AEROSMITH REFUSES TO ALLOW DRUMMER TO PLAY AT GRAMMYS – DRUMMER SUES
“Well, well, Lordie my God,
What do we got here?”
— Steven Tyler (1974)
This week, Cup of Joe leaves New York and heads up to Plymouth, Massachusetts, an easy 4-hour trip up I-95 North from our Manhattan office, and a little over 5 hours on I-90 East from Syracuse if it’s not snowing.
Plymouth is where Chris Raab, from Jackass, is from; home of Michael Sweet, lead vocalist and guitarist in Stryper; birthplace of Dave Farrell, bassist with Linkin Park; and, birthplace of John Bartlett, publisher of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.
Sadly, Plymouth is the location of the courthouse where the members of Boston-based band Aerosmith, together for 50 years, recently found themselves embroiled in a nasty lawsuit between each other. It was Aerosmith’s drummer, Joey Kramer, a Jewish kid from the Bronx, who came up with the mystical name, Aerosmith, which was simply a random word he made up, inspired by Harry Nilsson’s 1968 album “Aerial Ballet.”
And it was Joey Kramer who sued his 4 band-mates because they would not allow him to play with them in an upcoming gig — The band was set to be honored at the 2020 MusiCares Person of the Year event and had been scheduled to perform at the Grammys last weekend (Jan 26). Joey had taken a leave of absence because of medical issues, but his band would not allow him to play unless he re-auditioned. On January 17, Joey sued Aerosmith in an attempt to have a judge force the band to let him play at the Gala 7 days later, and at the Grammys, 9 days later.
Joey Kramer, 69; Steven Tyler, 71; Joe Perry, 69; Tom Hamilton, 68; and Brad Whitford, 67.
Testimony of Joey Kramer
Q: Why did you stop coming to rehearsals with the band in 2019?
A: Ever since I injured my foot last August and went through many hours of physical therapy to heal, not once did the band in its entirety offer to rehearse with me. That is a fact.
Q: So, the last time you had played with the band was July of 2019.
A: That’s right. But I was practicing on my own. And I sent the band a video of me playing along with some tracks.
Q: When did you feel ready to return to your duties with Aerosmith?
A: By the fall of 2019, I was feeling able to return to Aerosmith for the November-December run of the Residency. I announced my desire to return and formally made myself available to rehearse with the band and to attend the shows.
Q: But you didn’t return, did you.
A: No. I had health issues.
Q: Well, you were in rehab in November and December of 2019, right?
Q: And you left the rehab against the recommendation of your addiction counselor.
A: Yeah, but I was good to go, you know? The truth speaks for itself. I was sent the full rehearsal schedule on January 18th and flew to LA the next day to rehearse and have many texts and emails stating the band can’t wait for my return. That’s also a fact. When I showed up to rehearse, I was greeted by two security guards who prohibited me from entering.
Q: What was the band’s reaction when you announced that you were ready to play the Grammys?
A: My band-mates insisted, via their attorney, that I was not allowed to rejoin the band until I demonstrated that I was able to play at an appropriate level.
Q: And that didn’t seem reasonable to you?
A: No one ever had to do it before. The guys had their problems. This is how they treat me?
Q: You are going to receive compensation, right?
A: This lawsuit 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.
Q: The band invited you to be there for the photo-ops?
A: The band’s offer to allow me to participate in this week’s MusiCares and Grammy celebrations for red carpet photo ops only, is appreciated; however, with a fill-in drummer playing on stage at two events honoring our collective musical contributions, it is extremely hurtful to me. I am a professional musician who is eager to return to my rightful place with Aerosmith.
Q: Did you attend the audition that was requested?
A: Yeah, but my fellow band members voted not to allow me to rejoin.
Testimony of Aerosmith members Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton and Brad Whitford:
Q: In Aerosmith’s 50-year history, no other band member has ever been subjected to this scrutiny let alone be asked to audition for his own job. Is that accurate?
A: Yes. But Joey waited until the last moment to accept our invitation for him to play. We unfortunately had no time for necessary rehearsals during Grammys week. And he knows it.
Q: You do not believe that Joey has earned the right to be at the Grammys?
A: Of course we have invited Joey to be with us for both the Grammys and our MusiCares honor. We are bonded together by much more than our time on stage.
JOEY KRAMER’S CLOSING STATEMENT:
The greatest magic and success of Aerosmith happens when all the band’s founding members are together in the house. The band waited until January 15th to tell me that they weren’t letting me play at the awards ceremonies this week. I can hold my head high knowing that I did the right thing – to fight for my right to celebrate the band’s success that I have dedicated the better part of my life to helping build.
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’S CLOSING STATEMENT:
Joey Kramer is our brother; his wellbeing is of paramount importance to us. However he has not been emotionally and physically able to perform with the band, by his own admission, for the last 6 months. We have missed him and have encouraged him to rejoin us to play many times but apparently he has not felt ready to do so. We invited Kramer to join us for the Grammys and the MusiCares honor.
Joey has now waited until the last moment to accept our invitation, when we unfortunately have no time for necessary rehearsals during Grammys week. We would be doing a disservice to him, to ourselves and to our fans to have him play without adequate time to prepare and rehearse
This case presents a good-faith disagreement about whether it is in the band’s best interest to allow Joey to play with the band at shows that will be taking place in a few days. The dispute is, simply put: what is best for the band? Joey asks the court to find that there was a breach of contract. But the band’s contract mentions nothing about how to handle a situation as the one presented here. Then, the court is asked to find that the band acted in bad faith. But the testimony presented shows no bad faith. Given that Joey has not played with the band in six months and the dearth of available rehearsal time before the upcoming performances, Joey has not shown a realistic alternative course of action sufficient to protect the band’s business interests. Therefore, Joey’s request for an injunction – that the court direct the band to permit him to play at these upcoming events, is DENIED.
Joey did not perform at the prestigious events.
In response to the judge’s ruling, Kramer issued the following statement via his publicist: “Although I’m extremely disappointed by the Judge’s ruling today, I respect it. I knew filing a lawsuit was a bit of an uphill battle considering that the corporate documents don’t reference any process for a band member returning from an injury or illness. However, I want to thank my fans for the incredible outpouring of support and for sharing my goal of taking my place on stage as one of the five founding members of Aerosmith and continuing to play the music I love.”
You’re only as good as your last gig! See you next week.
Here is the case: file:///Users/joenohavicka/Downloads/Kramer-v-Vidaloo-Decision-2083cv52.pdf