Steven Tyler Remains Rock's Powerhouse

Steven Tyler Remains Rock's Powerhouse

This living legend is proof that rock stars keep on keeping on.

This living legend is proof that rock stars keep on keeping on.

Text: Dan Hyman

This interview appears in the pages of V113, The Music Issue, on newsstands now. Order your copy of the issue today at shop.vmagazine.com

Steven Tyler isn’t going anywhere. He thinks he’ll stick around for a while. After all, the alternative isn’t exactly appealing. “I look around at people my age,” the Aerosmith frontman says, “and they’re over. They get lazy. They don’t care anymore. Their eating habits are fucked.” Speaking by phone from his home in Maui one recent afternoon, the singer continues, “I’ve had this picture in the back of my mind of being let out to pasture and I’ve always hated that. I thought, why go out that way? If you’re strong, why not stay strong? I’m addicted to next. What’s the next big thing? My life has been go big or go home.”

Tyler’s forward-looking mentality goes a long way toward explaining why he’s that rare breed of horse: the quintessential rock star who’s battled drug abuse, failed marriages, inter-band conflict and yes, the occasional dud album, but has still come out yelping with glee. “Sure, my knees fall apart, my feet are terrible, but there’s nothing I can’t do,” Tyler, who is 70, says. “There’s nothing I can’t sing. I’ve got myself in trouble over the years. I’ve put myself in situations. God knows I spent years with not-so-good people around me. And then there was Aerosmith. We go up and down. We’ve been to the moon and back. In fact, we’ve lived on the dark side of the moon for a lot of years. But it’s all still going strong.”

Things weren’t always what they seemed, however. Back in their salad days, Aerosmith ran on endless aggression and sweet emotion, and lived life at razor’s edge. Watching early footage of Tyler and his band onstage in the ’70s—those willowy shawls, those billowing pants, Tyler’s notoriously massive mouth agape with ferocity as he let out that trademark banshee howl—reads as four men enjoying pure rock revelry. But “I don’t feel like I really enjoyed the ’70s,” Tyler admits. “We were working so much. We were constantly on tour. I didn’t really stop and think about what a badass band I was in.”

Even now he’s still working tirelessly—Tyler released his debut solo album in 2016, and toured the world with Aerosmith last year. But lately the singer has finally given himself to reflecting on his legacy.

“Here I am, this schmuck who grew up in Yonkers,” Tyler says with a laugh, and a half-century later his band is enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; last year he received a UN Humanitarian Award for his non-profit organization Janie’s Fund, which helps young women who are victims of abuse; and yes, in case you were wondering, he has names like Oprah and Obama in his cell phone. To think this all happened “because of this band, because of the career, is beyond,” Tyler says. “It’s too much. It’s almost hard to believe.”

Life is all about taking risks, the singer adds. And this rock and roll fantasy he’s been living remains one gigantic leap he’s thankful for taking. “A lot of people would rather think they’re miserable than take a risk and be happy,” Tyler offers. “So many beautiful things come out of taking risks. Sure, there’s some down time and there’s some bad things but all in all, what a ride! I feel like I’m living in a storybook reality.”

STEVEN TYLER IN MIAMI 1976, PHOTOGRAPHED BY BOB GRUEN
Credits: STEVEN TYLER IN MIAMI 1976, PHOTOGRAPHED BY BOB GRUEN

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