As one old man feud ends, another takes its place. Aerosmith is currently in a messy fight over who gets to perform at several Grammy events this weekend. Joey Kramer, who has been the drummer for Aerosmith since the beginning, naturally assumed he’d be present. But Aerosmith doesn’t think Joey is ready to return after Joey’s temporary disability, and they decided to replace him. Joey says he’s all better now, and he’s really not happy that everyone will be jamming out to Aeorsmith (minus their original drummer) this weekend.
Aerosmith will perform at the Grammys on Sunday, and tomorrow night, they’ll be honored as the 2020 MusiCares Person of the Year. MusiCares is a charity in association with the Recording Academy (aka the people who give out the Grammy Awards) that honors someone who displays both artistic achievement and a dedication to philanthropy. But according to Joey, Aerosmith hasn’t been charitable to him ever since he suffered minor injuries last Spring.
TMZ says that Joey (in the middle above) has accused Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, and Brad Whitford, of icing him out right before their big Grammy weekend. Joey messed up his shoulder last year, and sat out of a few of Aerosmith’s Las Vegas residency show. When Joey had heart surgery in 2014, he returned after a brief hiatus and all was good. That wasn’t the case this time around. According to documents, Joey tried to return to work last Fall, but Aerosmith required him to take a mandatory drum test. Yes, I said drum, not drug. How times have changed. Aerosmith claimed they wanted to make sure Joey was performing as well as he was before his injury. But Joey saw it as being forced to audition for the band he’s played with for 50 years.
Joey didn’t like that, especially since other members of Aerosmith didn’t have to jump through the same hoops when they returned from an illness. The stress of having to audition made Joey’s health worse, and he was back in the hospital in November 2019. He paid out of pocket for a replacement drummer (which allegedly cost him $20,000 a week for performances and $10,000 a week for rehearsals). When he finally agreed to re-audition for the band, Aerosmith informed him he didn’t have enough energy in his audition, and said he’d be replaced for the Grammy-related performances.
Joey responded to that by suing Aerosmith. He claimed he was unfairly let go, and wanted a judge to demand Aerosmith let him back in the band for both the MusiCares and Grammy Awards performances. Joey gave this statement about it:
“Being prohibited from playing with a band that I have given 50 years of my life to supporting, is beyond devastating. This is not about money. I am being deprived of the opportunity to be recognized along with my peers, for our collective, lifetime contributions to the music industry. Neither the MusiCares’ Person of the Year Award nor the Grammys’ Lifetime Achievement honors can ever be repeated.
I hope our fans can understand that all I’m trying to do is get back to playing with the band that they love – and that’s Aerosmith with all five original members. The greatest magic and success of Aerosmith happens when all the band’s founding members are together in the house. To be removed from my rightful place on stage to celebrate our success – a success that acknowledges my own life’s work, is just plain wrong.”
Aerosmith shot back with their own statement:
“We would be doing a disservice to Joey, to ourselves and to our fans to have him play without adequate time to prepare and rehearse. Compounding this, he chose to file a lawsuit on the Friday night of the holiday weekend preceding the Grammys with total disregard for what is our limited window to prepare to perform these important events. Given his decisions he is unfortunately unable to perform but of course we have invited him to be with us for both the Grammys and our MusiCares honor. We are bonded together by much more than our time on stage.”
Sources say that Aerosmith tried for months to get Joey back in prime drumming shape, but he just couldn’t do it. Sources also say that Aerosmith gave Joey multiple opportunities to return to the group, but he always backed out. They imply that Joey’s main motivation for the lawsuit was that he wanted to appear on national TV this Sunday. Joey only has three days to drum up a Plan B. Rolling Stone says that a judge denied Joey’s breach of contract claims yesterday in court. The ruling states that there’s nothing in Aerosmith’s contract that stipulates what happens when a member returns from a disability leave.
Joey also says that Aerosmith has offered to let him join the band in all photo-ops for the MusiCares event and the Grammys, but it’s still hurtful that they won’t let him play. Aerosmith has been including pictures of Joey in all promotional materials for the MusiCares event and the 62nd Grammys. So to anyone unfamiliar with this story, it kind of looks like Joey will be performing.
— Aerosmith (@Aerosmith) January 8, 2020
It really seems like Aerosmith is doing everything to make sure that Joey doesn’t drum on Friday and Sunday night. And I’m sure it won’t be easy for Joey to watch those performances and see that he’s been replaced. I just can’t help but wonder if Joey will try to get back at his band by jumping into a convertible, getting a chest tattoo and a navel piercing, and then calling Steven from a payphone and threatening to jump backwards off a freeway bridge. Joey, no! With your bad shoulder, you shouldn’t be bungee jumping off anything.