Anyone familiar with Aerosmith history knows Brad Whitford is one of the most selfless, magnanimous and, as a result, underrated guitar heroes in classic rock history. While fellow guitar slinger Joe Perry paired with Aerosmith mouthpiece Steven Tyler to hog the spotlight like a sequel to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Whitford seemed content to accept a secondary role from the very start. All this even though most experts and keen-eared fans believe Whitford to be the superior instrumentalist, if not quite as prolific a songwriter as Perry. In any case, classic rock fans know perfectly well there’d be no Aerosmith without Mr. Whitford (nor his partners in the trenches, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer), so join us as we celebrate the Top 10 Brad Whitford Aerosmith Songs.
"Shela"From: ‘Done with Mirrors’ (1985)
That vital role played by each member of Aerosmith was put to the test when the original fivesome reconvened for 1985’s Done With Mirrors,’ following a brief guitar player mutiny. And, while complete career rehabilitation would have to wait a couple more years, songs like second single "Shela," built around a Brad Whitford lick and solo, helped launch Aerosmith’s comeback.
"The Hand That Feeds"From: ‘Draw the Line’ (1977)
Years earlier, Whitford was picking up the slack for ailing bandmates Tyler and Perry (as they wrestled with their drug addictions) with vital songwriting contributions like "The Hand That Feeds." An underrated nugget from the troubled Draw the Line LP, it likewise failed to earn proper recognition when first released, but now will get is due as the next entry in our list of Top 10 Brad Whitford Aerosmith Songs.
"Seasons of Wither"From: ‘Get Your Wings’ (1974)
As we turn the clock back even further, we see that Whitford had yet to start writing songs for Aerosmith when the band’s sophomore album, Get Your Wings, was released. But Brad was already putting his Berklee College of Music degree to good use by contributing many a memorable guitar solo, including the brief but oh-so-tasteful sustained feedback that brings Tylers gorgeous "Seasons of Wither" to an end.
"Permanent Vacation'"From ‘Permanent Vacation’ (1987)
As we alluded to earlier, 1987’s Permanent Vacation signaled Aerosmith’s belated but triumphant return to the hard rock big leagues — even if that meant smothering many of its songs with hair metal makeup and those unbearably glossy ‘80s production standards. Not so its cliche-busting title track, though, which escaped briefly to the Caribbean sun and was written by — you guessed it, Brad Whitford.
"Krawitham"From: ‘Pandora’s Box’ (1991)
This instrumental rarity from the Pandora’s Box collection dates back to the 1977 Draw the Line sessions, and arose from a three-man jam between Whitford, Hamilton and Kramer — all of whom had grown tired of sitting around waiting for the Toxic Twins to make an appearance and get to work. As a result, "Krawitham" became a one-of-a-kind glimpse into Aerosmith as power trio, not to mention Brad Whitford’s considerable guitar talents in solo flight.
"Voodoo Medicine Man"From: ‘Pump’ (1989)
By comparison, Aerosmith were once again operating in unified cohesion by 1989’s comeback masterpiece, Pump, which boasted such a deep selection of great tunes that even the cosmetic excesses slathered all over Permanent Vacation were confidently abandoned. For his part, Brad Whitford came to the table with the memorable "Voodoo Medicine Man" — another Caribbean detour, ironically enough, only this time emanating darker vibes that were the polar opposite of its sunnier counterpart.
"Kings and Queens"From: ‘Draw the Line’ (1977)
The next choice in our list of Top Ten Brad Whitford Aerosmith Songs is actually a full band co-write, but one that was greatly distinguished by lead guitar work, courtesy of Whitford. On record, "Kings and Queens" took Aerosmith into rather unfamiliar historical commentary (Tyler later saying he was inspired by centuries of religious and political crusades), but onstage it became a nightly showcase for the retiring Whitford to finally taste the spotlight for a moment.
"Round and Round"From 'Toys in the Attic' (1975)
Here now is Brad Whitford’s first official songwriting credit on behalf of Aerosmith, and it may well be the heaviest song in the band’s entire discography. Sludge-caked, doom-laden, almost a dirge really, "Round and Round" is often overlooked amid the countless classics found on the Toys in the Attic LP but we won’t make the same mistake here. The song’s hypnotic grind and well timed stabs of ear-splitting melodies simply won’t let us.
"Last Child"From: ‘Rocks’ (1976)
If Brad Whitford has a signature tune, "Last Child" may well be it. Prominently sequenced in second place on the seminal Rocks and then issued as the album’s first single, "Last Child" bucked Aerosmith’s conventional hard rock template in exchange for a supremely funky, down-home glimpse into the band’s bluesiest musical roots. All of which only helped the song earn a firm standing as a staple of classic rock radio and a fixture of virtually every Aerosmith concert to this day.
"Nobody's Fault"From: ‘Rocks’ (1976)
And in a photo-finish, the number one spot in our countdown of the Top Ten Brad Whitford Aerosmith Songs goes to another unforgettable Rocks highlight, "Nobody’s Fault" — if only because it happens to be one of the great man’s personal, all-time favorites. Oh, and Slash’s … and James Hetfield's … even Kurt Cobain’s, and we didn't think he liked anything! Most importantly, though, "Nobody’s Fault," while anything but a mainstream hit, has always been a cult favorite for many a discerning Aerosmith fan — just as Whitford tends to be instead of the equally deserving, but far more visible Perry. On "Nobody’s Fault," Whitford’s rhythm and lead guitar skills clearly rise to the top.