Steven Tyler is opening up about his sobriety.
The Aerosmith frontman just celebrated nine years of sobriety after four attempts. In the February edition of GQ, Tyler was interviewed along with nine other sober musicians, and he recalls his best and worst moments on his journey from addiction to recovery.
“I Couldn’t Get High Enough.”
“I was a beautiful little boy that lived in the woods of New England, New Hampshire,” Tyler told GQ. “So I grew up in the woods listening to the wind. It was jus the silence and Mother Nature, no one around – it was an awful lot of magic there. When I started smoking weed, in ’65, ’66, it kind of enhanced those magic feelings.”
The 70-year-old revealed that it wasn’t until he joined Aerosmith that using became a big part of his life. “It was more or less the thing to do,” Tyler noted. “I don’t think there were any bands that even knew what sober was.”
After asking what substances him and the mega-band drifted towards, the frontman stated, “we would do cocaine to go up, quaaludes to come down,” as well as persistent alcohol use. In Tyler’s 2011 memoir, “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? ” a slew of drugs were mentioned including cocaine, OxyContin, heroin, methamphetamine, methadone and LSD were mentioned. “I couldn’t do enough,” Tyler stated. “I couldn’t get high enough.”
It Works in The Beginning
As the success poured in, so did the substances. The band filled arenas such as Madison Square Garden, and continued their heavy drug use throughout two decades coming to the belief that an altered state helped with the creative process.
“After two encores in Madison Square Garden, you don’t go and play shuffleboard or Yahtzee, you know? You go and rock the fuck out.” He added, “we believed that the road to wisdom was through excess. But it got really bad in the ’80s. Stupidly, naively, when I had an album that didn’t do as good as the one before it, my thinking was well, obviously I didn’t drink nearly enough.”
And while nobody is immune to addiction, overtime the consequences of his substance abuse started to come in full effect.
Tyler said, “what happens with using is, it works in the beginning, but it doesn’t work in the end. It takes you down. There’s nothing but jail, insanity or death.”
“I’d Be Dead By Now.”
Detailing the massive effects his using had on himself and others around him, Tyler noted that as time went by the sense of positivity began to diminish. “I was just an angry fuck when I got high,” recalling one trip to Anguilla where he “got thrown off the island by the police. And, you know, riding down the street on the windshield of a car. Stuff.”
The Father of four looks back and admitted that if he had kept the course he was on, “Well, I’d be dead by now.”
After a successful intervention from his bandmates, Tyler said the rest of the band members made their terms clear. “If I didn’t go away to rehab, then the shit’s over…but I’m grateful that that happened. ‘Cause I would have never seen the light.”
Tyler also noted that he was fearful the impact that sobriety would have on his creative process. “When you’re high and you create something out of thin air, and the whole world is singing your fucking song that you wrote stoned, it’s hard to think that getting high wasn’t the reason that all happened. However, I’d get so high that I couldn’t be creative anymore.”
However, it seems that sobriety squashed those fears, because it was the springboard that took Aerosmith to the next level.
“All the magic that you thought worked when you were high comes out when you get sober,” he noted. “You realize it was always there, and your fear goes away.”
The Risk of Relapse
The road hasn’t been easy for Tyler, as he’s attempted getting sober a handful of times. However, reflecting back on his journey he recognizes what he would lose if he relapsed.
“I got a band that’s still together, the guys are still alive, everyone’s healthy. We play better than we did 50 years ago.” He adds, “I mean, there was a certain rawness when we played clubs and we were all fucked up. Sure, I get it. But that band is still together and still sought-after. People still want us for a million-plus dollars a night. And that’s what’s at risk if I use again. And my kids. My dogs. My beautiful fucking house in Maui. My girlfriend. Everything is at risk.”