Had things gone differently, Aerosmith may have taken a page from the Van Halen playbook and replaced its original singer with Sammy Hagar, as the “Jump” rockers famously did after parting ways with David Lee Roth.
In a new interview with Ultimate Classic Rock (via NME), the guitarist opened up about a particularly fraught time in the band’s history when it appeared frontman Steven Tyler would be taking an extended hiatus.
“It was really another one of those times, you don’t keep a band together without a lot of bumps,” said Perry.
“But anyway, over the years, everybody has to bust out and do what they want. And I remember Steven doing that TV show, I thought that was great,” he continued, referring to Tyler’s two-season stint as a judge on “American Idol”.
“I just knew he had to do something like that, and doing that solo record that he did. So the band wasn’t that tight, there was talk and there were so many people involved — lawyers, different managers,” said Perry. “I thought Steven wants maybe to take four years off, do what he wants to do. And so the whole looking around for another lead singer thing, just as soon as that happened, that raised its head.”
According to Perry, he and the other members put together a shortlist that included the likes of Lenny Kravitz, the late Chris Cornell, Paul Rodgers, Billy Idol. However, as they began considering potential replacements for Tyler, rumours emerged that was the frontrunner.
“I’m not sure how it got out there, but Sam I know as a really mellow guy, easy to get along with. And he definitely had the pipes — so I can see why that idea had been floated,” said Perry. “But we also had a shortlist at that point.”
Thankfully, Tyler wound up sticking around. “Things went the way they did, everybody got out of the system what they wanted to, and then we slowly glued back together,” Perry explained.
In a previous interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Hagar claimed that his near-involvement with Aerosmith was more than just a rumour being floated.
“The Aerosmith hint came around that time when Joe Perry tried to get me to join that band, and the management asked me to go to South America and try it out,” said Hagar, admitting his easygoing nature would have sucked all the drama out of the band’s interpersonal dynamics.
“The problem is, I would have taken the toxicity out of the whole thing!” Hagar joked. “It probably would have bombed because I’m not a toxic kind of guy. When the arguments start, I’m outta here. I can’t be in a bad situation like that. But that was real tempting there for five minutes. I got down to Cabo, and I really relaxed and thought about it. I was listening to all of the tunes and all of this stuff. I was thinking, ‘Livin’ On The Edge’, I’ll f**king kill that song!’ And then I woke up on the beach and said, ‘You know what? I can’t do this.’ So that was it.”