NYDN: Aerosmith drummer loses battle to play Grammys


Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer probably isn’t feeling any sweet emotions after a judge ruled against him Wednesday.

The Superior Court judge in Plymouth County, Mass., decided Kramer can’t force his best-selling band to let him perform with the group at Sunday’s Grammy Awards, even after he flew to Los Angeles and was turned away from a practice on Monday.

“Given that Kramer has not played with the band in six months and the dearth of available rehearsal time before the upcoming (Grammy) performances, Kramer has not shown a realistic alternative course of action sufficient to protect the band’s business interests,” Judge Mark Gildea ruled.

“It is hereby ordered that the plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief be denied,” he wrote.

Kramer, 69, sought court intervention in the battle with an emergency legal filing on Friday.

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He claimed his bandmates of the last 50 years were subjecting him to an unfair “freeze-out” after he took time off last year to recover from a temporary disability.

In his paperwork, Kramer said singer Steven Tyler, guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford and bassist Tom Hamilton had no right to block him from rejoining the group when he tried to return to their “lucrative” Las Vegas residency last November.

He said the situation turned “devastating” when he also learned he’d be sidelined during the group’s Grammy honors this month, which include a MusiCares Person of the Year award and a “career-spanning medley” performed live during Sunday night’s show.

His breach of contract complaint asked the judge to step in with an immediate injunction restoring his drummer role.

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“Being prohibited from playing with a band that I have given 50 years of my life to supporting, is beyond devastating,” Kramer said Tuesday in a statement to the Daily News.

“This is not about money. I am being deprived of the opportunity to be recognized along with my peers, for our collective, lifetime contributions to the music industry,” he said.

“To be removed from my rightful place on stage to celebrate our success, a success that acknowledges my own life’s work, is just plain wrong,” he said.

Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer poses for a portrait in 2010.
Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer poses for a portrait in 2010. (Jeff Christensen/AP)
Tyler, 71, and the other band members held their ground.

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“Joey Kramer is our brother; his well-being is of paramount importance to us. However he has not been emotionally and physically able to perform with the band, by his own admission, for the last 6 months,” said a Tuesday statement shared with The News.

“We have missed him and have encouraged him to rejoin us to play many times but apparently he has not felt ready to do so. Joey has now waited until the last moment to accept our invitation, when we unfortunately have no time for necessary rehearsals during Grammys week,” the statement said.

“Given his decisions, he is unfortunately unable to perform, but of course we have invited him to be with us for both the Grammys and our MusiCares honor. We are bonded together by much more than our time on stage,” the statement added.

According to his 16-page complaint, Kramer said he was unfairly informed last year that he had to reaudition and prove he could “play at an appropriate level” after his leave of absence, even though he never agreed to such a policy.

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“It was an artificial, made-up and undefined ‘standard’ contained nowhere in the contracts and one to which no member had ever been held, formally or informally, in the history of Aerosmith,” his complaint argued.

Kramer claimed he was asked to perform “a series of solo rehearsals against a ‘click track,’ in essence a metronome used to keep time, with no other (band) member present.”

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He also was shut out of any discussions about the terms, even though he’s an “equal owner in the closely held corporations that comprise Aerosmith,” he argued through his lawyer Benjamin R. Zimmermann.

To “defuse the situation and prevent further acrimony” amid negotiations over his return, Kramer said he agreed to pay for a replacement drummer during the November and December Vegas residency run at an “exorbitant” cost of up to $20,000 per week.

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The musician said he grudgingly reauditioned with a click track in early January and was told his skills lacked “energy,” so he wouldn’t be allowed back on stage for the Grammy performance with guest musicians including Run-DMC.

While at least one band member told Kramer he sounded “great,” the drummer was informed he failed to deliver a “technically correct” performance that bested his replacement, the lawsuit said.

“In a 50-year course of conduct, no other Aerosmith band member has ever had to demonstrate that they were able to perform ‘as well as’ anyone, including their own replacement, as a prerequisite for returning to the band after a temporary injury, illness or absence,” his complaint argued.

“As it stands, the attempted freeze-out of Mr. Kramer is almost complete, and will result in irreparable harm to him if not remedied by this court,” the complaint said.