Entertainment behind the scenes
Who could replace Steven Tyler in Aerosmith?
Aerosmith without Steven Tyler is like cocaine without a straw, or alcohol without a hangover.
But as fans come to grips with the very real possibility that the rubber-faced singer may abandon his scarf-draped microphone stand at the helm of one of America’s most successful rock bands, the next question is: Who should replace him?
Guitarist Joe Perry said on Monday that the band is “positively” seeking a new singer, apparently having tired of the silent treatment Tyler has meted out to them in recent months. The final straw was an article published last week by Classic Rock magazine, in which Tyler said he was going to focus on “Brand Tyler.” Perry – Tyler’s musical foil for 40 years – was not happy to learn about the singer’s plans online, and upped the ante by saying Aerosmith would continue without him.
One candidate to replace Tyler could be Hagen Grohe, a German singer plucked from obscurity to sing on Perry’s newly released solo album, “Have Guitar, Will Travel.” Perry has taken the solo project on the road, and Grohe does versions of such Aerosmith nuggets as “Walk This Way” and a reggaefied “Dream On,” in a soaring vocal style reminiscent of Axl Rose. When Reuters asked Perry last month about Hagen eventually replacing Tyler, a somewhat outlandish idea at the time, Perry did not exactly rubbish the proposal.
Bands who replace lead singers have a mixed track record. AC/DC went on to bigger and better things with Brian Johnson, although many fans three decades later still long for his late predecessor Bon Scott. Deep Purple moved into the big leagues after Ian Gillan replaced Rod Evans in 1969. Van Halen survived the 1985 replacement of David Lee Roth with Sammy Hagar, but the rock band stumbled badly in 1996 when it brought in Gary Cherone.
And then there’s INXS, which struggled to replace late singer Michael Hutchence, despite or because of a reality-TV contest. Sublime’s recent attempt to reunite with a new singer was shot down by a judge at the behest of the family of the ska-punk band’s late frontman. Others like Queen did not even bother trying — at least until 2004, 13 years after the death of Freddie Mercury, when two-thirds of the group’s surviving members joined up with British blues singer Paul Rodgers.
Which brings us back to Aerosmith. Rodgers, the former frontman of Bad Company, is Perry’s favorite singer. People magazine facetiously (we hope) suggested Adam Lambert or Roth as replacements. Maybe Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame, would be a good fit? Or Pink, especially since Aerosmith had a hit song of that name? Or a merger with Run-DMC, whose rap version of “Walk this Way” reignited Aerosmith’s career? Or perhaps the answer is staring at Perry in the mirror?