Aerosmith: Livin' on the Edge

After 40 tumultuous years together, Aerosmith is one of the last great American rock bands standing. Despite years of infighting and drug use, the band is still filling stadiums.

Hamilton has survived throat cancer, Kramer a nervous breakdown, all five of them severe drug and alcohol abuse. They told us they're all clean now, but Steven Tyler's health remains an ongoing threat to the band's existence. He's battled Hepatitis C, torn his ACL and had surgery on his vocal chords and both his feet.

Tyler: My feet from dancin' around.

Logan: You're getting old.

Tyler: Yeah. Yes, I am. Thanks for pointing that out.

At this concert in Sturgis, South Dakota in 2009, Tyler was once again addicted--this time to prescription painkillers his doctors gave him for his feet. He fell off the stage and nearly broke his neck. The tour was cancelled and triggered a series of events that caused the future of Aerosmith to spiral out of control.

Logan: Were you angry with Steven when he fell off the stage?

Joe Perry: To be honest, I was expecting it. I mean he wasn't in good shape. Yeah, I was pretty pissed off at that point, you know, that it-- he let himself get that far.

Logan: And that he was doing drugs again?

Perry: Yeah.

Steven Tyler had a broken shoulder and 20 stitches in his head. Brad Whitford admits that he and his band mates purposely didn't check on him for weeks.

Brad Whitford: Everybody's life dramatically changed in an instant because he was, in my mind, irresponsible. And I was very angry at him.

Logan: Do you see why they were mad at you?

Tyler: Oh, positively. Not quite to the extent of not calling me for 27 weeks.

Logan: So were you high? Were you using again?

Tyler: Oh yeah. Oh, I was.

Logan: And that's why you fell?

Tyler: I was-- but wouldn't you think, after 40 years, the guys would come around go, "Look it-- I'm pissed off at you. But did you break your neck? You alright?"

I was hurt by that. And I went away to get well and I came back a sober and better person while two of them were still high.

While Tyler was recovering, he found out the band was looking for a new lead singer. That was when American Idol asked him to be a judge.

Logan: Why did you decide to do American Idol? Why did you want to do that?

Tyler: I was pissed off at the band for trying to find some other lead singer. I wasn't sure if I wanted to stay with the band because of their behaviors.

[Tyler on American Idol: Just the right amount showing. That's nice.]

Steven Tyler's decision turned out to be yet another point of contention. The others were upset that he never consulted with them but Tyler was embraced by the American Idol audience and Aerosmith album sales soared.

Logan: Aerosmith doesn't just have its old fans. It has a whole generation of new fans today. Is that in part because of Steven's, you know, presence on Idol and the prominence and celebrity that that's generated for not just him but also for the band?

Perry: I mean, there's no denying American Idol's a part of it but he wouldn't be on that show if it wasn't for the band, you know-- him being part of Aerosmith.

Tension and drama have always been part of Aerosmith. They formed in 1970 and cut their teeth playing clubs and high schools around Boston. Within five years they were selling every ticket they could print, peaking in 1978 when they headlined sold out football stadiums across America.