an Elevator". Get a Grip (1993) was just as successful, reestablishing Aerosmith as a serious musical force again.
Aerosmith signed to Columbia Records in the early 1990s, but had to complete two contractual albums for Geffen before recording for the new label. The next album was Nine Lives, and was plagued with personnel problems, including the firing of manager Tim Collins. The reviews were mixed, and Nine Lives fell down the charts quickly. This was followed by a series of late 1990s albums that sold respectably, but have shown the beginning of a second decline in popularity and critical respect.
Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) wrote Arrowsmith. Aerosmith may have taken their name from the book.