LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler says he signed on as a judge of “American Idol,” a show he had never watched, to defy his estranged bandmates.
The colorful 63-year-old singer, on the promotional trail for his new autobiography, “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?,” had to fight off a legal threat to toss him out of the band he co-founded 40 years ago so that he could join America’s top-rated TV show this season.
“Did I take this job to show the band? F---, yeah,” he said in a cover story for Rolling Stone magazine. “Not to show them, but that I can’t be held hostage anymore. I will be my own hostage. The band can’t throw me out.”
Relations between Tyler and his four bandmates hit a new low in 2009 after he fell off the stage in a middle of a song and broke his shoulder, forcing their tour to be canceled.
His frustrated bandmates, far from showing any compassion, went public with their threats to find another singer. Tyler, in turn, said he told his manager, “F--- them, get me a job.” And he ended up on “Idol” after beating about 40 other contenders, including Who rocker Roger Daltrey, for the job.
His bandmates got even more furious, and even claimed in legal papers that his “Idol” gig was tantamount to a refusal to tour -- a fireable offense by the rules of their partnership, Rolling Stone said. But it noted that Tyler’s “Idol” contract specifically gives him the freedom to tour with the band.
In a separate interview with NBC, Tyler said he was still feuding with his bandmates, but has written them a letter seeking a detente and a desire to return to the studio to record the band’s first album of new material since 2001.
“Remember, being in a band this big, it’s a very heavy marriage,” he told NBC anchor Matt Lauer, in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday.
It’s not known if his entreaty was heard, though his allegations in Rolling Stone that two unidentified bandmates were using drugs as recently as last year could pose an obstacle on the road to peace.
Additionally, Tyler told Rolling Stone that he and guitarist Joe Perry -- both staunch advocates of sobriety -- snorted pills for the first time in decades during an aborted recording session a few years ago. (Perry did not comment for the story, and a spokesman did not respond to an email sent by Reuters.)
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Jill Serjeant