Aerosmith & The 1980s

Aerosmith released its mammoth-selling Greatest Hits album in 1980 and in 1981 the band suffered another loss with the departure of Brad Whitford. After recording guitar parts for the song "Lightning Strikes", Whitford was replaced by Rick Dufay and the band recorded their seventh album Rock in a Hard Place in 1982. The album was considered a commercial failure, only going gold, and failing to produce a hit single. The tour for Rock in a Hard Place is notable for Steven Tyler collapsing onstage during a 1983 performance.

On Valentine's Day 1984, Perry and Whitford saw Aerosmith perform. They were officially re-inducted into the ranks of Aerosmith once more in April of that year. Steven Tyler recalls, "You should have felt the buzz the moment all five of us got together in the same room for the first time again. We all started laughin'—it was like the five years had never passed. We knew we'd made the right move."

Aerosmith embarked on a lucrative reunion tour entitled "Back in the Saddle" in 1984, which produced the live album Classics Live II. Their problems still not behind them, the group was signed to Geffen Records and began working on a comeback.

Despite the band signing on to a new record company, Columbia continued to reap the benefits of Aerosmith's comeback, releasing the live companion albums Classics Live I and II and the B-sides collection Gems throughout the 1980s.

1985 saw the release of Done with Mirrors, their first studio album with Geffen and their first album since the much-publicized reunion. While the album did receive some positive reviews, it tanked commercially, only going gold and failing to produce a hit single or generate much buzz outside the immediate confines of rock radio. The album's most notable track, "Let the Music Do the Talking," was in fact a cover of a song originally recorded by the Joe Perry Project and released on that band's album of the same name. Nevertheless, the band became a popular concert attraction once again. In 1986, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry appeared on Run D.M.C.'s massively successful cover of "Walk This Way", a track blending rock and roll and hip hop that not only cemented rap into the mainstream of American popular music, but also began Aerosmith's true comeback.

Still standing in the way, however, were the drug problems of the band members. In 1986, lead singer Steven Tyler completed a successful drug rehabilitation program, at the discretion of the band and manager Tim Collins, knowing that the band's future would not be bright if Tyler did not get treated. The rest of the band members completed drug rehab programs over the course of the next couple years. According to the band's tell-all autobiography, Collins pledged he could make the band the biggest band in the world by 1990 if they all completed drug rehab. Their next album was make-it-or-break-it due to the commercial disappointment of Done With Mirrors, and as the band members became clean, they worked hard to make their comeback album.

Permanent Vacation was released in August of 1987. Permanent Vacation was a major hit for the band, becoming their bestselling album in over a decade (selling 5 million copies in the U.S.), and having all three singles ("Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", "Rag Doll", and "Angel") reach the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. The group went on a subsequent tour with Guns N' Roses, which was intense at times due to Aerosmith's new struggle to stay clean amidst GN'Rs well-publicized, rampant drug use.

Their next album was received even better. Pump, released in October of 1989, featured three Top Ten singles: "Janie's Got a Gun", "What it Takes", and "Love in an Elevator", as well as "The Other Side", reestablishing Aerosmith as a serious musical force. Pump was a critical and commercial success, selling 7 million copies, and earning the band their first Grammy win ever, for "Janie's Got a Gun". The recording process for Pump was documented in the video the The Making of Pump, which has since been re-released as a DVD. Despite certain elements of their sound and style being fashioned at this time with the hair metal genre, the band was able to maintain their own musical innovation and gritty style and outlast and outsell almost every other rock act.