Steven Tyler was born a wild card, not to mention a ham. Growing up in the Bronx, the Aerosmith frontman—then Steven Tallarico—did things like bringing home a nest of praying mantises, unleashing a swarm of them in his room. And as a teenage garage-band drummer, then singer, Tyler unashamedly worshipped The Rolling Stones, going so far as to impersonate Mick Jagger’s brother Chris, complete with phony Cockney accent, to impress some naïve kids in upstate New York. Of course, Tyler achieved global fame for doing a different kind of Jagger impersonation—as the frontman of Aerosmith, he and guitarist Joe Perry dubbed themselves the “Toxic Twins” in clear emulation of “Glimmer Twins” Mick and Keith Richards. And now that the latter has made the tell-all bio as mandatory for first-rank arena rockers with world-famous drug problems as recording crappy soundtrack ballads, it’s Tyler’s turn to ape his heroes once again.
Does The Noise In My Head Bother You? features plenty of sex and drugs, of course—after all, Aerosmith was the first rock group to mark its comeback by entering rehab. And some of those stories are entertaining. But for the most part, this is an emblematic celebrity-talks-into-a-tape-recorder book. Aided by early Rolling Stone vet David Dalton, Tyler indulges a wearying fondness for ALL CAPS and ellipses, mentions Run DMC exactly once, in passing, never mind that the group’s version of “Walk This Way” saved Aerosmith from the fate of all has-beens. He makes loads of corny Borscht Belt jokes: a former manager “had so much residue in his nostrils, he made it into Ripley’s Believe It or Snot!” He indulges in questionable comparisons: “The handles on the oars were thicker than Shaq at a urinal.” And he casually claims authorship of “Big Ten-Inch Record,” from 1975’s Toys In The Attic—a cover version of a Bull Moose Jackson record from 1948, the year Tyler was born. (Why didn’t Dalton catch this? Was he too busy counting his money?)
Tyler also mentions that he’s Italian a bunch of times, bitches about his bandmates and previous books about Aerosmith (including ones he participated in), and alternately castigates rumormongers and insists that we read between the lines of his book. But that book is full of perils-of-direct-transcription sentences such as, “When you’re in a band, fans are always giving you presents, yeah?”, so it’s hard to muster the effort for much digging.