At first, Chris Robinson didn’t exactly win the guys in Aerosmith over. Not after seizing the chance to charge Steven Tyler with using backing tapes while on tour with Rolling Stone Magazine.
However, before that, The Black Crowes have always had a strong foundation in the finest aspects of classic rock & roll. The sounds of vintage rock and blues were merged with the band’s distinctive swagger by the Robinson brothers, who always wore their influences proudly on their sleeves. One of the many idols they had was Aerosmith.
On their first few songs, The Black Crowes appeared to be following in the footsteps of their heroes. This was the kind of rootsy rock & roll that could appeal to both the alternative kids and the cool uncles who had grown up on acts like Aerosmith, even though songs like “Hard to Handle” and “She Speaks to Angels” would not have fit in with the grunge movement at the time.
Things came to a turn when Robinson noticed how things were done behind the scene on the stage. Between performances, Robinson observed Steven Tyler utilizing some sampled vocals onstage, which bothered him. Robinson said in early 1991,
“If you’re an entertainer and you take it seriously, you entertain with your natural abilities. You go onstage and take a chance like everyone else. People say to us, ‘Man, I heard some bad notes in your set tonight.’ Well, fucking-A right you heard some bad notes. You saw a real band tonight, didn’t you?”
He, later on, said, “We went on tour with them and I was still a kid, and I was shocked that they used tapes for Steven Tyler’s vocals. Not the whole thing, but you know, that people back then were using tapes. Robert Plant was doing it. I brought it up in my first Rolling Stone interview and got nasty messages from everyone involved! ‘What are you doing, kid?’ I was like, ‘Oh, sorry!’ I just was shocked that that’s how this went down.”
A few months later, Chris Robinson’s younger brother and fellow Black Crowe’s Rich defended him which led to a happy ending. Rich told Rolling Stone, “All Chris said is, he’s disappointed because great bands he’s loved all his life were made to resort to using tapes in concert and it bums him out because he feels they’re better than that. It didn’t come off sounding that way, but it disappointed him and made him look at the world and think, ‘Man, things are fucked up; the music industry is just for shit.'”
Robinson was able to resolve his issues with the Aerosmith crew swiftly thanks to a chance encounter with Joe Perry in an elevator. Perry even requested Robinson to contribute vocals to one of his solo albums since they got along so well. Robinson once said, “I hadn’t seen Joe in a while, but I got a call and he was doing these songs. He sent over this song and it only took me about 20 minutes to complete it – because it’s like, oh yeah, I know this! This is fun!”