Steven Tyler is a convincing guy.
In 1975, when the Aerosmith singer was 27, he broke up with a 16-year-old groupie, Julia Holcomb, and convinced the girl’s mother to give him guardianship.
“He had mentioned that he wanted guardianship papers so I could travel across state lines during his tour,” Holcomb wrote on LifeSiteNews.com in 2011. “I told him my mother wouldn’t sign me for him. I asked him how he got her to do this. He said, “I told her I needed her so you could enroll in school.”
The teenager became pregnant after Tyler threw her birth control off a hotel room balcony. While touring around the country giving concerts, the couple’s home caught fire, and Holcomb, then five months later, inside. Choking on smoke, she crawled to the door – which, she wrote, had three locks. “Steven insisted on keeping it locked at all times because he usually kept drugs in the house and our previous apartment had been broken into.”
Unsure how she got out, Holcomb recalled waking up in the hospital. Doctors had told her the baby seemed fine, but Tyler “told me I needed an abortion because of the smoke damage to my lungs and the lack of oxygen I was experiencing,” she wrote.
Holcomb said she didn’t want to terminate the pregnancy, but “I started to feel like life was collapsing inside me. I had no health insurance or money and I didn’t think Steven intended to take care of our baby or me. Up to this point he had not given me any medical care.”
After the procedure “If the nurse would leave the room [Tyler] snorted cocaine on the table next to my bed.”
The two split in 1977, but it would be six more years before Tyler entered rehab for his addiction — the first of at least nine times the singer has attempted to get clean. It was announced on Tuesday that Tyler, 74, recently “voluntarily” checked himself back into rehab.
A statement from Aerosmith revealed Tyler went back on pain medication to attend to foot surgery for a painful injury from decades of high-flying performance.
In his 2004 autobiography, Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?, Tyler writes about how he began abusing substances at the age of 16. He was so into drugs that he set his alarm for 4 a.m., dropped LSD, fell asleep again, and tripped two hours later just as he was starting his day.
As his band found success, it only got wilder. He told Rolling Stone about a rollercoaster ride with Jimi Hendrix as they both enhanced the experience with poppers – chemical inhalants containing amyl nitrite that induce quick euphoria.
Fame only pushed Tyler to chase even more highs: “You hear your record on the radio and you get caught in the wow vibe; You do a little punch,” he said. “And a beautiful girl and her friend decide to amuse each other while pulling out a needle and you try to squirt coke while getting a blow job.”
But snorting was okay with Tyler, too. Just for fun, he wrote, the band and crew would spell out each person’s name in chopped-up catchphrases and then sniff out their personalized batches (considering Tyler’s real last name is Tallarico, he’d get plenty). In public, Tyler was unabashed about his inclinations. Earlier in his career, before the band cruised on private jets, the singer sipped his Cokes from plane 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 activities involved his former girlfriend, singer and former Playboy model Bebe Buell. As Tyler wrote in his memoir, he once had “Bebe draw a W on each of my ass cheeks… like this [if drug-enforcement agents] checked me and asked me to bend down, it would read ‘WOW’ in any language.”
Buell secretly had a daughter — actress Liv Tyler — with the Aerosmith singer, but kept the girl away from him for years because of his addiction. Liv, who grew up thinking singer Todd Rundgren was her father, first met her father when she was 9 or 10 years old.
In the blustery 1970s, Tyler found a kindred spirit in party-happy John Belushi. Tyler once recalled being in a cab with the “Saturday Night Live” star: When the driver asked where they were going, Belushi called back, “Cocaine!” The two found it at Studio 54.
Tyler’s addiction to blowing ran so deep that he couldn’t even bring himself 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” when local National Guard F-16 jets flew overhead and “the words melted like candle wax against a blue sky.”
Heroin was less of a party drug for Tyler: “I’ve never been a fan of shooting heroin,” he wrote. “I did it once in my vein. Most of the time I shot it in the ass.”
The singer, who showed little pride amid his despair, earned him the nickname Spider. Similar to an arachnid, he wrote: “I would crawl on the ground and look for a piece of freebase [a precursor to crack cocaine] that I thought I had fallen, but probably already smoked. I was always looking for things that weren’t there.”
But the party didn’t come cheap. Aside from a physical toll—Tyler once passed out during a performance, and The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia believed Aerosmith to be the most drug-heavy band in the business—there was a financial one. Tyler once estimated that he blew about $6 million on cocaine in his lifetime, and that doesn’t include what he’s spent on substances like heroin, weed, and methamphetamine.
Tyler, a notorious groupie magnet, has admitted that drugs trump sex most of the time. When a TMZ reporter asked how many women he’d slept with, Tyler hesitated, saying, “I was too busy getting high.”