40 years ago this month Boston rockers Aerosmith released their debut album, Aerosmith, on Columbia Records. Despite the presence of "Dream On", the album's first single was "Mama Kin" a song in which Steven Tyler hD so much confidence, he had the words "Ma Kin" tattooed on his arm. Despite its heavy riff, the single bombed. The album barely broke into the Top 200, peaking at 166.
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While the band would earn a reputation as the American Rolling Stones, it is their Led Zeppelinesque tune "Dream On" that truly stands out on the debut.Tyler wrote the classical keyboard riff on his father's piano when he was a teenager.
Joe Perry told Classic Rock Magazine he didn't care for the song:
"Back in those days you made your mark playing live. And to me rock 'n' roll's all about energy and putting on a show. Those were the things that attracted me to rock 'n' roll, but 'Dream On' was a ballad. I didn't really appreciate the musicality of it until later, but I did know it was a great song, so we put it in our set. We also knew that if you played straight rock 'n' roll you didn't get played on the radio and, if you wanted a top forty hit, the ballad was the way to go. I don't know if we really played it much live, in those days if you only had half an hour to make your mark, you didn't play slow songs. So it wasn't until after it became a single that we really started playing it."
As a single "Dream On" peaked at a disappointing #59 in the pop charts, but the ballad showed just enough promise for Columbia Records to keep Aerosmith on the label. A decision that would prove very fruitful in the years to come. Aerosmith has sold more than 150 million albums.