Elyssa Jerret

Elyssa Jerret

I don’t know the specifics (because I’ve only just started Walk This Way, the Aerosmith autobiography), but there was an argument between Elyssa Jerret (Joe Perry’s girlfriend) and Terry Cohen (bass player Tom Hamilton’s girlfriend). I think it’d be a little generous of me to say Elyssa was one freaked out psychotic devil woman. Terry, if she was anything like her funnyman boyfriend-later-husband, probably directed a very witty and cuttingly accurate barb at Elyssa. Words followed, there was probably cursing, and it climaxed with Elyssa pouring a glass of milk down the back of Terry’s shirt.

It was like an episode of Real Housewives, but with more calcium.

But probably the most famous feud was the hate triangle involving Perry, Jerret and Steven Tyler. Steven and Elyssa hated each other, Joe was caught in the middle, AND they were all doing copious amounts of cocaine.

This wouldn’t have been particularly remarkable if that swirling mess of animus hadn’t produced one of Aerosmith’s most famous and enduring songs, “Sweet Emotion.” Released on Toys In the Attic in 1975, the song features an eerie and sorta-voodoo intro with a smooth and steady bass riff under a talkbox guitar. In live performances, Joe took to saying “sweet emotion” into the talkbox, an eye-rolling testament to how famous the song would later become.

After the drums kick in, the full band begin a groove, the level of which hadn’t been seen previously in their career (“Lord of the Thighs” hinted at it). The guitar riff is simply killer, and right up there with “Iron Man,” “Layla” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as an immortal rock staple. The heaviness of this song was also previously unseen, but that alone wouldn’t equal even a tenth of what this song does. The heaviness combined with the smooth delivery and effortless grind are what make “Sweet Emotion” great.

Even given that it’s musically one of the most recognizable riffs in rock history and easily Aerosmith’s best song, the lyrics Steven Tyler sings and the way he sings them are the icing on this deliciously dirty cake. Steven took all the frustration Elyssa caused in him and turned it into art, like any great singer does. Elyssa is never mentioned by name in the song, of course, and the entire thing isn’t even about her, but there’s a definite vibe of “what a waste of human skin you are.” Let’s break it down:

Talk about things that nobody cares: Elyssa apparently had a habit of prattling on and on long after everyone had stopped listening. I’m sure you know people like that (or ARE people like that).

Wearin’ out things that nobody wears: Steven’s insulting her fashion sense now – understandable, but a bit of a low blow.

Callin’ my name but I gotta make clear / I can’t say, baby, where I’ll be in a year: wherever Steven is, he hopes it will be far away from Elyssa.

There’s more about Elyssa, but Steven also addresses Joe about Elyssa’s constant stream of ugliness (Tellin’ you things like “your girlfriend lied” / You can’t catch me ‘cause the rabbit done died).

Around the time of Toys In the Attic’s release, Steven had a brief “relationship” with model Bebe Buell. There’s quotes around that because it was really a sex-driven fling, nothing more. Buell had developed a interest in dating rock stars, sorta like a super-groupie, ever since dating teenage drummer Barry Cowsill when she was 16 (she was actually older than him). Even though she lived with Todd Rundgren for many years, she simultaneously dated the likes of David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger (who HASN’T he slept with?). And sure enough, she had a fling with Steven Tyler. But unlike her others, this one produced a child. And more than that, this child grew up to be super-famous in her own right; she’s none other than the lovely Liv Tyler.

Liv Tyler

Liv Tyler

Bebe kept the true parentage of her child from both Liv and Steven. Liv grew up thinking that Todd Rundgren was her father, only meeting Steven in 1985, and then just thinking he was a nice man who bought her a Coke. But she noticed a strange similarity between herself and Steven’s other daughter, Mia. After that, the truth was revealed.

Steven didn’t know anything about the pregnancy or Liv’s existence until shortly before meeting Liv for the first time, right around the time he got clean of drugs. He was very skeptical at first when Bebe told him they had a daughter together, but the very first time he saw Liv he was nearly brought to tears.

They looked alike, sure, but I think there was something else, too. There must have been a little bell somewhere deep inside Steven that was put there when Liv was born, but that Steven didn’t even know about until it rang when he first saw Liv. It’s a bell that comes to you when you give a piece of yourself to someone, or someone gives a piece of themself to you. I’m familiar with that bell; it rang inside of me the first time I saw Annie, my bone marrow donor (more on that later).

Next: what’s a Bull Moose Jackson? Is it a bull or a moose?