Well, if nothing else, Aerosmith won’t need to edit their pre-show documentary video.
Drummer Joey Kramer, an original member of the band, has returned to the stage after a drama-laden absence that wound up in court.
Kramer played the entire “Deuces Are Wild” show on Monday night, and is back in the band until further notice. Aerosmith reps did not issue a formal statement explaining his return. The move is seen as a gesture of goodwill among longtime friends.
Front man Steven Tyler called out Kramer’s return at the top of the show, shouting, “On drums! Mr. Joey Kramer!” This was a ceremonial nod to the moment, as the band intros usually are held until the end of the show.
Kramer, featured prominently in the 30-minute doc played for fans as they walk into Park Theater, is legendarily credited with originally suggesting Aerosmith as the band’s name. Nonetheless, he was off stage for about seven months from the “Deuces Are Wild” residency at Park Theater, dating to last July. It was originally reported he had stepped down in April, but the band has confirmed he did play through the summer dates, which ran June 19 to July 9.
Aerosmith reps had explained Kramer had suffered physical problems related to an injured ankle and enlisted sub drummer John Douglas to perform in his place. Douglas most recently performed Saturday night.
Tensions escalated three weeks ago when Kramer filed a lawsuit attempting to force the band to allow him to play during the Grammy Awards show on Jan. 26, which also was the weekend of the Grammys’ MusicCares event on Jan. 24. Kramer did show up onstage as the band accepted its MusicCares Person of the Year Award, but did not perform in the all-star concert at the event.
After the lawsuit was filed, the band issued a statement reading, in part, “Joey Kramer is our brother; his well-being is of paramount importance to us. However he has not been emotionally and physically able to perform with the band, by his own admission, for the last six months. We have missed him and have encouraged him to rejoin us to play many times but apparently he has not felt ready to do so.”
Kramer’s legal team actually released a somewhat sad video of a despondent Kramer attempting to enter the band’s Grammy rehearsals, only to be halted by security guards.
Kramer originally had filed the lawsuit in Plymouth (Massachusetts) Superior Court a week before the MusiCares event. As reported by the Boston Globe, the presiding judge’s ruling was that the drummer failed to prove his bandmates’ decision “breaches the covenant of good faith and fair dealing” implied in a band agreement that allows for a member who is “temporarily incapacitated” to be replaced, according to the decision.
The lawsuit indicated Kramer was forced to play along to a click track in rehearsals to effectively audition for his old spot, and the band actually voted to keep him off the stage. They also required the vanquished musician to pay Douglas’ performance fee.
“The fact that I would be asked to audition for my own job, demonstrate that I can play at ‘an appropriate level’ and play better than my temporary fill-in with a moving target of made-up standards is both insulting and upsetting,” Kramer said in a statement.
But even amid the legal wrangling, Aerosmith remains a tight-knit band. The 71-year-old Tyler and 69-year-old Kramer met in high school. Whatever musical differences arise usually are expected and accepted, as Tyler is a known perfectionist onstage.
Lost in the saga is that Douglas actually performed admirably as Kramer’s replacement — there was certainly no detectable drop in musicianship. Word now from the Aerosmith camp is that Kramer, as a founding member of Aerosmith, needs to return to form, recapture his previous energy and put this rock ‘n’ roll odyssey to rest.