Steven Tyler. (Photo by Getty Images)
I was on the air the morning of May 13, 2011 playing Gov't Mule's "Soulshine," as I recall. Suddenly, the studio door burst open and in walked my old friend Steven Tyler, completely unexpected. Oh, I realized he was in the building to do an interview on the Top 40 station to promote his just-released pop single "It Feels So Good," but I'd seen the limo depart the parking lot minutes earlier.
As it turned out, Tyler hadn't realized WZLX was in the same place, just one story up, and when he found out, the impulsive singer stopped the limo and walked back to the building. Led by Kristin Lenkaitis, a striking sales representative (and Aerosmith fan - who isn't!), he was directed through the labyrinth of rooms and up an elevator to the WZLX studio. I'll always owe one to Kristin, by the way!
No preparation, but with Steven, there's always a lot to talk about. He was doing "American Idol" at the time, had sparred with Joe Perry in the press, dreamed of getting the band back together, put out his autobiography, and recently fought his way back to sobriety - again (this time it stuck).
Tyler was in town for his dad's 95th birthday. Victor Tallarico was an accomplished classical piano player who studied at Julliard. "Yeah, I grew up under the piano. I lived in those notes; talk about euphoria. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms - hence the chord structure of 'Dream On' and so forth!"
Things had turned around for Tyler, but the previous two years were bad, culminating in the singer's stage plunge at a 2009 Aerosmith gig in Sturgis, S. Dakota. "I put together 12-years of sobriety and then it was hard. The kids left, the dogs died, my mom passed, Hepatitis C treatments, [problems with] my feet. I was alone at the back of the house [because] my wife left me. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor - which was false, by the way."
Tyler had struggled back, though, into the light of huge mainstream success, but realizing that in his world, "There's [always] a 500-pound gorilla in the parking lot next to the limo."
His inside look at Idol and why he did the TV show, getting Aerosmith back together, and many other points pack a remarkable 12-minutes.