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DETROIT (Billboard) - Amidst continuing reports of other singers being approached to front Aerosmith, Steven Tyler and his handlers are taking steps to reassert his position in the band.
Tyler's Los Angeles-based attorney, Skip Miller, fired off a letter to Aerosmith manager Howard Kaufman last week, independently obtained by Billboard.com, requesting that Aerosmith's management "immediately cease and desist from engaging in acts and conduct to the harm and detriment of your own client, Aerosmith, and our client who is one of its members."
Miller subsequently told Billboard.com that on behalf of Tyler he has called a meeting of Aerosmith's "shareholders" on February 9 to discuss the band's future, including such matters as the recording of a new album and tours this year of Europe and South America. The four-page letter also states that "we reserve all of our legal rights and remedies in this matter, including, without limitation, pursuing legal action for damages and other appropriate relief."
"Steven Tyler does not want lawsuits," said Miller. "We do not want to go in that direction. The direction we want is Aerosmith, with Steven Tyler, touring in Europe, touring Latin America, releasing a new album ... This is the direction it's all intended to go. It's just amazing to me current management would be taking any other position."
Aerosmith's management declined comment. Miller says he has not yet received a response from Kaufman or any of Aerosmith's other representatives. As for what the next step will be if Aerosmith continues with its search for a new singer, Miller said, "We'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it. I hope we don't. I don't think we will."
Tyler is undergoing therapy for a painkiller addiction brought on by orthopedic problems. The location of his treatment is unknown, but recent public appearances -- singing karaoke at a bar in Palm Springs, Calif., and signing autographs and singing over the public address system at a Home Depot in Rancho Mirage -- led to speculation that he's at the nearby Betty Ford Center.
Miller says the January 27 letter was prompted by Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry's recent comments in the Canadian press about replacing Tyler and by a meeting earlier in January attended by Kaufman; Tyler's music attorney, John Branca; and Tyler's new manager, Allen Kovac of 10th Street Entertainment. Kaufman, according to Miller, "said point blank he didn't think Steven should be part of Aerosmith, flat-out said the band would be better off without Steven -- which, in my opinion, is a very questionable management decision by a fiduciary."
Miller's letter argues that "the animus and negativity you have expressed toward Mr. Tyler has created an inability to protect both Steven as an individual and the band as a whole. This behavior directed toward a person committing to rehabilitation and recovery is detrimental and hurtful on both a personal and professional level. This is a time Steven has dedicated to transform his life."
Miller pointed to Tyler's December 22 statement, in which the singer "confirms his desire to be a part of Aerosmith" and accuses Kaufman of "playing band members off against one another instead of seeking to solidify their relationships and unify them for the overall good of the band ... Contrary to all common sense, you are seeking to bring about the replacement of Steven Tyler. Aerosmith without Steven Tyler is like the Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger, or U2 without Bono. While this management strategy may get the band on the road a few months sooner, it ultimately could destroy Aerosmith."
Miller added, "Can you imagine the manager of the Rolling Stones calling for the replacement of Mick Jagger? It's just absurd ... Tyler is very unique, distinctive. Steven is Aerosmith, along with the others. He's the guy the public knows. He's the singer. I'm blown away that the current manager would even suggest something like (replacing him)."
Both the letter and Miller said that Tyler has been writing songs for a new Aerosmith album and will be ready to perform at the proposed European and South American dates later in the year. Aerosmith had started to record a new album -- its first since 2004's "Honkin' on Bobo" and first of all-original material since 2001's "Just Push Play" -- with producer Brendan O'Brien in late 2008 but put it on hold due to health concerns, including Tyler's bout with pneumonia, and to prepare for a tour last summer with ZZ Top that was aborted after Tyler fell from the stage on August 5 in Sturgis, S.D.
Perry, meanwhile, is touring to promote his latest solo album, "Have Guitar, Will Travel," while Brad Whitford is gearing up for an Experience Hendrix tour in March, and drummer Joey Kramer is promoting his autobiography, "Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top."
The Tyler camp's actions come at a time when rumors are plentiful about who might step in for Tyler. A weekend report by blogger Perez Hilton claimed that Billy Idol, who has been widely reported as under consideration, had to skip a scheduled meeting with Perry because of a cold, while other published reports maintain that Chris Cornell and Paul Rodgers have both been approached. Lenny Kravitz, another rumored candidate, has publicly stated he's not interested.