Steven Tyler vs. Joe Perry: Who Rocked Their Aerosmith Autobiography Better?

Steven Tyler and Joe Perry Aerosmith Autobiography Covers

Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, also known as the Toxic Twins, have survived the rise and fall and rise again of Aerosmith. They’re one of the few bands that can boast 40+ years with all their original members. And, they still play incredibly well. During the years, there have been countless stories and rumors surrounding the band. Now we’re getting some insight into what really happened as each offer their Aerosmith autobiography.

In 2011, Steven Tyler released his autobiography, Does the Noise in my Head Bother You? A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir. Late last year, Joe Perry released his own, Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith. Each gives his take of their history and infamous stories.

Steven Tyler on Stage in Cleveland

Both talk about the drugs, the sex, the fights, the success and everything in between. With Steven Tyler’s stories, you can hear his excitement, frustration and every emotion he felt. Meanwhile, Joe Perry lets us into what was going through his mind. He also gives a great look at why he left Aerosmith in the early ’80s and kept the Joe Perry Project going until he returned to the band.

The biggest critique I’ve got about both books is that they gloss over the music. Both talk about their early influences and what led to forming Aerosmith. But then, they only touch on the recording of the records. They seem to be more timeframe references or lead-ins to other conflicts. I get that there’s a lot to get to (60+ years in about 400 pages), but it falls a little flat due to the lack of depth in this area.

In reading both points of view, I’m left with a couple of conclusions. First, if it wasn’t clear before, it definitely is now. Joe Perry is the “rock” in Aerosmith. Steven Tyler is pushing for the pop hits. Perry said a couple of times (paraphrasing) that when you try to write hits, the heart and soul get lost. He wants to write the music he knows and loves (blues and rock) and the hits will come because the songs are authentic.

Joe Perry on Stage

Second, when it comes to the band members’ relationships, there’s a lot of damage. That’s especially true with Steven Tyler. The sad part is that their management and representation likely caused the majority of it. There was a lot of “Steven said this…” and “Joe said that…” coming from their managers to manipulate the other members. When Steven was in the hospital after falling off the stage in 2009, he was mad because none of the band members contacted him. Meanwhile, Tyler’s management told Perry and the rest of the band that he didn’t want to hear or see them. Who’s right? They probably both are and neither knows who said what.

That’s not to say any of them are completely innocent. Perry says he no longer trusts Tyler (and told him as much). The biggest reasons were Tyler auditioning for Led Zeppelin and accepting the American Idol gig without telling the band. Tyler’s book ends as he’s accepting the American Idol job. Perry’s book goes a bit beyond, including his reaction to hearing the announcement through a press release.

So, who rocked their Aerosmith autobiography better? It is interesting to read both and get their viewpoints…especially when they differ. If you were to only read one though, I’d go with Joe Perry. The biggest reason is that after reading Rocks, I was rooting for Perry to take control of Aerosmith. He could get them to make at least one more CD that rocks. But, after reading Tyler’s book, I came away liking him a bit less…and I’ve always been one of his biggest fans.

If you’re a huge Aerosmith fan like me, there are two other books worth checking out. Walk This Way by Stephen Davis and Aerosmith and Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock bottom at the Top by Joey Kramer give more insight.

Are you an Aerosmith fan? Have you read either or both books? Which Aerosmith autobiography do you like better? Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please share it.

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