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Aerosmith Drummer Sues Band for Sweet Exclusion, Loses

Awkward. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Joey Kramer, the drummer and longtime member of Aerosmith, is currently suing the band for excluding him in the lead-up to several high-profile events. Per court documents obtained by Rolling Stone, Kramer is alleging that the band forced him to re-audition months after sustaining a few minor injuries last spring, when they were preparing to kick off their Las Vegas residency. Kramer was told that he would have to “play at an appropriate level” while recording himself solo with a click track, as opposed to playing alongside other Aerosmith members. He claims such a standard was never required in the past when members became injured, such as with Joe Perry’s recent collapse. Another drummer would go on to represent Aerosmith at the residency’s remaining 2019 dates, whom Kramer had to pay from his own contract.

Earlier this month, in the lead-up to Aerosmith receiving Grammys’ Lifetime Achievement honors and MusiCares’ Person of the Year Award, Kramer decided to appease the band and begin a re-auditioning process. While he alleges his fellow bandmates told him he sounded “great” and were pleased by his work, they proceeded to ultimately rule against him rejoining at this time, as Kramer “did not have enough ‘energy’ in the recordings.”

“This is not about money,” Kramer said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “I am being deprived of the opportunity to be recognized along with my peers for our collective lifetime contributions to the music industry. The fact that I would be asked to audition for my own job, demonstrate that I can play at ‘an appropriate level’ and play better than my temporary fill-in with a moving target of made-up standards is both insulting and upsetting.” Kramer added that in Aerosmith’s 50-year history, “no other band member has ever been subjected to this scrutiny, let alone be asked to audition for his own job!” In a separate statement, Aerosmith said Kramer was too late in accepting their invitation to perform during Grammys week, and as such, the time needed for “necessary rehearsals” with him wouldn’t be enough.

“We would be doing a disservice to him, to ourselves and to our fans to have him play without adequate time to prepare and rehearse,” the band said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “Compounding this, he chose to file a lawsuit on the Friday night of the holiday weekend preceding the Grammys with total disregard for what is our limited window to prepare to perform these important events.” Aerosmith added that they “of course” invited Kramer to all related Grammy and MusiCares events, which will kick off this weekend.

Update, 5:45 p.m.: In what is undoubtably a crushing blow to the convalescing ego, TMZ reports that a judge has ruled against Joey Kramer’s performing with Aerosmith during the impending Grammys weekend, citing a lack of adequate preparation between him and his band members. “Given that Kramer has not played with the band in six months and the dearth of available rehearsal time before the upcoming performances,” the ruling states, “Kramer has not shown a realistic alternative course of action sufficient to protect the band’s business interests.”

Update, January 25: Joey Kramer accepted the MusiCares’ Person of the Year award alongside the rest of his Aerosmith bandmates on Friday evening, but didn’t participate in the subsequent performance. Per TMZ, their ceremony was drama-free and civil, with the band’s entertainment lawyer joking in a speech that they “refer to each other as brothers and they even fight like brothers.” That’s one way to put it.

Aerosmith Drummer Sues Band for Sweet Exclusion, Loses