The first time I ever saw Steven Tyler was in 1978, when Aerosmith turned up in the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie. They slither onstage in skin-tight leather pants and perform a repulsive but awesome version of "Come Together." At the time, as was often the case for me at that age, I knew there was something "dirty" going on, but just what the hell that was was a mystery to me. All I knew was this band, identified as some dude named "Arrow Smith" by my friend Milan, was scary, and the singer's face was, like, all lips and hair, beady-eyed and reptilian. Scary, yes, but there was something sexual going on. I mean, they were surrounded by girls doing weird things with flagpoles.
That was my introduction to Steven Tyler, and when I got older and came to know the value of "sleaziness," especially in terms of rock 'n' roll, Tyler was right up there with my biggest heroes sleaziness-wise: Mick Jagger and Bon Scott. The three of them form a sort of Rock 'n' Roll Dirtbag Mount Rushmore. Besides his God-given leer, Tyler has always had a knack for filthy-minded lyrics and song titles (see the song title "Lord of the Thighs" and all of "Walk This Way," for starters). After a very public descent into drugs and alcohol, a sober Tyler and co. re-emerged in the '90s with music that relied a little too heavily on synthesizers rather than Joe Perry's snaking guitar. Nevertheless, it made them more popular than ever. For his part, Tyler transformed himself into what looked like a robed, meth-addicted gypsy. I'm pretty sure the dude started wearing a turban.
Anyway, his previous love for partying morphed into a sort of sex-god persona. "Love in an Elevator" and, ugh, "Pink" well illustrate Tyler's predilection for the physical act of love, or lust, as the case may be. Most recently, he's won over another jillion people with his work as a judge on American Idol, with good reason. For one thing, he knows what he's talking about. Secondly, he comes off as disarmingly personable. But, as likeable as he is on that show, he can't shake the sleazoid rep, as evidenced by the running segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, "Steven Tyler's Creepy Leer of the Night." This is not a bad thing, but let's face it, it's kind of weird.
Below you'll find a playlist detailing some of Tyler's ballsiest moments as a singer for Aerosmith. The thing is, Tyler's best moments are usually also Joe Perry's best moments, so amid the archetypal rock screams, mean-spirited but awesome lyrics ("Seasons of Wither"), and endless leering, there will be guitars, guitars, guitars. Have fun.