“Walk This Way” is one of Aerosmith’s most well-known songs, and it peaked at number 46 on the Billboard charts in 2012. The song is on the band’s greatest hits compilation alongside the likes of “Dream On,” “Sweet Emotion,” and “Back in the Saddle.” The tune has quite an interesting backstory — from the riff instantly strummed during a soundcheck to the title’s inspiration.
Aerosmith’s lead guitarist Joe Perry talks ‘fooling around with riffs’
Back in Aerosmith’s early days, when the group was heavily into funk and soul, they flew to Honolulu to open for The Guess Who (“American Woman,” “These Eyes, “Sour Suite”). Joe Perry explained to The Wall Street Journal:
“During the soundcheck, I was fooling around with riffs and thinking about the Meters. I asked Joey to lay down something flat with a groove on the drums. The guitar riff to what would become “Walk This Way” just came off my hands.”
Perry came up with the famous riff in “Walk This Way” without even thinking about it — it came naturally from his hands, as if by divine intervention. Perry continued fooling around, coming up with a bridge and another riff. And, by the time the soundcheck was done, he had the basics of a song (at least concerning the music part).
Tyler explained that while Perry was playing, he hopped on the drums and just rattled off some nonsensical words for the time being. When it came time to put it all together — come up with lyrics and a title — the group struggled a bit. Perry noted that the group had a hard time coming up with lyrics back in the early days.
The night the band went to see ‘Young Frankenstein’ led to the song’s title, “Walk This Way”
The 1974 comedy-horror Young Frankenstein premiered in 1974 and starred Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, and Terry Garr. One night, the band chose to take a break from their work and go see the film in the theater. Perry shared:
“Steven, Joey, Tom [Hamilton], Brad [Whitford] and [producer] Jack [Douglas] went down to Times Square to see Mel Brooks’, Young Frankenstein…When the guys returned, they were throwing lines back and forth from the film. They were laughing about Marty Feldman greeting Gene Wilder at the door of the castle and telling him to follow him. “Walk this way,” he says, limping, giving his stick to Wilder so he can walk that way, too. While all this was going on, Jack stopped and said, “Hey, ‘walk this way’ might be a great title for the song.” We agreed. But we still needed lyrics.”
Tyler eventually came up with the lyrics, after reportedly misplacing the first set of lyrics he jotted down, and the rest is history.
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