Steven Tyler is a persuasive dude.
In 1975, when the Aerosmith singer was 27, he shacked up with a 16-year-old groupie, Julia Holcomb, and convinced the girl’s mother to sign over guardianship to him.
“He had mentioned that he wanted guardianship papers so I could travel across state lines when he was on tour,” Holcomb wrote in 2011 on LifeSiteNews.com. “I told him my mother would not sign me over to him. I asked him how he had got her to do it. He said, “I told her I needed them for you to enroll in school.”
The teen became pregnant after Tyler threw her birth control off the balcony of a hotel room. While he was traveling the country and playing concerts, the couple’s apartment caught fire with Holcomb, then five months along, inside. Choking on smoke, she crawled to the door – which, she wrote, had three locks on it. “Steven insisted on keeping these locked at all times because he usually kept drugs in the house and he had suffered a break-in at our previous apartment.”
Unsure how she got out, Holcomb recalled waking up in the hospital. Doctors had told her the baby seemed fine, but Tyler “told me that I needed to have an abortion because of the smoke damage to my lungs and the oxygen deprivation I had suffered,” she wrote.
Holcomb said she did not want to abort the pregnancy, but “I began to feel like life was caving in on me. I had no health insurance or money and did not believe Steven intended to help provide for our baby or me. He had not been providing medical care for me up to that time. “
After the procedure, “When the nurse would leave the room [Tyler] was snorting cocaine on the table beside my bed. “
The two broke up in 1977, but it would be six more years before Tyler went to rehab for his addictions – the first of at least nine times the singer has tried to get clean. It was announced Tuesday that Tyler, 74, recently “voluntarily” checked himself into rehab once again.
A statement from Aerosmith revealed that Tyler relapsed on pain meds to deal with foot surgery for a painful injury from decades of high-flying performances.
In his 2004 autobiography “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?” Tyler writes about how he began abusing substances around the age of 16. He was so into drugs that he’d set his alarm clock for 4 am, drop acid, fall back to sleep and then be tripping two hours later when he started his day .
As his band found success, things only got wilder. He told Rolling Stone about riding a roller coaster with Jimi Hendrix as they both amplified the experience by doing poppers – chemical inhalants containing amyl nitrite which provide quick rushes of euphoria.
Fame only drove Tyler to chase highs more: “You hear your record on the radio and get caught up in the wow-ness of it all; you do a little blow, ”he said. “And some beautiful girl and her girlfriend decide to enjoy each other as they whip out a needle, and you try shooting coke as you’re getting blown.”
But snorting stuff was fine with Tyler as well. Just to keep things fun, he wrote, the band and crew would spell out each person’s name in chopped-up blow, then sniff up their personalized batches (considering that Tyler’s real last name is Tallarico, he’d get plenty). Publicly, Tyler was unabashed about his proclivities. Early in his career, before the band cruised on private jets, the singer would do his coke off airplane tray tables.
“I’ll tell you what’s fun,” Tyler told the Guardian in 2015. “Finding the right stewardess and turning her upside down in the back of the plane.” Other in-flight activity involved his ex-girlfriend, singer and one-time Playboy model Bebe Buell. As Tyler wrote in his memoir, he once had “Bebe draw a W on each of my ass cheeks… so [if drug-enforcement agents] checked me and asked me to bend over, it would read ‘WOW’ in any language. “
Buell secretly had a daughter – the actress Liv Tyler – with the Aerosmith singer, but kept the girl from him for years because of his addictions. Liv, who grew up thinking singer Todd Rundgren was her dad, first met her father when she was 9 or 10 years old.
During the haywire 1970s, Tyler found a kindred spirit in the hard-partying John Belushi. Tyler once recalled being in a cab with the “Saturday Night Live” star: When the driver asked where they wanted to go, Belushi shouted back, “Cocaine!” The two found it at Studio 54.
So deep was Tyler’s addiction to blow that he couldn’t even get himself straight to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” before a 2004 Red Sox game in his hometown of Boston. As he wrote in his memoir, he was “high as a kite” as the local National Guard flew F-16 jets overhead and “the words were melting like candle wax against the blue sky.”
Heroin was less of a party drug for Tyler: “I was never a fan of shooting heroin,” he wrote. “I did it once in my vein. Mostly I shot it in my ass. ”
Displaying little pride in the midst of druggy desperation, the singer’s need for substances earned him the nickname Spider. Resembling an arachnid, he wrote, “I would crawl on the floor looking for a piece of freebase [a precursor to crack cocaine] that I thought I’d dropped but probably already smoked. I was always looking for things that weren’t there. “
But the party has not come cheaply. Besides a physical toll – Tyler once lost consciousness during a performance, and no less than the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia deemed Aerosmith the druggiest band in the business – there has been a financial one. Tyler once estimated that he’d blown some $ 6 million on cocaine in his lifetime, and that does not include what he spent on substances such as heroin, weed and methamphetamine.
A notorious groupie magnet, Tyler has admitted that drugs trumped sex most of the time. When a TMZ reporter asked how many women he’d slept with, Tyler demurred and said, “I was too busy getting high.”