Revisiting Aerosmith’s Comeback on the ‘Done With Mirrors’ Tour
While 1987's Permanent Vacation is credited with re-igniting Aerosmith's career, Done With Mirrors, which was released two years prior, saw the reunited original lineup take their first steps back into the limelight. They began the tour on Aug. 23, 1985, two months before the record hit shelves, at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wis.
A year earlier, tensions had cooled between Steven Tyler and estranged guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford to welcome them back into the fold for the Back in the Saddle tour. Their well-documented drug problems more or less in the past -- Perry's rehab was successful but Tyler was still trying to quit -- the stretch of dates, which saw 58 shows spread out over two legs and six months, had some problems, but it was enough of a success for them to sign with Geffen Records and get a new start.
They went to work on Done With Mirrors, with production chores handled by Ted Templeman (Van Halen, the Doobie Brothers), and noticed the difference sobriety made. "I didn`t think you could have so much fun straight in the studio," Perry told the Sun-Sentinel at the time. "But it`s just a state of mind. It`s learning that you don`t have to be overwhelmingly loaded to create. We did some amazing studio things in the past when we were off-kilter, but you can still do those things straight."
The band hit the road to show off their rediscovered enthusiasm as well as to promote the LP. They wrapped up a year later, on Aug. 31, 1986, at Sullivan Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The band delivered on the tour, hitting highlights from the catalog as well as a few new tunes from Done With Mirrors. It proved a much stronger outing than the first reunion tour a year earlier. The drugs may have been written out of the story, but the attitude was still front and center. "We still have a jaded image and probably more so," said Perry, "we just don`t need chemical addictions anymore."
Done With Mirrors was released in November 1985 to mixed reviews and less-than triumphant sales. Although the album wasn't the huge hit it was hoped for, the shows were very well-attended, ranking among the highest-grossing tours of that year. Then. in July 1986, something would happen that would forever change Aerosmith's fortunes.
Rappers Run-D.M.C. had recorded their own take on the "Walk This Way," and brought in Tyler and Perry to guest on the track. They ended up with a huge hit on their hands, peaking on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 4 and ultimately making the song a bigger hit that the original version a decade earlier.
Between the success of the cover and their newly found sobriety, Aerosmith were ready for their biggest commercial triumphs yet. Permanent Vacation would mark the line between the ragged, outlaw rock and roll band and the highly stylized pop machine that enlisted outside writers and turned in more than a handful of power ballads. The band would become healthy physically and financially in the process, but were never quite the same again.
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