Steven Tyler's Life-Changing Year
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His book is a sort of written cinema verité, a backstage view of the narrative within. “So many things go on behind the scenes with me when I’m writing lyrics,” Tyler says. “Like what I’m thinking about when the band takes seven months to do a record, or what I’m thinking about when I’m on tour. I’d write this stuff down moment to moment. When you’re a rock star you come to a city and you pillage and plunder and then you leave that night, and no one sees you again and they don’t really know the deeper part of what it takes. I got a chance to write about it in the book.”
During the last year, much of the behind the scenes has been Tyler’s regular jaunts between Los Angeles and New Hampshire, where his 95-year-old father, Victor Tallarico, was growing increasingly ill before his death in September. “I had to stop what I was doing with the Idol thing and come home and be with him,” Tyler says. “It got me closer to him.” The time they spent together had him reflecting on moments and memories. “In this last year, I was constantly thinking about how it was, and getting snapped back to the reality of how it is now.”
He says one of the hardest things to see was how bummed out his father was that he couldn’t play the piano well in the last year. His father was a trained classical pianist who attended Juilliard and later taught and gave concerts. “I grew up under the piano,” Tyler says. “I remember the living room in our tiny apartment was about 14 by 18, and there was a black-and-white TV in there and a big piano. Dad used to say practice makes perfect. Anyone who practices for four hours a day gets to the place where music can take you. He lived inside that space. Like kids living inside music now, when they walk around with headphones on.”
He does a little spontaneous rap.
“He’d say, ‘Make sure you do your homework, because you have a test next week. Make sure you finish those lyrics now because in two weeks you’re in the studio.’ I’m not always good at that. I am more like my mother was—jumping over the fence and running into the field. He was about stay home and practice and stick-to-itiveness.”
And while Tyler isn’t a stay-at-home kind of guy, maybe some of what his father taught him did sink in. After all, he’s been practicing, singing, performing with one band since Aerosmith’s nascent days in Boston in the early 1970s. In fact, Aerosmith has been remarkable for its staying power, both as a band and in popularity. In the rock world, if any group of musicians has shown stick-to-itiveness, it’s Aerosmith.
Tyler has hopped another fence with Idol, and now with the new fashion line, which Tyler says came out of a conversation with Tommy Hilfiger. “I suggested he look at what I wore for Idol. He and his team did and came back for styles, and it was like, voilà! And just to be clear, it wasn’t Tommy who designed them but his brother, Andy. The line is called the Andrew Charles Collection. His brother is a little more rocked out.”
The ad campaign, starring Tyler with his youngest daughter, Chelsea, who is a student in the Boston area and a female look-alike of Tyler (the lady version of the dude), launched at Macy’s this fall. And while the Hilfiger name is synonymous with an all-American look, Tyler says he’s more than just an all-American guy.