THE ROLLING STONES
While widespread accusations that Aerosmith were slavish Stones copyists were
demonstrably unfair, there's no denying that their English bad-boy precursors
were a huge inspiration, both in terms of music and attitude. Aerosmith
assiduously emulated the Stones' lineup blueprint, right down to the symbiotic
relationship between front man Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards.
While the flashier Stones used black American blues and R&B as a jumping-off
point for their image-savvy myth-making, their London contemporaries the Yardbirds
took a darker, heavier approach that helped lay the groundwork for the birth of '70s
hard rock. An example of how closely the Yardbirds - and their triumvirate of guitar
stars, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page - influenced Aerosmith can be heard
by comparing the two bands' versions of the Johnny Burnette Trio's rockabilly anthem
"The Train Kept A-Rollin'."
THE LEFT BANKE
Best known for its hit "Walk Away Renee," this inventive New York orchestral-pop
combo unintentionally helped to shape the career consciousness of a young Steven
Tyler, who fell in with the group during its waning days. "They had a hit under
their belts, and they were just the laziest mothers ever," Tyler says. "I played
a couple of gigs with them and watched them flush themselves down the toilet. I
couldn't believe they were taking it all so lightly. I remember thinking, 'There's
got to be a better way of doing this.'"
NEW YORK DOLLS
When Aerosmith signed with hotshot managers Steve Leber and David Krebs in the
early '70s, the team's main client was this outrage-courting glam quintet, whose
stripped-down sound presaged punk and whose cross-dressing sartorial stance was
provocative even at the height of glam. While more than one member of Aerosmith
was reportedly jealous of the greater attention the Dolls were receiving at the
time, the struggling Bostonians obviously learned a few lessons in attitude and
presentation from their Big Apple stablemates.
The members of Aerosmith, all of whom began playing music during the 1960s, were
Beatles fans from way back, and the Fab Four's melodic sensibility can often be
detected in their best work. They were also virtually the only act to emerge from
the disastrous 1978 film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, in which they
delivered a credibly tough reading of "Come Together" - with most of their dignity intact.