Today in 1975, Aerosmith released the landmark album “Toys In The Attic.”
Turn on rock radio all these years later and you still hear songs from that album, like the title track, or “Sweet Emotion,” or “Walk This Way.”
That last song, by the way, got its inspiration from a place you might not expect for a classic rock standard: a Mel Brooks movie.
The band had been writing songs ahead of the sessions for “Toys In The Attic.”
Guitarist Joe Perry had been listening to a lot of R&B and funk groups.
In particular, he liked the Meters, out of New Orleans.
One night at soundcheck before a show, he came up with a riff that turned the whole song into a funky groove.
Perry brought the outline of the song to the recording studio, but turning it into a full song ended up being tough.
So they took a break: the other four guys in the band and producer Jack Douglas decided to head to the movies.
They went to see the new Mel Brooks movie “Young Frankenstein” starring Gene Wilder.
(Just think of how different rock history might be if Aerosmith had gone to see “Shampoo” instead!)
There’s a scene in “Young Frankenstein” where Wilder’s character arrives at the castle.
Igor, the servant played by Marty Feldman, turns to him and says, “walk this way,” as if he’s saying “come with me.”
Then, he hands Wilder his cane and insists that he walk hunched over, the same way Igor is walking.
When they got back to the studio they laughingly reenacted the scene for Perry.
Then Douglas, the producer, said, maybe “Walk This Way” would make a great title for the new song.
Singer Steven Tyler wrote some lyrics and they had a song on their hands.
“Walk This Way” would hit the top 40 twice, once in its original form, and again in the 80s when Perry and Tyler teamed up with rappers Run DMC.
To my knowledge Aerosmith hasn’t had any other Mel Brooks-inspired hits – but if their next album is called “Spaceballs,” well, don’t be too surprised.
Las Cruces, New Mexico is home to the first commercial spaceport.
And this weekend the community is hosting the Las Cruces Space Festival, with science exhibits, spaceport tours and free space movies like “Gravity” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
How Aerosmith Created ‘Walk This Way’ (Wall Street Journal via Archive.org)