Behind the Band Name: Aerosmith

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

They were the rowdiest, most debaucherous, and some of the hardest rocking musicians on the rock ’n’ roll scene in the 1970s. We’re, of course, talking about Aerosmith. The band’s early hits—“Sweet Emotion,” “Dream On,” and “Walk This Way”—helped Aerosmith become a household name, and the group’s later years were defined by their epic comeback after a relatively brief breakup. 

But where did it all start? And where in the world did the name “Aerosmith” come from? Look no further, because below we’ll jump into the story behind the band’s name.

How Aerosmith got its name.

Joey Kramer, a co-founder, and drummer for Aerosmith is widely credited as the mastermind behind the band name. As he recounts in his 2009 memoir, Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top, and in a 2019 interview with Ultimate Classic Rock Nights, the inspiration for Aerosmith came to Kramer in 1968. Just two years before the band officially formed, and while he was still in high school, Kramer was inspired by a Harry Nilsson album.

“I was listening to an album at the time, by Harry Nilsson, called Aerial Ballet. We were listening to this record and I started really getting off on the lyrics. We started kicking around this word ‘aerial,’ and ‘aerial’ eventually came into ‘aero’ – I don’t know how that happened,” Kramer recalled.

“And it was like Aeromind, Aerostar, Aero-this, Aero-that; and somebody said ’smith’—Aerosmith? Wow! And from then on it was all over my high school psychology books and my math books. The question was always, ‘What’s Aerosmith?’ And I would tell people, ‘When I leave high school I’m going to go have a rock ’n’ roll band, and that’s what it’s going to be called. And we’re going to be big and famous, and that’s the scoop.’ And they were all like, ‘Oh, that’s very nice, Joey.’”

Just look at Kramer and his Aerosmith dream now.

The formation and success of Aerosmith.

The band has its roots in a few earlier bands, as most bands ultimately do. For instance, Aerosmith’s lead singer Steven Tyler was initially part of a band called the Strangers in Yonkers, New York, in 1964. Around the same time, other Aerosmith band members Joe Perry and Tom Hamilton were attempting to make it big as Joe Perry’s Jam Band. 

After a move to Boston, a run-in with Kramer, and a chance concert, the founding members of Aerosmith came together in 1970. They even moved in together in a Boston house on Commonwealth Avenue. Shortly after, the band would also hire Ray Tabano to round out the founding members of Aerosmith. 

And as history shows, the coming together of these individuals was legendary. Aerosmith has accrued several Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum albums as well as four Grammy Awards, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and countless other accolades.

Overall, though, the band has not only inspired rock bands, but millions of fans around the world, to dream on.

Photo Credit: Katarina Benzova / ID PR

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