| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Steven, we love you. But you need to get sober, and we need to find a new singer.
That appears to be the consensus among Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler's bandmates, who are dropping loud hints that he is back on drugs.
The allegations, most recently from rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford and drummer Joey Kramer, ratchet up the unusually public feud crippling one of America's most successful rock 'n' roll bands.
Tensions have been simmering for some time, exacerbated by a troubled summer tour that was canceled in August when the 61-year-old Tyler fell off the stage and broke his shoulder.
The final straw came earlier this month, when Tyler's personal managers informed the rest of the band that he wants to take two years off to pursue various solo endeavors.
That did not sit well with the bandmates, who want to keep on touring and recording.
Perry, 59, has been especially vocal, both in interviews and on Twitter, about his differences with Tyler. He and his cohorts say Tyler has stopped communicating with them and they have decided to find a new frontman and continue without him.
They also worry about Tyler's state of mind.
"I suspect there's a lot more going on than we know about," Whitford, 57, told Reuters. "He has a well-documented history of drug abuse, and I find myself very suspicious. I haven't seen him do this or ... have any personal knowledge, but the isolation is very typical of addictive behavior, and his -- what I call -- irrational behavior."
Kramer, 59, in a separate interview, declined to get specific about any drug abuse, but said: "Steven has made some poor choices as of late, and he's got some bad influences around him, and I think that for the most part he's his own worst enemy ... I just really hope that Steven puts the focus on Steven and gets healthy."
Tyler's publicist said the singer is not commenting, because he is busy writing his memoirs.
The members of Aerosmith are no strangers to drugs, debauchery and divisions. The so-called "bad boys of Boston" first achieved fame in the early 1970s with such rock perennials as "Dream On" and "Walk this Way."
But the success was accompanied by their prodigious abuse of drugs and alcohol. The band careened toward oblivion by decade's end as sales dried up and both guitarists left.
They enjoyed a comeback in the '80s after getting sober. But, as with any workplace environment, tensions exist.
Whitford said he has had a "contentious relationship" with Tyler for many years.
"I just find him ... very difficult to talk to," he said. "Most people say, 'How's it going? Nice day.' And (with Tyler) it won't be, 'Yeah, it is a nice day.' All of a sudden, it's drama."
Kramer said he loves Tyler like a brother, but was hurt when the singer failed to respond to his recent voicemail and text messages. Perry has said that the last time he called Tyler, the singer hung up on him.
The band's lineup is rounded out by 57-year-old bassist Tom Hamilton who, the others say, is on the same page as them.
As for finding a new singer, the musicians are very careful to say that no one can fill Tyler's shoes. Nor has the recruitment process begun yet.
"None of us feels like we're in a position to just retire and go off and do something else," Whitford said. "It would be nice if we could find somebody so we can go out and continue to earn a living as some sort of derivative of Aerosmith."
He said it was possible that the band might hit the road under a different name, and acknowledged that there could be legal problems if Tyler sued to stop them from using the "Aerosmith" name. (Roger Waters unsuccessfully sued his Pink Floyd bandmates in the 1980s after they reunited without him.)
Kramer hopes to tour next year to mark the band's 40th anniversary, even if it could be a hollow celebration without the energetic Tyler belting out the hits from his scarf-draped microphone stand.
"What are we gonna do? Sit around for two years and do nothing?"
(Editing by Steve Gorman)