The musician Steven Tyler wanted to “smack in the face”

Steven Tyler

The rock and roll of the early 1970s was going to get considerably heavier. After The Beatles and the British invasion crashed land in the US, the British blues boom introduced a plethora of acts to the American public. Led Zeppelin served as a symbol of the potential of heavy music. When Steven Tyler assembled Aerosmith, he had a different idea in mind, despite Zeppelin paying homage to the classics.

Tyler would create the ultimate rock and roll group, collaborating with Joe Perry to produce the biggest hits of the era. He would take the bombast of Zeppelin and channel it through The Rolling Stones’ blues-infused swagger. Tyler loved British rock, but the origins of songs like “Same Old Song and Dance” and “Movin’ Out” predated The Beatles.

Tyler has respected the blues throughout every phase of Aerosmith’s career. In addition to covering several blues greats for their covers album Honkin On Bobo, Tyler would later write songs that might have been a contemporary take on classic Mississippi Delta bluesmen’s songs, such as “St John” from Permanent Vacation, which featured the harmonica.

Until Elvis Presley, many blues musicians were unknown; none of their songs received the radio attention they merited. Due to persistent segregation in 1950s America, many people were first introduced to bluesy classics like “Hound Dog.” This introduction came through the singing of the “King of Rock and Roll.” He would send teenage crowds into a frenzy whenever he performed.

Presley respected musicians like Big Mama Thornton and Sister Rosetta Tharp but never credited the original writers of the songs. Presley’s contract required him to have a songwriting credit on every song he performed. Even though he didn’t contribute much music, he would only make a few minor changes.

This reasoning wasn’t limited to blues performers either. Presley turned down country music icon Dolly Parton’s offer to sing one of her songs. Instead, she chose to record the timeless song “I Will Always Love You” on her own. Steven Tyler believed that Presley’s treatment of black musicians constituted the ultimate musical injustice. Despite facing disapproval from some, Presley’s impact on rock and roll was undeniable, leading to his recognition as one of the genre’s founding fathers.

As for his legacy, Tyler told The San Diego Tribune he wanted to give “The King” a taste of his own medicine. “If I could sit down with Elvis, I’d smack him in the face for not giving credit to all those black musicians,” Tyler said. I’ve been having trouble with it for years now. He was a wonderful man, but he mistakenly claimed all the credit, perhaps without realizing it.

While blues’ founding fathers may have had their song rights revoked, other musicians happily credited the original artist. The Rolling Stones credited Robert Johnson for their masterful renditions of songs like “Love In Vain” and “Stop Breaking Down.” Tyler was guilty of copying the looks of his favorite musicians. However, he was always aware of the importance of giving credit to those who came before him.

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