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Aerosmith survives and thrives

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Some big names showed up for Aerosmith’s show Monday night (Dec. 3) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The biggest of them all, Johnny Depp, even got on stage and jammed on guitar through two songs.

Just another day in the crazy world of Aerosmith, says bassist Tom Hamilton.

“You never know who’s going to show up. And some nights are better than others, but I can honestly say we never suck,” he says, laughing. “We’re determined to put on the best show every night.”

And they’ll do their best again Tuesday night (Dec. 11) at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, with Cheap Trick opening.

Hamilton and Depp have something in common: a love for rock ’n’ roll and acting.

“He’s an actor who always wanted to be a rocker, and I wanted to be an actor and ended up a rocker,” Hamilton says. “I went to Emerson College and almost got into the drama school, then I got hypnotized into joining the band (in 1970). Turns out being in a band is like going to drama school anyway.”

Hamilton and his band mates — Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Joey Kramer and Brad Whitford — have seen it all. Platinum sales, radio hits, sold-out stadiums, drug woes, a split-up, a resurgence in the mid-1980s and then the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Hamilton has had his own drama: two bouts with tongue cancer. He was given an all-clear from his doctors last month.

Time in his home studio and during recording sessions for the band’s 15th studio album, “Music From Another Dimension!” (released Nov. 6), were therapeutic.

Hamilton co-wrote two of Aerosmith’s biggest hits, “Sweet Emotion” and “Janie’s Got a Gun,” but he had never had a full song credit or sung lead until this album.

“I wrote ‘Tell Me,’ based on a chord I had in my head for years. I demoed it as far as I could sing and then let Steven take over.

“The other one, ‘Up on the Mountain,’ is on the deluxe edition. That’s one I sang on. I was worried about it because I had cancer and all the challenges of singing, but our producer, Jack (Douglas), coached me through it.

“When it was all done, it was a tearful moment for me. I’m just so thankful to be here, period. When I leave my studio, I turn off the lights and say thank you. Playing music is a pleasure-seeking endeavor, so I’m enjoying every moment.”

AEROSMITH & CHEAP TRICK
7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 11). Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Tickets start at $46.75. (813) 301-2500; tampabaytimesforum.com.
Last modified: December 5, 2012
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