For most of the first half of the 1980s, the classic lineup of Aerosmith was down two members, as guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford departed for other projects. Then in February 1984, the lineup was back together again, and ready to begin a new chapter of their careers, one that would bring them back to the popularity they achieved during the 1970s.
The separation first began in July 1979, when Perry left Aerosmith following an heated argument between him and frontman Steven Tyler. As he went on to form the Joe Perry Project, Aerosmith replaced him with Jimmy Crespo and continued on. But then in 1981, Whitford departed to form the duo Whitford/St. Holmes with musician Derek St. Holmes. Taking his place was Rick Dufay, but the change in the lineup didn’t help Aerosmith’s fortunes.
In that period, the band released two studio albums (1979’s Night in the Ruts and 1982’s Rock in a Hard Place) that were both poorly received, and one compilation in 1980 (which would be the best performing album during that period, with eleven million copies sold by 2007). At the same time, both Perry and Whitford were also struggling with their projects, and after attending an Aerosmith performance at Boston’s Orpheum Theater, the two decided to reunite with the band.
The result would be a reunion tour, a new contract with Geffen Records, and a new studio album (1985’s Done With Mirrors). And although the band was becoming a huge concert draw once again, it wasn’t until Run-D.M.C.’s cover of “Walk this Way” (which featured Tyler and Perry), as well as the band kicking their drug habits, that the band would become the biggest throughout the late 1980s, and so on.