OMG, it's Steven Tyler
This is a new experience for me. I am not easily impressed...by celebrities, money, cars, whatever. That is not to say that I don't appreciate talent, beauty, and aesthetics. I love films, theater, opera, ballet, music, and art. But it has to be the very best. I guess you might say I'm a cultural snob. Give me Puccini, Bach, Beethoven, and Shakespeare. Choreographers like Balanchine and Bob Fosse. Performers like Baryshnikov and Susanne Farrell. And DeNiro, Pacino, Depp, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Parker, Chris Botti and Yo Yo Ma. As well as Playwrights like Ibsen, O'Neill and Mamet and writers like Garcia Lorca. And I can't leave out painters like Matisse, Renoir, and Degas. I've seen, read or read about every single one of them. And those experiences have certainly infused and influenced my taste in the arts.
So why am I impressed with Steven Tyler? One reason is because I love rock music and he's an icon. My kids grew up in the 70s and I was exposed to all of it. Another reason is I think Tyler is an unusually fine talent and performer, although I must admit I was not a fan until very recently. When he became a judge on American Idol, I wanted to know all about him. So I started reading articles and scanning the net for information about him. Turns out he's a pretty nice, compassionate guy. Yes, he had a drug problem at one time, but he dug himself out of it and I think that is to be admired.
Then, after seeing and hearing several of his concerts and videos, I became aware of how talented he is and what a brilliant performer. What really locked it in for me was a concert I saw him do with Chris Botti, amazing jazz trumpet player, and the Boston Pops orchestra. I've posted it here so you can see what I mean.
If you are not a Rock enthusiast, you might wonder why Tyler is screaming through most of the first piece. It's certainly not because he can't sing without doing so, as is evidenced in the second song, Smile. No, the screaming is part of a rock singer's persona and so they can be heard above the electric guitars. Also part of that persona is flamboyant clothing, long hair, jewelry, makeup, and outrageous behavior on stage. It all adds to the theatrics that make rock what it is. And Tyler is masterful when it comes to all this, besides being a damned good singer. He certainly demands attention and has thousands of followers.
Some people are turned off by him. They forget the extreme dress and behavior is all part of the package. They don't think of it in terms of creating a persona. And it is a persona. The outrageous behavior is only part of the real person, as is evidenced when you see him in another venue, such as American Idol. His warmth, humor, and sensitivity come through loud and strong. Yes, he's wearing weird stuff...feathers, long coats, and ruffled shirts. And yes he's saying some weird stuff, but that's all part of the package. After all he's in show business and extremes are his high cards. They are part of his brand, so to speak.
On the same concert, Tyler sang a poignant rendition of Smile to his father, who had lost his wife (Tyler's mother) just two months before. He was sitting in the first row.
In a review, Richard Rushfield, a former Times staffer and author of the book American Idol: The Untold Story , said: "Amazing
singer and front man, funny, sarcastic, off-the-wall, quirky Italian. Yes, that’s Tyler but did you know he was also kind, generous, caring and a wonderful father? Steven Tyler: rock legend, Liv Tyler's dad, and now American Idol judge has been in show business so long, we feel like we practically know the guy.
"Tyler is a phenomenon in himself," says Rushfield "[he} gives some of the thrills that the Osbournes brought, of seeing one of the few true gods of rock in a seemingly relaxed setting. His presence in the early episodes has brought a lot of energy and life to a production that had felt listless and bored with itself in recent years." Tyler is extremely seductive. If you haven’t done so already, just watch him for a while, you’ll see what I mean.
Many would agree that rock's all-time charismatic and entertaining frontman would have to be Steven Tyler. Born Steven Victor Tallarico on March 26, 1948 (just outside New York City in Yonkers), he began playing drums at an early age, but eventually switched to vocals after discovering the Beatles, as well as the tougher blues rock of the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. After moving to Boston in the late '60s, Tallarico hooked up with two members of an up-and-coming outfit called the Jam Band, guitarist Joe Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton, and after finding drummer Joey Kramer and second guitarist Ray Tabano (who was eventually replaced with Brad Whitford), renamed themselves Aerosmith.
The band became a regional sensation, combining the blues sleaze of the Stones/Yardbirds, as well as the power of such hard rock acts as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, as Steven (who by now had changed his name to "Steven Tyler") proved to have a flair for the outrageous -- his stage outfits resembled a rock & roll gypsy look, while long scarves dangled from his microphone stand.
Tyler, who was also known for his heavy drug and alcohol abuse in the 1970s and early 1980s, completed drug rehabilitation in 1986 and had remained sober for over 20 years. He recently made headlines in May 2008 when he checked into the Las Encinas Hospital's drug rehabilitation clinic in Pasadena, California, for substance abuse
"Of all the things I ever lost, I miss my mind the most." said Tyler
Thanks to his unforgettable one-liners and general rockstar charisma, Steven Tyler, 63, has become an unexpected fan favorite of the American Idol audience.
The legendary rocker might be known for his history of hard-living, but he insists that underneath the wild hair, tight pants, and wailing voice beats the heart of a down-home boy from Yonkers, New York.
During the American Idol event on Monday night during the 28th annual William S. Paley Television Festival in Los Angeles, Tyler showed his softer side and explained why he has always had more in common with middle America than people realize.
Tyler is 63 today and on the Idol show Thursday, Stevie Wonder, the contestants and the other judges wished him a happy birthday. He appeared to be surprised and very happy. (See video below.) Also, below is one o my favorite performances of Tyler. his tribute to the Beetles Paul McCartney