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The Emancipation of Steven Tyler

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Tyler gazes upward into the sunshine. "The sun's coming through storm clouds that have just come off of the ocean and rolled in from some fucking island called Kauai – that's Hawaii over there," he says, pointing vaguely toward the west. Tyler loves Hawaii, and just celebrated his birthday in Maui. "Todd Rundgren lived here way back, then went out to Hawaii, moved there with a couple of girls that were in love with each other. Smart man. I should have done the same thing." He laughs.

Doctors at one rehab (where he was working out his co-dependent relationships with the rest of the band, not any addiction) tried to stick him in a "sexual concerns" group. But he's convinced that his many liaisons – including the on-tour hookups that ended his most recent marriage – were merely the result of opportunities not available to other men. New Age author Marianne Williamson, a friend who helped him break his drug and alcohol dependencies, once told him, "What do they expect? You've been a rock star for 20 years."

"I had a choice not to," says Tyler. "I fucked up. But when you're tempted, if you're a bear and you're not supposed to eat honey, but everywhere you go there's bees, you're going to dip your tongue in! I'll tell you something, when I was in those 'sexual concerns' classes, and I'm next to a woman that had third-degree burns from vibrators and chairs and putting things in her vagina and guys that were in front of schoolyards, I'm in the wrong place! I want to be between three women, not chained to a fucking urinal at the Ramrod Room."

Priapic as he may be, Tyler is 63 years old, though he hates when journalists point that out. He doesn't think much about mortality. "I'm going to get up to heaven, and the gate's going to open, and God's going to go, 'You know what, I threw Beelzebub out while we were listening to one of your songs.'" But he does imagine, rather frequently, just how he might die. "I'm very vivid with my imagination – getting stabbed and pulling the arrow out, or I can picture my guts spewed, or more often than not, lately, it's in a bed with my children around me, as my mom passed, hoping they don't give me too much drugs where I'm like this" – he sticks his tongue out spastically. "I think I've been so lucky in my life that I'll probably die in my sleep, thank you, Lord Jesus."

We walk past an old bungalow, one of the few modest houses left in the neighborhood, where a bunch of small dogs are wildly barking behind a fence. Tyler approaches the house, and they bark even louder. A middle-aged blond woman in a pink bathrobe shuffles out of the house, looking frazzled, nearly terrified – she doesn't recognize Tyler.

"I'm just walking by, doing an interview, and I love your dogs," Tyler says, trying to calm her down. "I've got a Pomeranian at home."

She squints at him, leaning over the flowerpot on top of her fence. "What's your name?"

"I'm with a rock & roll band – Aerosmith," he says, moving closer. "Steven Tyler."

Her jaw drops, her eyes clear, and she starts talking. She's lived in Laurel Canyon for 35 years, and it turns out her husband was taken to the hospital with a heart attack last night. "I'm not worthy," she says. "I love your music. You're an angel. Seeing you right now – I feel like you were sent here today. I'm 61, but you look so much better."

Tyler's eyes are looking a little moist. He reaches out across the fence and grabs her hands. "Guess what," he says, "your husband is going to be fine."

She beams. "Well, I'm even going to watch American Idol now."

Tyler winces. Then he seems to speak without thinking: "No, don't watch that," he says, just loudly enough to be heard over the dogs, now jumping at his ankles. "Keep loving the music. Don't watch that."

Related
Steven Tyler: I Didn't Fall Off the Wagon
Steven Tyler, the Savior of 'American Idol'
'American Idol': Calm Before the Storm
Steven Tyler Says 'American Idol' Will Not Stop Aerosmith From Making New Music

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