Last night I watched Aerosmith ICON on MTV, or rather the last half of it. A much better choice than last year’s ICON special, Janet Jackson. Aerosmith kicks ass, always has, always will. One slight thing I take issue with last night, however, was the assertion that Aerosmith is the “only band to make three decades”. Umm, hello? Rolling Stones? Even if you count the album they did (either 1997’s Bridges to Babylon or 1998’s live No Security) as the end of the group (the Stones have not broken up, though the members are currently engrossed in solo projects) that’s still 35 years easy. Still, that Aerosmith is consistently good and even topping their former achievements, as opposed to the Stones which was quite possibly the greatest band in the history of Rock & Roll in the mid 70’s and has been decline ever since, is quite an achievement. Ironic that due to showmanship and Steve Tyler’s lips Aerosmith was originally labeled the “American Stones” or “The Poor Man’s Rolling Stones”.
As far as longevity is concerned, I guess the Stones do hold the record (provided they can be considered “not broken up”). The Grateful Dead came close, but then Jerry Garcia died. KISS is still around, though since they’re currently on a “Farewell Tour” it seems likely that if they do make it to the 30 year mark (2004 I think) it’ll be the end anyway. Besides, KISS has a problem keeping their lineup the same. AC/DC’s been around quite a while, but it’s not really the same since they had a lead singer change (drug overdose).
It still blows my mind that groups I grew up with are celebrating decades. They Might Be Giants started in 1982, Bad Religion’s been around slightly longer, and GWAR even has longtime fans bringing their kids to the show now. Hell, the grunge music I listened to in High School is over a decade old now. When I listen to Appetite for Destruction, I start to feel old.
The other end of the spectrum is the “burn out” artist. Jimi Hendrix recorded for four, maybe five years, but to this day new material is released. The man must have never left the studio, except of course to die of the occasional overdose. Perhaps if Led Zeppelin had not broken up due to the alcohol related death of drummer John Bonham they might have gone south and released imperfect albums – as it stands now their nine studio albums are still brilliant. Had Lennon not been killed we might have seen Beatles reunions and that group would have not enjoyed the legendary status they do now. The Eagles seem less mythical since we know they got back together. Like Denis Leary said, had Elvis died in 1958 we would have been spared the polyester jump suit years.
Therefore, the fact that Aerosmith is still here, still kicks ass, and still has the original lineup is all the more impressive.