Steven Tyler, Joe Walsh Discuss Temptation to Return to Drinking
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Eagles' Joe Walsh frankly discussed the temptation they felt to return to drink and drugs, even though both have achieved a strong level of control over their desires.
Tyler has been sober for a little more than nine years, after four attempts, while Walsh hasn’t had a drink in 25 years. In a new GQ interview, which also includes comments from other musicians, they recalled the best and worst moments of their journeys into addiction.
“We believed that the road to wisdom was through excess,” Tyler said. “But it got really bad in the ’80s.” “Stupidly, naively, when I had an album that didn’t do as good as the one before it, my thinking was well, obviously I didn’t drink nearly enough," Walsh added. "‘Jeez, I need to do more – it’s wearing off’.'”
Both noted that, as time went by, the sense of positivity began to diminish. “I ended up this godless, hateful thing,” Walsh said. “I had burned a lot of bridges. I had done crazy things. I didn’t really have any friends … I had forgot I was a musician. I forgot I play guitar – just didn’t do that anymore. I just kind of isolated and sat at home, and I had my own little universe that I was the head of. The only thing that mattered was not running out of vodka and cocaine. And that was a lot of work.”
Tyler said that "what happens with using is, it works in the beginning, but it doesn’t work in the end. It takes you down. There’s nothing but jail, insanity or death.”
The pair recalled the moment they were called out by their colleagues. “It was an intervention with the band,” Tyler said. “If I don’t go away to rehab, then the shit’s over. And it was interesting that I was being told by a bunch of guys that were still getting fucked up. But I’m grateful that that happened. ’Cause I would have never seen the light.” He also remembered a sense of suspicion. “I thought they were trying to brainwash me," he said. "I thought I would lose my creativity.”
“In 1980, we just ran out of steam,” Walsh said of the Eagles. “After about 15 years, Don Henley and Glenn Frey came to me and said, ‘We have been thinking of starting the Eagles back up again, and we can’t do it without you, and we can’t do it unless you’re sober.’ I was just about homeless. If I got sober, the Eagles would be back together. And I said to myself, ‘Man, if I’m going to do this, this is my chance.'”
But he owned up to his internal fear. “I thought sober people were like a cult who sold books at the airport," he said. "And I thought I would never be funny again.” Asked if they missed anything about how they “used to be,” Tyler replied that "there are times. But, you know what, I play it through. Once you see what happened to you when you went too far, you don’t want to go back again to all that shit.”
“I have some fond memories – a couple of the nights on the town ... a couple of songs I wrote when I was messed up that I’m sure wouldn’t have come out of me unless I was messed up," Walsh reflected. "It’s kind of happy-sad about those days – I could do anything I wanted to. I did. And now I don’t want to do any of that.”
On the subject of the risk of returning to drink, Walsh was certain it wouldn’t happen. “I can just see it, clearer than anything: If I get going again, I won’t make it back," he noted. "And I don’t want to do that. Life is too good.” “I don’t worry," Tyler admitted. "I know it’s possible. But I keep myself surrounded by the people that are [sober], and I rely on them for things in my life.”