Aerosmith's Steven Tyler

March has been an active month for Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler.

His band has just announced a major tour to commence on April 11, now

that Tyler's recent knee injury has healed. And Aerosmith performed the

Oscar-nominated "I Don't Want to Miss a

Thing" (RealAudio excerpt) at Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony.

In addition, Tyler sued his ex-wife this month to prevent her from publishing a nude photo

of him in a paperback edition of her autobiography, "Dream On."

Tyler, who turns 51 today, was born Steven Tallarico in New York. He formed Aerosmith

in New Hampshire in 1970 with guitarist Joe Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton. Tyler, then

a drummer, soon switched to lead vocals, making room for skinsman Joey Kramer, who

joined around the same time as guitarist Brad Whitford.

Aerosmith based themselves in Boston and gigged steadily. Record executive Clive

Davis, then with Columbia Records, signed the band to his label after seeing it play at

New York City's famed Max's Kansas City.

Aerosmith's eponymous debut LP (1973) cracked the Billboard album chart

thanks to the minor hit "Dream On," one of the first of the myriad "power ballads"

recorded by rock bands in the next two decades. The band's follow-up, Get Your

Wings (1974), spent 86 weeks on the Billboard chart.

Toys in the Attic (1975) defined Aerosmith's sound: hard, metal-based rock with a

touch of pop, underscored by blues riffs. It proved a potent mix, as the LP reached #11

and spurred the re-release of "Dream On," which became a top-10 smash.

Rocks (1976) was a platinum-seller and is considered by many critics and fans to

be Aerosmith's crowning achievement, with a flawless lineup of solid tunes such as

"Back in the Saddle" and "Last Child."

However, 1977's Draw the Line, though a solid seller, didn't live up to the quality

of its predecessor, and Aerosmith then went into free fall. Various bandmembers' drug

addictions took their toll and hindered the music of 1979's Night in the Ruts. Perry

quit the group before the album's release, followed by Whitford.

Rock in a Hard Place (1982) featured replacement players and seemed to signal

the end of Aerosmith, but Perry and Whitford soon returned for a reunion tour. After

beginning to address their drug problems, the original lineup rebounded with the solid

Done With Mirrors.

A funny thing then happened on the way back from drug rehabilitation. Tyler and Perry

teamed with Run D.M.C. for the rap group's take on Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." The

track was a smash and raised Aerosmith's profile once again, a fact the band used to

great advantage on the hooks-laden Permanent Vacation (1987). The LP featured

many tunes co-written with songwriters such as Holly Knight and Desmond Child. Cuts

like "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)," "Angel," and "Rag Doll" brought Aerosmith so many new

fans that the band was more popular than at its mid-'70s creative peak.

Pump (1989) sold even more copies and yielded now-signature Aerosmith songs

such as "Love in an Elevator" and "Janie's Got a Gun." The band's next LP, Get a

Grip, (1993) spawned big hits in "Livin' on the Edge," "Cryin' " and "Amazing."

Nine Lives (1997) was the result of a troubled recording process, during which

Aerosmith's recently fired manager accused Tyler of being back on drugs, a charge the

singer denied. The album debuted at #1, but didn't sell as well as its immediate

predecessors.

Last year, Aerosmith issued the live A Little South of Sanity. An Aerosmith tribute

CD on Cleopatra Records is now in the works; it's slated to feature such singers as Vince

Neil, Ronnie James Dio and Tommy Shaw.

In the meantime, Tyler and company are preparing for their tour and are writing songs for

their next effort.

"Our life kind of revolves around getting to and from the stage to perform," Whitford said

recently. "The easiest thing we do is to rock like that."

Other birthdays: Fred Parris (Five Satins), 63; Diana Ross, 55; Richard Tandy (ELO), 51;

Fran Sheehan (Boston), 50; Teddy Pendergrass, 49; Martin Price (808 State), 44; James

Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), 31.