For me, Aerosmith has always been Joey Kramer, Brad Whitford and Tom Hamilton. I know Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are the American equivalent of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the onstage foil of mayhem and sexuality and the main songwriters. For me, however, it’s always been Whitford’s songs I like best, while Hamilton’s bass playing t rumbles through my nethers and Kramer’s drumming, especially live, cements the realization that the man behind Aerosmith’s drum kit was, for all intents and purposes, the rock solid center of the band.
That’s why I was tickled pink (to use a song title from this great band) with Kramer’s autobiography Hit Hard: A Story Of Hitting Rock Bottom At The Top. Written with William Patrick and Keith Garde, Kramer’s account of his life is, at times, harrowing, hilarious and inspiring (even Nikki Sixx says so in the forward and if anybody knows about a harrowing life, it’s Nikki Sixx!).
As Kramer tells us at the beginning of this near 250-page book, this is not an account of the rise and fall of Aerosmith; there have been tons of books written about that. Nor is this really a musician’s tale, other than the fact that Kramer makes his living as a rock and roll drummer.
This is about Kramer’s rise and fall and rise again through the self-discovery of the demons that bit at his heels and the emotions he had because of them. Yes, there was drug abuse, car wrecks and failed relationships, but as with most things that affect us deeply, Kramer’s problems and his inability to deal with them came from his childhood and increased over time.
Joey Kramer is very forthcoming, as any book of this type would need to be to be both entertaining and compelling. But less he wallow in what happened to him, Kramer makes it a point that he has come out of where he was, why he came out of it and what he does every day to stay where he is — the fight we all have to fight — to be a better man, father, husband and yes, even band mate. That’s really the part of the book that rings most clearly, that Kramer fights every day to be who he is (as we all should); that our identities, flawed though they all are, are what makes us who we are, and are so worth chiseling out and fighting for.
This is not a rock and roll tell-all autobiography. Look elsewhere for the tale of this band or a drummer’s drumming life. Hit Hard: A Story Of Hitting Rock Bottom At The Top is a solid and fast read about one man’s discoveries and how we might be bolstered to find our own by reading his account.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.