Of Aerosmith's two longtime guitarists, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, it's Perry who usually gets all the spotlight -- due to his bluesy leads and songwriting skills (having penned most of the group's best-known songs along with singer Steven Tyler). But it's not to say that Whitford hasn't contributed to the group, as he co-wrote some of the group's best album tracks, and his solid rhythm playing served as an important ingredient to the now-identifiable Aerosmith sound. Born on February 23, 1952 in Reading, MA, Whitford became interested in music early on via his older brother, who had hopes of becoming a radio disc jockey. It wasn't long before Whitford began playing his brother's guitar and taking lessons, and playing in such obscure '60s local bands as Teapot Dome, Earth Incorporated, Cymbals of Resistance, and Justin Tyme. But upon discovering such blues-based hard rock acts as Led Zeppelin and Humble Pie, Whitford's playing took on a similar style.
After attending the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston during the early '70s, Whitford was invited to join up with Aerosmith, who were still and up-and-coming local band at the time themselves. Replacing original guitarist/member Ray Tabano, Whitford proved to be missing piece to the puzzle for Aerosmith, as they soon after were signed by Columbia Records. Whitford and Aerosmith slowly but surely built up a solid following by non-stop touring, as their first two releases sold admirably -- 1973's self-titled debut and 1974's Get Your Wings. But it was such classic hard rock releases as 1975's Toys in the Attic and 1976's Rocks that catapulted Aerosmith to the top of the heap, as they became one of the decade's most popular (and later, most influential), hard rock acts. Although usually standing in the back and letting Perry and Tyler hog all the spotlight, Whitford helped co-pen several tracks that have gone on to become fan favorites, including such Zeppelin-esque riff mongers as "Round and Round" and "Nobody's Fault," plus the funk-rocker "Last Child," among others.
But big-time success caused the bandmembers to indulge heavily in drink and drugs, which led to the group's disintegration. Although such albums as 1977's Draw the Line, 1978's Live Bootleg, and 1979's Night in the Ruts sold well, the group's magical spark had long been extinguished (during this time, Whitford also played guitar on an a release by the obscure outfit, Nineteen Eighty Four). Soon after, both Perry and Whitford opted to exit the group about a year apart from each other. Upon his exit from Aerosmith in 1981, Whitford hooked up with former Ted Nugent singer/guitarist Derek St. Holmes, forming the appropriately titled outfit Whitford/St. Holmes. But when a self-titled release the same year failed to return the pair to the top of the charts (and a subsequent completed sophomore effort was shelved), the duo split up; St. Holmes returned back to Nugent, and Whitford joined forces briefly alongside his former Aero-bandmate Joe Perry in the Joe Perry Project. In 1983, Whitford played guitar on former teen heartthrob Rex Smith's release, Camouflage, playing on several tracks and co-penning a song called "Get it Right."
With Aerosmith's career on the downside (and all current and previous members still hindered by substances, and fast going bankrupt), Whitford and Perry decided to return to the group, resulting in a reunion tour in 1984. It took the group a few years (and a failed comeback album, 1985's Done with Mirrors) to regain their footing, and put and end to the drug abuse once and for all. But as soon as they cleaned up their act, Aerosmith reclaimed their standing as one of the world's top hard rock acts, as they scored massive hits with 1987's Permanent Vacation and 1989's Pump. In addition, the group's sound and look was copied by countless bands around this time, including Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, Cinderella, the Black Crowes, etc. Whitford also took the time to try his hand at co-producing another group, the Boston-based power pop outfit the Neighborhoods, on 1990's Hoodwinked. Whitford and Aerosmith toured and issued albums throughout the '90s and beyond (although their music became more radio-friendly with each subsequent release), including 1993's Get a Grip, 1997's Nine Lives, and 2001's Just Push Play. Whitford (along with his bandmates) was extensively interviewed for Aerosmith's 1997 autobiography Walk This Way. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi