After months of speculation, Steven Tyler has confirmed the upcoming release of his first country solo album.
The Aerosmith frontman made the announcement last night, during a surprise visit to the Grand Ole Opry. The Opry's lineup was stacked with country vets like Charlie Daniels and newer acts including Aaron Watson and Eric Paslay, but Tyler — decked out in a floor-length white coat that made him look like the world's coolest doctor —stole the show, walking onstage during Paslay's two-song acoustic set and delivering the news that many industry insiders knew already.
How did they know it? For years, Tyler has been playing up with country roots. He sang with Carrie Underwood on Aerosmith's Music from Another Dimension!, duetted with Brad Paisley during last year's CMA Country Christmas concert, sang background vocals on Jana Kramer's upcoming single and hit up Tootsie's Orchid Lounge — one of Nashville's oldest honky-tonks — for an unannounced blues jam with Keith Urban in 2013.
"I grew up in the woods of New Hampshire. . . I have more country in me than people think," he told Rolling Stone Country last year, singing a few lines of "Cryin'" to prove his point.
The final piece of evidence arrived last month, when American Idol aired a pre-taped clip highlighting the career of this season's mentor, Scott Borchetta. Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire and the Band Perry, all three of whom are signed to imprints of Borchetta's Big Machine label, made appearances during the segment to praise Borchetta's work. Tyler did the same. It didn't take much work to connect the dots, especially after rumors began circulating that Tyler had moved to Nashville and started co-writing with musicians such as Jaren Johnston, the country-rocker behind hits for McGraw, Urban and Eric Church. (Johnston's band, the Cadillac Three, is also signed with Big Machine.)
What about a title for Tyler's solo record? A release date? A producer? None of those details have been announced, and representatives from Big Machine aren't talking. For now, rest assured that Tyler is in the process of getting his country wings.