Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler will turn 70 on March 26, but the quintessential rock star shows no signs of slowing down. On Sunday, Tyler made news for his Kia Super Bowl commercial, where he turned back the hands of time to see his younger self. And the Sunday before, Tyler co-hosted a massive Grammy viewing party with Live Nation that raised $2.4 million for Janie’s Fund, a philanthropic organization he founded — inspired in part by the 1989 Aerosmith hit “Janie’s Got a Gun” — to help underage female victims of sex abuse.
As is his trademark, Tyler was remarkably forthcoming about his involvement with the girls, which includes direct meetings with them for hours at a time over the last few years.
“They know who I am and they can’t believe I’m there in front of them — that makes me cry, it’s very humbling,” he says. “I’m in a 12-step program, I got eight years sober again. I was sober in ’88, I fell off the wagon in 2004, but I’m sober again. I get a chance to speak with them.”
For Tyler, having such close interaction with the girls is not only gratifying, but he feels it’s a natural succession from being on stage. “Being a lead singer of a rock and roll band — it’s crucial because I love the attention,” Tyler reveals. “I love being a lead singer and I love being a rock star. … So when they say I can do this and be hands-on I think, ‘Well, I’m doing all that up on stage, what if I can be involved in this, but for real, real?’” Referring to his own financial hurdles as a member of a successful rock band that’s seen more than its share of lawsuits and money squabbles, Tyler adds: “I’ve not been sexually abused. [But] I’ve been raped by the music business and certain managers.”
The first Janie’s Fund event, held at Los Angeles’ Red Studios, featured a dinner menu curated by country superstar Trisha Yearwood, a live auction and a 45-minute set by Tyler that ranged from Aerosmith classics such as “Sweet Emotion,” “Walk This Way” and “Dream On,” to a cover of Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart” and guest appearances by Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt and Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer.
One of the guests on hand Grammy Sunday was fellow rock legend Alice Cooper, who spoke about the importance of giving back. “I think we get to a point where our name could be used in really good ways,” he says. “We spent enough time in our youth destroying, now it’s time to build back up. And of course, he has three daughters, I have two. So this comes into focus what we’re talking about here. And it’s one of those things, if you can use your name for the right reasons, great. We’re all out there touring and still making records, but if you’re a household name your name does mean something when it comes to raising money.”
Given the financial success of the event, Tyler plans to keep the event going annually similar to his friend Sir Elton John’s Oscar party. Also like John’s annual viewing party, which features other musical acts, Tyler wants his Grammy party to bring in some of the biggest names in music in future years.
“Pink, without a doubt,” he says is at the top of his wish list. “We’re good friends, I met her in the very beginning, brought her in my limousine to a gig that was four hours away and we wrote a song. Lorde, have mercy. I would have her. And I would ask friends, I’d see [about] Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Bruno Mars.”