Foreigner’s Kelly Hansen: Steven Tyler Is Irreplaceable
Foreigner vocalist Kelly Hansen believes Aerosmith should not try to replace Steven Tyler with a new singer.
However, if the ’Smiths do find a new frontman, then they should consider touring under a different name, Hansen reckons.
Hansen’s standpoint might come as a surprise to some.
That’s because Hansen himself replaced a well-known vocalist in Foreigner, taking over the reins from Lou Gramm in 2005.
Speaking exclusively to Classic Rock’s Geoff Barton, Hansen and Foreigner guitarist/mainman Mick Jones had the following to say about the Aerosmith situation:
Barton: Thinking about a lot of the bands who came to prominence during the mid-70s… obviously Foreigner successfully replaced Lou Gramm. And Journey successfully replaced Steve Perry, on more than one occasion. But what about Aerosmith? Are there always new singers out there who can carry a band forward, or are there idiosyncratic frontmen like Steven Tyler who are, frankly, irreplaceable?
Hansen: I think it depends.
Jones: With us, the fact that Lou obviously had a lot of recognition and a great voice…
Barton: Lou defined that style of AOR singing along with Boston’s Brad Delp, didn’t he?
Jones: I think it’s more to do with personality. In the case of Aerosmith, it’s the charisma, the individuality. And Tyler has all those qualities – even more than the singing. I don’t think it would be too hard to find another Aerosmith singer but it would be very difficult to replace Tyler’s charisma. Although having said that, we did it with the album I did with Van Halen. [Jones produced 5150, which featured Sammy Hagar on vocals.]
Barton: You would’ve thought David Lee Roth was irreplaceable, wouldn’t you?
Hansen: What year was 5150?
Jones: That was 1986, 1987.
Hansen: As far as Aerosmith are concerned, Tyler has been a constant factor in that band for many decades. There’s never been a Tyler-less version of the band… until now, it seems. If Tyler had left Aerosmith in the mid-80s, like Roth did with Van Halen, then I think it would’ve been a lot easier to replace him. Aerosmith could have carried on without him, because Tyler might’ve been changeable like Roth. However, if someone stays in a band from the 60s, to the 70s, to the mid-80s, right up to the present day… then Tyler is one of those people who have cemented their role as the absolute focus of a band. There’s Tyler, there’s Mick Jagger, there’s Robert Plant. There’s not many of them, but they’re all branded entities now. Tyler is one of the very few singers at this point in time who have reached an iconic status where you can’t just make a blind decision to shunt them out of the way. It’s just not possible. Without Tyler, Aerosmith will be a different group. Perhaps it’ll be better to call it a different name.
* Foreigner’s new album, Can’t Slow Down, gets a European release through Ear Music on March 1.