meta-scriptSteven Tyler Op-Ed — Politicians: Respect And Protect Copyright |
Steven Tyler


Steven Tyler Op-Ed — Politicians: Respect And Protect Copyright

GRAMMY Creators Alliance co-founder calls for changes to outdated copyright laws that are hindering music creators

GRAMMYs/Oct 14, 2015 - 11:26 pm

(The following op-ed was originally published via the Huffington Post.)

This week, I sent a letter to Donald Trump's campaign asking to not use my music at political rallies. My intent was not to make a political statement, but to make one about the rights of my fellow music creators. But I've been singing this song for a while now.

In February, I became a founding member of the GRAMMY Creators Alliance. The Alliance joined many big names in the music business, not for ourselves, but for the up-and-coming songwriters and artists. To bring hope. To try and change laws that are hindering the music biz. To make sure that songwriters and artists can practice their art without threat of extinction. To make sure those who practice their craft get paid fairly when others use their work.

I'm not alone in my efforts to bring change. Today, more than 1,650 musicians and songwriters will be visiting their local Congress members in their home offices as part of our grassroots program, GRAMMYs In My District.

Big changes are happening right now in copyright reform as a result of massive technology changes and with the way fans pay for music and consume music. These changes can be a good thing for songwriters and up-and-coming artists, if we are paid fairly by those who make money using our work. Everyone deserves to be able to pay their bills, support their families, and do the work they love. Too many can't because we are being shortchanged by new and old technology companies.

Now, I don't blame all the new technologies, some are really cool. You can listen to music wherever you are, make up your own playlists, and hear what you want when you want. That's powerful, and at least they are paying creators something! The old technology companies do not pay artists; not one penny! And they are paying songwriters the minimum that the law says they should pay.

The laws need to change. We have so many laws in America that control how we get paid for our music. Seventy-five percent of songwriters' income in the U.S. is regulated by the government? Too much government intervention in art and music is a bad thing.

Just as my record label sister, Taylor Swift, wrote her letter to Apple in June, this is my open letter to everyone. We need change. Songwriters, producers and artists can't survive on what they are being paid.

I received a real lesson on this a couple years ago when I started to look into laws surrounding copyright. I found out that there was an effort underway in Washington to strip certain important approval rights of artists and songwriters for derivative use of their work. When I heard about this crazy idea, I submitted an official comment paper to the folks in Washington D.C., along with a few of my friends like Don Henley and Joe Walsh of the Eagles, Deadmau5, Britney, Dr. Dreand Sting explaining why this was a bad idea. It's not about Wall Street derivatives; it's about artists and songwriters losing control of their work and not getting paid fairly when it is used. More of the same, I thought. It taught me that creators have to be vigilant and fight for their rights.

After that, I took a trip to D.C. where I met with a lot of important Congress members to let them know that that any time artists and songwriters lose the right over how their music is used, it is devastating to them. Many of these Congress people I spoke to were shocked to learn that this really bothered musicians and songwriters and some even changed their views, all because we made the effort to let them know how we feel.

In D.C., I met with Congressman Bob Goodlatte from Virginia. This guy really gets it! His district in the Blue Ridge Mountains is home to some great songwriters and artists. He really believes that the laws need to change so that songwriters and artists are paid fairly, and he is doing something about it. Goodlatte has personally overseen 20 hearings on copyright reform over the past two years, creating a forum so that creators' voices can be heard.

On Wednesday, our voice will ring out again. Three hundred and fifty members of Congress will get a knock on their door from their music making constituents. They will be there to deliver a very clear message of themselves and creators all over America. It's time for change.

We know you love our music. Now is the time to show us some love by supporting the effort to reform outdated copyright laws, do away with government standard for artist compensation, and make sure creators are paid fairly when other businesses use our work.

(Steven Tyler is an American singer.songwriter and the frontman for the GRAMMY-winning band Aerosmith.)



Slash's New Blues Ball: How His Collaborations Album 'Orgy Of The Damned' Came Together

On his new album, 'Orgy Of The Damned,' Slash recruits several friends — from Aerosmith's Steven Tyler to Demi Lovato — to jam on blues classics. The rock legend details how the project was "an accumulation of stuff I've learned over the years."

GRAMMYs/May 17, 2024 - 06:56 pm

In the pantheon of rock guitar gods, Slash ranks high on the list of legends. Many fans have passionately discussed his work — but if you ask him how he views his evolution over the last four decades, he doesn't offer a detailed analysis.

"As a person, I live very much in the moment, not too far in the past and not very far in the future either," Slash asserts. "So it's hard for me to really look at everything I'm doing in the bigger scheme of things."

While his latest endeavor — his new studio album, Orgy Of The Damned — may seem different to many who know him as the shredding guitarist in Guns N' Roses, Slash's Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, and his four albums with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, it's a prime example of his living-in-the-moment ethos. And, perhaps most importantly to Slash, it goes back to what has always been at the heart of his playing: the blues.

Orgy Of The Damned strips back much of the heavier side of his playing for a 12-track homage to the songs and artists that have long inspired him. And he recruited several of his rock cohorts — the likes of AC/DC's Brian Johnson, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, Gary Clark Jr., Iggy Pop, Beth Hart, and Dorothy, among others — to jam on vintage blues tunes with him, from "Hoochie Coochie Man" to "Born Under A Bad Sign."

But don't be skeptical of his current venture — there's plenty of fire in these interpretations; they just have a different energy than his harder rocking material. The album also includes one new Slash original, the majestic instrumental "Metal Chestnut," a nice showcase for his tastefully melodic and expressive playing.

The initial seed for the project was planted with the guitarist's late '90s group Slash's Blues Ball, which jammed on genre classics. Those live, spontaneous collaborations appealed to him, so when he had a small open window to get something done recently, he jumped at the chance to finally make a full-on blues album.

Released May 17, Orgy Of The Damned serves as an authentic bridge from his musical roots to his many hard rock endeavors. It also sees a full-circle moment: two Blues Ball bandmates, bassist Johnny Griparic and keyboardist Teddy Andreadis, helped lay down the basic tracks. Further seizing on his blues exploration, Slash will be headlining his own touring blues festival called S.E.R.P.E.N.T. in July and August, with support acts including the Warren Haynes Band, Keb' Mo', ZZ Ward, and Eric Gales.

Part of what has kept Slash's career so intriguing is the diversity he embraces. While many heavy rockers stay in their lane, Slash has always traveled down other roads. And though most of his Orgy Of The Damned guests are more in his world, he's collaborated with the likes of Michael Jackson, Carole King and Ray Charles — further proof that he's one of rock's genre-bending greats.

Below, Slash discusses some of the most memorable collabs from Orgy Of The Damned, as well as from his wide-spanning career.

I was just listening to "Living For The City," which is my favorite track on the album.

Wow, that's awesome. That was the track that I knew was going to be the most left of center for the average person, but that was my favorite song when [Stevie Wonder's 1973 album] Innervisions came out when I was, like, 9 years old. I loved that song. This record's origins go back to a blues band that I put together back in the '90s.

Slash's Blues Ball.

Right. We used to play "Superstition," that Stevie Wonder song. I did not want to record that [for Orgy Of The Damned], but I still wanted to do a Stevie Wonder song. So it gave me the opportunity to do "Living For The City," which is probably the most complicated of all the songs to learn. I thought we did a pretty good job, and Tash [Neal] sang it great. I'm glad you dig it because you're probably the first person that's actually singled that song out.

With the Blues Ball, you performed Hoyt Axton's "The Pusher" and Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," and they surface here. Isn't it amazing it took this long to record a collection like this?

[Blues Ball] was a fun thrown-together thing that we did when I [was in, I] guess you call it, a transitional period. I'd left Guns N' Roses [in 1996], and it was right before I put together a second incarnation of Snakepit.

I'd been doing a lot of jamming with a lot of blues guys. I'd known Teddy [Andreadis] for a while and been jamming with him at The Baked Potato for years prior to this. So during this period, I got together with Ted and Johnny [Griparic], and we started with this Blues Ball thing. We started touring around the country with it, and then even made it to Europe. It was just fun.

Then Snakepit happened, and then Velvet Revolver. These were more or less serious bands that I was involved in. Blues Ball was really just for the fun of it, so it didn't really take precedence. But all these years later, I was on tour with Guns N' Roses, and we had a three-week break or whatever it was. I thought, I want to make that f—ing record now.

It had been stewing in the back of my mind subconsciously. So I called Teddy and Johnny, and I said, Hey, let's go in the studio and just put together a set and go and record it. We got an old set list from 1998, picked some songs from an app, picked some other songs that I've always wanted to do that I haven't gotten a chance to do.

Then I had the idea of getting Tash Neal involved, because this guy is just an amazing singer/guitar player that I had worked with in a blues thing a couple years prior to that. So we had the nucleus of this band.

Then I thought, Let's bring in a bunch of guest singers to do this. I don't want to try to do a traditional blues record, because I think that's going to just sound corny. So I definitely wanted this to be more eclectic than that, and more of, like, Slash's take on these certain songs, as opposed to it being, like, "blues." It was very off-the-cuff and very loose.

It's refreshing to hear Brian Johnson singing in his lower register on "Killing Floor" like he did in the '70s with Geordie, before he got into AC/DC. Were you expecting him to sound like that?

You know, I didn't know what he was gonna sing it like. He was so enthusiastic about doing a Howlin' Wolf cover.

I think he was one of the first calls that I made, and it was really encouraging the way that he reacted to the idea of the song. So I went to a studio in Florida. We'd already recorded all the music, and he just fell into it in that register.

I think he was more or less trying to keep it in the same feel and in the same sort of tone as the original, which was great. I always say this — because it happened for like two seconds, he sang a bit in the upper register — but it definitely sounded like AC/DC doing a cover of Howlin' Wolf. We're not AC/DC, but he felt more comfortable doing it in the register that Howlin' Wolf did. I just thought it sounded really great.

You chose to have Demi Lovato sing "Papa Was A Rolling Stone." Why did you pick her?

We used to do "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" back in Snakepit, actually, and Johnny played bass. We had this guy named Rod Jackson, who was the singer, and he was incredible. He did a great f—ing interpretation of the Temptations singing it.

When it came to doing it for this record, I wanted to have something different, and the idea of having a young girl's voice telling the story of talking to her mom to find out about her infamous late father, just made sense to me. And Demi was the first person that I thought of. She's got such a great, soulful voice, but it's also got a certain kind of youth to it.

When I told her about it, she reacted like Brian did: "Wow, I would love to do that." There's some deeper meaning about the song to her and her personal life or her experience. We went to the studio, and she just belted it out. It was a lot of fun to do it with her, with that kind of zeal.

You collaborate with Chris Stapleton on Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" by Peter Green. I'm assuming the original version of that song inspired "Double Talkin' Jive" by GN'R?

It did not, but now that you mention it, because of the classical interlude thing at the end... Is that what you're talking about? I never thought about it.

I mean the overall vibe of the song.

"Oh Well" was a song that I didn't hear until I was about 12 years old. It was on KMET, a local radio station in LA. I didn't even know there was a Fleetwood Mac before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. I always loved that song, and I think it probably had a big influence on me without me even really realizing it. So no, it didn't have a direct influence on "Double Talkin' Jive," but I get it now that you bring it up.

Was there something new that you learned in making this album? Were your collaborators surprised by their own performances?

I think Gary Clark is just this really f—ing wonderful guitar player. When I got "Crossroads," the idea originally was "Crossroads Blues," which is the original Robert Johnson version. And I called Gary and said, "Would you want to play with me on this thing?"

He and I only just met, so I didn't know what his response was going to be. But apparently, he was a big Guns N' Roses fan — I get the idea, anyway. We changed it to the Cream version just because I needed to have something that was a little bit more upbeat. So when we got together and played, we solo-ed it off each other.

When I listen back to it, his playing is just so f—ing smooth, natural, and tasty. There was a lot of that going on throughout the making of the whole record — acclimating to the song and to the feel of it, just in the moment.

I think that's all an accumulation of stuff that I've learned over the years. The record probably would be way different if I did it 20 years ago, so I don't know what that evolution is. But it does exist. The growth thing — God help us if you don't have it.

You've collaborated with a lot of people over the years — Michael Jackson, Carole King, Lemmy, B.B. King, Fergie. Were there any particular moments that were daunting or really challenging? And was there any collaboration that produced something you didn't expect?

All those are a great example of the growth thing, because that's how you really grow as a musician. Learning how to adapt to playing with other people, and playing with people who are better than you — that really helps you blossom as a player.

Playing with Carole King [in 1993] was a really educational experience because she taught me a lot about something that I thought that I did naturally, but she helped me to fine tune it, which was soloing within the context of the song. [It was] really just a couple of words that she said to me during this take that stuck with me. I can't remember exactly what they were, but it was something having to do with making room for the vocal. It was really in passing, but it was important knowledge.

The session that really was the hardest one that I ever did was [when] I was working with Ray Charles before he passed away. I played on his "God Bless America [Again]" record [on 2002's Ray Charles Sings for America], just doing my thing. It was no big deal. But he asked me to play some standards for the biopic on him [2004's Ray], and he thought that I could just sit in with his band playing all these Ray Charles standards.

That was something that they gave me the chord charts for, and it was over my head. It was all these chord changes. I wasn't familiar with the music, and most of it was either a jazz or bebop kind of a thing, and it wasn't my natural feel.

I remember taking the chord charts home, those kinds you get in a f—ing songbook. They're all kinds of versions of chords that wouldn't be the version that you would play.

That was one of those really tough sessions that I really learned when I got in over my head with something. But a lot of the other ones I fall into more naturally because I have a feel for it.

That's how those marriages happen in the first place — you have this common interest of a song, so you just feel comfortable doing it because it's in your wheelhouse, even though it's a different kind of music than what everybody's familiar with you doing. You find that you can play and be yourself in a lot of different styles. Some are a little bit challenging, but it's fun.

Are there any people you'd like to collaborate with? Or any styles of music you'd like to explore?

When you say styles, I don't really have a wish list for that. Things just happen. I was just working with this composer, Bear McCreary. We did a song on this epic record that's basically a soundtrack for this whole graphic novel thing, and the compositions are very intense. He's very particular about feel, and about the way each one of these parts has to be played, and so on. That was a little bit challenging. We're going to go do it live at some point coming up.

There's people that I would love to play with, but it's really not like that. It's just whatever opportunities present themselves. It's not like there's a lot of forethought as to who you get to play with, or seeking people out. Except for when you're doing a record where you have people come in and sing on your record, and you have to call them up and beg and plead — "Will you come and do this?"

But I always say Stevie Wonder. I think everybody would like to play with Stevie Wonder at some point.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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steven tyler aerosmith performing color 1993
Steven Tyler, Joey Kramer and Brad Whitford of Aerosmith in 1993

Photo: Gie Knaeps/Getty Images


10 Reasons Why 'Get A Grip' Is Aerosmith's Most Iconic Album

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, revisits 'Get A Grip' — the album which gave Aerosmith their biggest commercial success nearly 25 years into their rollercoaster career.

GRAMMYs/Apr 20, 2023 - 01:45 pm

Having conquered the 1970s with the seminal stadium rock albums Toys in the Attic and Rocks, Aerosmith  appeared to fall apart in the 1980s with a string of disappointing albums and various interpersonal dramas. But by the end of the decade, Run-D.M.C. collaboration "Walk This Way" and pop metal blockbusters Pump and Permanent Vacation had helped the Boston outfit to reclaim their crown as America's biggest band. The big question was whether they could sustain their unexpected second wind into the 1990s? 

1993's Get A Grip answered that with a resounding yes. In fact, Aerosmith's 11th studio effort proved to be their commercial zenith, racking up a career-best 20 million sales worldwide, spawning four top 40 singles and winning Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal GRAMMY Award for two consecutive years.  

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, here are 10 ways  Steven Tyler, guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer managed to build on their down-and-dirty legacy through Get A Grip.  

It Recognized The Band's Unique Selling Point 

In the four years since Aerosmith's previous album, the playful excesses of the hair metal scene had given way to the grunge movement's super-serious quest for authenticity. While the likes of Mötley Crue and Skid Row unwisely tried to beat Nirvana and Pearl Jam at their own game, Tyler and co. recognized that there was still an audience for pure rock 'n' roll.  

Indeed, Get A Grip entirely ignores everything else that was dominating the charts of 1993 and instead plays confidently to the band's strengths. The lyrics here are optimistic and often mischievous (see "I'd rather be OD'ing on the crack of her ass" on drug recovery tale "Fever"), and the maximalist production is designed to raise the roof. If rock fans needed a party record in 1993, there was only one candidate. 

It Foreshadowed The Country Crossover

From Bon Jovi and Shawn Michaels to Darius Rucker and Aaron Lewis, it sometimes appears as though every rocker of the late 20th century has pivoted into country music at some point or other. But seven years after they proved that guitars and hip-hop needn't be mutually exclusive, Aerosmith once again led the way with yet another crossover.  

The harmonica solos and twangy guitar riffs of "Cryin'" and "Crazy" sound tailor made for the Grand Ole Opry — the former was actually co-penned by Nashville native Taylor Rhodes. Tyler would later score a No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart with his 2016 solo debut, We're All Somebody from Somewhere

It Cemented Their Status As MTV Icons

Aerosmith became MTV favorites in the '80s thanks to eye-catching videos for "Dude Looks Like A Lady" and "Love In An Elevator." But would they still be as welcome in the '90s now that each member was well into their mid-40s? In a stroke of genius, the band acknowledged that they might need some younger faces to help sell their bombastic hard rock. Step forward the future star of seminal teen flick Clueless

A 16-year-old Alicia Silverstone appeared in three of Get A Grip's promos, first testing the limits of virtual reality in "Amazing," going on to play a bungee-jumping spurned lover in "Cryin'" and then teaming up with Tyler's daughter Liv in the Thelma and Louise-esque "Crazy." The concept paid dividends for all involved – Silverstone and the younger Tyler became instant pop culture icons, and Aerosmith continued to dominate MTV, even picking up Video of the Year at the network's annual VMAs.  

It Proved They Had A Social Conscience

You usually know what you're getting lyrically from an Aerosmith track –  they haven't earned a reputation as the masters of sleaze rock for nothing. But while Get A Grip still has plenty of sex, drugs (surprisingly of the anti-kind) and rock tales, it also showcased a more socially-conscious side to the former hellraisers.  

Inspired by the 1992 Los Angeles uprising following the death of Rodney King,, GRAMMY-winning first single "Livin' on the Edge" finds Tyler tackling everything from racism to religion as he pontificates over the state of the world. Admittedly, lines like "If Chicken Little tells you that the sky is falling/Even if it wasn't, would you still come crawling" weren’t exactly the height of insightful lyricism. But it reminded listeners the group could provide some substance to their hard-partying style.  

It Made Digital History 

While much has been made of David Bowie's pioneering use of the internet, he wasn't the only rock titan to embrace the online world early on. In 1994, Aerosmith once again proved that they could keep up with the times when they released the first digital download song by a major artist. 

Although "Head First" didn't appear on Get A Grip, it was recorded for the album and was first issued as a B-side to second single "Eat the Rich." Ten thousand CompuServe subscribers downloaded the four-megabyte WAV file within its first few days. With the world wide web still in infancy, it no doubt took a similar time frame to wait for its completion. 

It Elevated Their Power Ballad Credentials 

Aerosmith weren't exactly strangers to the power ballad when they released two of the early '90s' finest examples. Later sampled by Eminem, 1973's "Dream On" is considered by some to be the rock genre's first ever. And predecessors Permanent Vacation ("Angel") and Pump ("What It Takes") both spawned hits tailor-made for belting out in front of a mirror with hairbrush.  

But the double whammy of "Crazy" and "Cryin'" took the band's ability to pull at the heartstrings to another level. The former, of course, was also their first epic slowie to win a GRAMMY. And no doubt that Diane Warren was taking note; the GRAMMY winner later penned Aerosmith's only No. 1, Armageddon's suitably blockbuster love song "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing." 

It's Precision Tooled For Success 

Having previously experienced life in the rock wilderness, Aerosmith left nothing to chance for their first album in four years. Indeed, the majority of Get A Grip's 14 tracks feature a helping hand from a seasoned songwriter, from Jim Vallance (Bryan Adams) on the satirical "Eat the Rich" to Desmond Child (Bon Jovi) on the carnal rock of "Flesh" and Mark Hudson (Cher) on the funky "Gotta Love It." 

That's perhaps why the record spawned no fewer than seven singles, four of which made the top 40 ("Livin' on the Edge," "Cryin'," "Crazy," "Amazing") and why, with the exception of closing instrumental "Boogie Man" and brief "Walk This Way"-referencing "Intro," every other track was worthy of a release. 

Some Aerosmith purists may have balked at all the outside interference, but despite their blatant hit-chasing approach the band never lost sight of who they are. 

It Boasts Rock Royalty

As well as recruiting a who's who of professional songwriters to boost Get A Grip's hit-making potential, Aerosmith also invited two bona fide rock legends to give the record even more pizzazz. Listen closely to the backing vocals on the autobiographical stadium rock of "Amazing" and you'll hear the raspy tones of fellow '70s survivor Don Henley.  

Meanwhile, the ultra-cool Lenny Kravitz – then very much at his commercial peak – went one better. Not only did he lend his voice to the full-throttle blues-rock of "Line Up," he also helped Tyler and Perry write it. The "Are You Gonna Go My Way" singer later went on to support Aerosmith on their mid- '00s tour, Rockin' The Joint.  

It Contains Joe Perry's Best Lead Vocal 

With one of the most charismatic frontmen in rock history at their disposal, Aerosmith have wisely only allowed Perry to take center stage on a handful of occasions. The guitarist first grabbed the mic for himself on "Bright Light Fright," a track from 1977's Draw the Line but had to wait until Get A Grip to take the lead once again. 

Also penned solely by Perry, "Walk on Down" is the kind of driving back-to-basics rock that once saw the group hailed as the USA's answer to the Rolling Stones. But the vocals are far easier on the ear than whenever Keith Richards takes over from Mick Jagger.  

It Features The Group's Most Striking Cover

Aerosmith could never be accused of playing it safe with their cover art. Who can forget Nine Lives' controversial depiction of Lord Krishna throwing some shapes on the snake demon Kaliya's head? Or the slightly nightmarish caricatures of Draw the Line? But Get A Grip's close-up of a cow's pierced udder undoubtedly remains the band's most striking. 

Designed by metal favorite Hugh Syme (Iron Maiden's The X Factor, Def Leppard's Retro Active), the image divided audiences at the time, with music journalist Steven Hyden blasting it as the worst album cover ever, while various animal rights groups also took umbrage, too. According to the group, however, the offending image was entirely computer generated.  

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Franc Moody
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."


Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.


L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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