America's Rock Band.

When you think of all the big, BIG Rock N' Roll bands of yore, who comes to mind? Well, The Beatles were essentially a pop band, but it just so happened that at the time, Rock N' Roll was what was popular. There's The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who, Cream ... all British rock bands. Black Sabbath and AC/DC, you're getting into more Heavy Metal type music, but again, that's Britain and Australia respectively. U2 is the biggest band on the planet and have been reigning since the very early 80s ... Irish.

Who are America's Rock bands?

It's hard to count any of the 60s bands because they comprise more psychadelic tendencies, which is just one aspect of Rock N' Roll. When you think of the aforementioned foreign rock bands, you think about deep blues traditions, taking their nods from the likes of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and the like. When you think of them, you think about the impact they've left; the decades of relevancy. If you're going to measure up to the Stones or Led Zeppelin or Sabbath, you better have the cohones to back up your status as America's Rock Band.

Well, we've got the Grateful Dead. They were around from the 60s through the 90s, continually touring; but they were mostly a fringe act, not household names. Come on, give me five of their songs right now, I dare you.

We have Creedence Clearwater Revival! They've probably dumped out more hits than any other American band in this catagory; and for three glorious years, they were the world's darlings. But, in-fighting did them in and now there's John Fogarty, Has Been and there's Creedence Clearwater Revisited, coming to a floating casino near you.

We have The Ramones, but they're dead now. We have Metallica, but I think you need more than 25 years and a handful of hits before you hit the top tier. Pearl Jam is still going strong, but I think you need more than a select rabid fan base to qualify. Alice Cooper, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Ted Nugent, The Doors, all fine outfits, but just not quite feeling them.

Really? You included the Nuge in that last sentence?

Now, with The Eagles I think we're getting closer. They managed to fill not one but TWO highly-selling Greatest Hits albums and did very well for themselves in the 70s and early 80s. Guess what, more in-fighting. With Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers we're even closer; they put out the greatest Greatest Hits album of any band ever. Where are they now? How have ol' Tom's last two albums fared in the rankings? OK then.

In the 60s, the Beach Boys were on par with the Beatles. Granted, most would consider them a pop group, but they played instruments (some of them), and they pushed the Beatles to new heights (along with Dylan and the introduction of the green devil). Pet Sounds is a sonic achievement one notch below Sgt. Pepper, which is widely considered the greatest rock album of all time. That being said, the Beach Boys faded into obscurity as Brian Wilson's mind slid further into insanity; they had part of a good decade and a whole lotta crap. Now, they probably play state fairs for free pumpkin pie.

That just leaves one obvious answer that didn't seem so obvious at the beginning of this article. That just leaves Aerosmith.


I've heaped shovels of crap on Aerosmith in recent years, for good reason. Their last studio effort consisted of 12 old blues covers no one gives two shits about. The album before that was more contrived than a presidential hopeful's personality. They've got more "Greatest Hits" albums than I've got pubic hairs, which just smacks of undeserved conceit. They haven't put anything out that's worthy of my dollar since 1993 and that song from the Armageddon soundtrack makes me want to punch Steven Tyler in the face over and over for choosing to sing such a sappy fucking love song.

That having been said, could America's Rock Band be anyone else? It's almost as if Aerosmith has won the title by default and will relinquish it in a decade to someone more deserving much like Barry Bonds will lose his Home Run King status to A-Rod.

Now, if Aerosmith's career disintegrated by the time 1980 came around and stayed that way, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I'd probably be telling you about Bon Jovi: America's Rock Band. But, you've gotta hand it to 'em, they cleaned up and made a rousing late-80s comeback that took them well into the 90s and still keeps people slightly interested whenever they do something today.

It all started in 1973 with their self-titled debut (or, if you want to get technical, in late 1970 when they decided to form a band). The song "Dream On" flirted with the charts and radio play. Slowly but surely through the next three years, they released three more albums, culminating with "Toys In The Attic" and "Rocks" - to this day their finest efforts - and they built a reputation as America's greatest touring rock band. As the audiences swelled, their albums sold, their coverage on radio broadened, and their status as Rolling Stones Lite was firmly instated.

Then, slowly but surely: the decline. Addictions to alcohol and "drugs" (I'm assuming cocaine, heroin, chocolate) brought them to their knees and their albums to the bottom of the charts. Finally, by 1980, Joe Perry - lead guitarist extraordinaire - quit the band, followed a little while later by rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford. Nevertheless, they prattled on in the early 80s doing the whole Has-Been Circuit until finally the final remnants of Aerosmith swirled down the drain.

But! They re-united in 1984, they got all the drugs out of their system, they started making music again, and by 1989 they firmly re-established their status as a top-tier rock band. The album "Pump" being their finest of the Geffen-era Aerosmith. And, even with all the outside help on the song-writing end of things, they've managed to do quite well. Constant touring is keeping them out of trouble and apparently a 15th album is in the works, to be released in the spring of next year (apparently with a cover of Deep Purple's "Highway Star" that I'm particularly excited about).

So, say what you will about Aerosmith The Has Beens, Aerosmith The Sell Outs, Aerosmith The Ballad Queens, they're still the biggest Rock N' Roll band we've got over here and that's gotta mean something. Why they weren't first-ballot Rock N' Roll Hall of Famers, I haven't clue one.

They may not be The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, or any of those other bands you think of when you think of Rock's Elite, but dammit, Aerosmith IS America's Rock Band, and I'll stand proudly behind that statement even after I'm done listening to one of their latest songs hock a shabbily-crafted American automobile