Released: 2009, Harper Collins
This year is the 40th Anniversary of the release of Aerosmith’s debut record. I’ve been on a bit of an Aerosmith kick lately, so the timing is good. While I believe they are not ‘Metal’, the band has inspired legions of Metal artists. Many Metal bands such as, Testament and Metal Church have covered Aerosmith songs and some of us here at the Metal-Rules Global Command Center have a soft-spot for the pioneering bands of the 70’s. That is why you will occasionally you will get a review of a Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Rush and yes, Aerosmith. So to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the band I’ve whipped up four quick reviews of a couple of books, a box-set and the last studio album. Enjoy.
Joey Kramer is the first member of Aerosmith to write his autobiography. HIT HARD was released back in 2009 and Steven Tylers book followed in 2011. Reportedly Tom Hamilton and Joe Perry are both working on theirs. As a member of a massive band, like Aerosmith, being first out of the gate to write a book must has it’s advantages because, if there is a conscious choice to air the dirty laundry of the band, it almost becomes gospel truth and the other guys in the band have to go on the defensive and say, ‘No. It wasn’t like that’. So, Kramer gets to be the first to tell the story, although, Aerosmith has already had a number of books published and they have enjoyed a high-profile media life for decades so there may not be that much ‘dirty laundry’ to air.
HIT HARD is a nice hard-cover with lots of photos of Joey, tons of them from all across his life. The layout and design is really nice, it’s an easy read at 240 pages and Kramer maintains a fairly conversational style to his prose. It seems a bit sloppy in parts, which seems odd because he had a couple of co-writers who could have cleaned it up a bit. Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue pens a sincere and quite topical foreword about the legendary drummer.
It is always interesting to hear from the lesser-known members of big name bands. Quite often, in my mind, those guys probably have the most to say because usually the singer or guitarist has had the lion’s share of the spot-light over the years. In the case of Joey Kramer, this is not exactly the case, meaning he doesn’t have a ton to say about Aerosmith. For fans expecting a lot about Aerosmith, they may be disappointed as there is very little of that in the book. HIT HARD truly is his own life-story and while Aerosmith is the overarching framework of his career, he doesn’t discuss the band, music, albums or tours that much. When he does a lot of it is pretty negative, it seems clear he harbors some pretty deep resentments and for years had a toxic relationship with Steven Tyler. The thrust of the book is almost a purge of decades of negative emotion and lifestyle, so it is a very intimate story in that aspect. He goes into detail about his addictions, divorces, rehabs and meltdowns and clinical depression. Kramer doesn’t come across as a happy guy.
HIT HARD was a brave book, as he really didn’t pull any punches about the bad times both personally and professionally. Accordingly, it was tough to read at times because it was, well, frankly, depressing as Kramer tells of how he dealt with childhood rejection mental and physical abuse, by himself falling into substance abuse. I think it took courage to write his story in such a frank manner and that is the books greatest strength. In the past I have criticized a number of Rock and Metal autobiographies for being shallow or focusing too much on the past and skimming over the recent years. Kramer avoids both of those problems. His book is contemporary and he just doesn’t regurgitate the same old sex, drugs rock and roll story about the 70’s that perhaps some readers may have expected from the first member of Aerosmith to write a book. HIT HARD over time may stand alone as one of the better Rock autobiographies and nicely compliments the number of other Aerosmith books on the market.