Few rock bands have achieved the same level of fame and fortune as the legendary Aerosmith. With a career spanning four decades, Aerosmith has inspired myriad fledgling rock bands. The iconic duo of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are infamous, but represent only two-fifths of the songwriting power behind the band (rounded out by Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, and Joey Kramer). Over the years Aerosmith has released over twenty classic singles and fourteen albums. Here is a list of Aerosmith’s most popular, important, and memorable tunes.
Back in the Saddle – The electrifying first cut off Aerosmith’s 1976 album Rocks, “Back in the Saddle” is a swaggering, powerful bluesy-rock song. Joe Perry’s serpentine guitar riff chugs under Steven Tyler’s banshee cry of “I’m back!” as the song kicks into high gear.
Sweet Emotion – Allegedly written about Joe Perry’s wife (a contributing factor to the drama that would later drive the members to disband in the 1980s), “Sweet Emotion” was Aerosmith’s first breakthrough single. The song features a notable bass line by Hamilton as well as one of the most famous uses of the guitar talk box by Perry.
Crazy – Off of 1994’s Get a Grip, “Crazy” is infamous for its music video. The risque video features Aerosmith vid-staple Alicia Silverstone as well as the first appearance by Liv Tyler, lead singer Steven Tyler’s daughter. The heavy Southern-rock vibe underscores lyrics about an unfaithful woman.
Walk This Way (ft. Run DMC) – Though the original version was released in 1975, it is more notable for the revamped edition with rap legends Run DMC from 1986. This version not only began the rap/rock movement, it also resurrected Aerosmith’s career. “Walk This Way” features one of the most famous guitar riffs of all time.
Janie’s Got a Gun – Aerosmith’s darkest and most haunting song, the lyrics deal with a daughter who takes revenge on her sexually abusive father. Many lyrics were changed to make the song more commercial, including the original title: “Danny’s Got a Gun.”
Livin’ on the Edge – Another song about social issues, “Livin’ on the Edge” was inspired by the Los Angeles riots of 1992. It has been a live concert staple for years and even won a Grammy award in 1993.
Love in an Elevator – This classic tune about a man enjoying the advances of a female coworker (and indulging in an elevator) comes from the band’s 1989 album, Pump. It is infamous for Joe Perry’s two-minute guitar solo.
Dude (Looks Like a Lady) – Co-written by Desmond Child and inspired by the California lingo of Motley Crue, “Dude” is one of Aerosmith’s more lighthearted tunes. Audiences may remember the song’s brilliant inclusion in the film Mrs. Doubtfire.
I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing – “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” became Aerosmith’s most famous song and first number one hit after the release of the blockbuster film Armageddon. American Idol judge Simon Cowell considers it “one of the great songs of all time” and it was even nominated for an Academy Award. Hard to believe that songwriter Diane Warren originally wrote the song for Celine Dion.
Dream On – Considered by many fans to be Aerosmith’s signature song, “Dream On” is a timeless classic. The dreamy piano intro and Tyler’s wailing vocals are legendary. The chord progression has been imitated and mirrored countless times in popular music, a testament to the quality of the original song.