Book Reviews

AEROSMITH DRUMMER JOEY KRAMER HITS SOFT WITH AUTOBIOGRAPHY

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Next up on the heavy metal, hard rock, and punk rock book treadmill is Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer’s 2009 autobiography Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top.

The little-known drummer of one of the most successful bands in music history brings to the table a story rife with the things that make rock star books appealing to so many readers: sex, drugs, backstage hoo-ha, band squabbles, a troubled youth, and more. Only, it all seems to fall flat when it comes to rock star debauchery, as well as its other seemingly intended goal of providing a cautionary tale of drugs and schadenfreude.

Here’s the Cliff Notes version of Hit Hard – young boy is abused by his father; boy seeks solace in music and playing drums; boy meets charismatic fellow drummer (Steven Tyler) who verbally abuses him; boys form band and become mega-superstars; drummer makes tons of money, fucks lots of women, snorts lots of coke and becomes a basket case; band fights and breaks up; band reforms and regains the rock mantle; drummer realizes he has a drug problem and attempts to kick it; drummer sobers up and sheds most of the bad influences from his life.

It has all the trappings of a great story, but there is way too omitted which simply makes Hit Hard a frustrating read. Though Kramer reveals seemingly difficult stories about his dad, his band, his drug problems, and his bad relationships, it feels as if he held back on too much key information that would have pushed his book over the edge.

Everything about this book seems rushed and incomplete. For instance, the section about his father’s abuse comes across as mundane: “My dad was mean. He didn’t like me. He smacked me and made me bleed. I could not stand him.” Now, I know that’s not what Kramer wrote, but it is all I came away with after reading this book.

Another example concerns the rise of Aerosmith. It just seems like one day he and Steven got together, the other guys came on board, they wrote a couple of songs, and then they were playing in front of 80,000 people. I don’t remember reading how they went from a garage band to Rock Band. I’m not sure if it’s uninspired writing (Kramer had two co-authors, William Patrick and Keith Garde), drug-addled shoddy memory, or simply skimping on the information.

At 239 pages, first of all, you would be not mistaken in assuming that there is not here to tell the full story of Joey Kramer and Aerosmith. To make matters worse, the 239 pages are padded with more than 80 pages of photographs throughout the text (not counting the photo insert). So, you get a measly 160 pages to tell the story of the drummer in one of the biggest rock and roll bands on the planet.

Now, I’m sure naysayers will whine about this review and say “If you want to learn about Aerosmith, read Walk This Way.” One day, I will. But, even if Kramer’s goals are to expose his hard-scrabble childhood and steer others clear from drug abuse, I still want to know about Aerosmith. Let’s be frank here; that’s the only reason most people would pick up this book. He’s the drummer for Aerosmith.

It’s not like a Tommy Lee story where he is in the tabloids 24/7. In fact, I’m sure some people who like Aerosmith don’t even know Joey Kramer’s name to this day. Sad, but true. Given those negatives, more juicy Aerosmith tidbits seem to be in order. Unfortunately, they aren’t.

Joey Kramer seems like a nice enough guy and I’m sorry his dad smacked him around. Beyond that though there’s not much in Hit Hard to make me care about the guy.

Other than Tommy Lee, Neil Peart, John Bonham, and Keith Moon, drummers are pretty fucking boring. I’m sure there are a few exceptions, but I seriously doubt that many of them are worthy of full-length tomes about their lives.

Sadly, Joey Kramer’s Hit Hard fails to drum up much excitement.

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(1 ½ out of 5 horns)

-CM

Corey Mitchell is a best-selling author of true crime books and founder of In Cold Blog. Join him on Facebook and Twitter. His next book, SAVAGE SON, can be pre-ordered now.

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