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Riff & Roll Exclusive Interview With Jimmy - Part 1(1998)

Riff and Roll caught up with Jimmy and talked to him about a variety of subjects, including the recording of Rock In A Hard Place, his time playing in Aerosmith and with Rod Stewart and other bands, a planned album and much more....
Steven Tyler collapses onstage in Portland, 1979

Riff and Roll: Now In Aerosmith's Autobiography, Walk This Way, there's a picture of yourself playing on while Brad Whitford checked on Steven, who'd collapsed on stage. What was it like trying to entertain a crowd in those circumstances?

Jimmy Crespo: That was in my first few shows with Aerosmith, about my second I think. It was in Portland and it was pretty disappointing. I was really looking forward to playing with these guys, and when Steven collapsed I knew something was really wrong. It felt strange, but most of all it was just disappointing, and I wondered what I was getting myself into.

RR: At one stage, yourself, Joey and Tom teamed up with Marge Raymond from Flame to form Renegade, and apparently tracks were recorded for a potential release. How far from fruition did that venture go?

JC: Well we had a record deal through Columbia, and we got several tracks in the can before Steven eventually got it together. I was responsible for writing the music in Renegade, Tony Bongiovi produced it with Bob Mayo on Keyboards/vocals and the tracks were recorded over at S./.R. studios on 52nd Street in New York. From memory I think a few of the tracks were named "Cinderella Dreamer", "Ride On", and "One More Night". I think Steven caught wind of what we were doing and realised he had to get things moving again, otherwise the band was history. I remember there was one other track I was working on with Renegade, which Steven and I ended up collaborating on which was called something like "Well Run Dry" too.

RR: So what stage did the follow up to Rock In A Hard Place get to?

JC: Not too far. Columbia wouldn't advance us any money for the album, they wanted to hear the recordings before they would give us any money. This kind of made it into a stalemate situation, and all the while Steven wasn't in the best health. There were a few ideas floating around though.

RR: Any favourite songs from the Aerosmith days?

JC: Of the album I played on my favourite was probably Bolivian Ragamuffin. It was really raw and fun to play. I liked playing stuff like the Jig Is Up and Rock In A Hard Place (Cheshire Cat), they were all a lot of fun. Rock In A Hard Place was the first song I collaborated and recorded with Steven, so it kind of sentimentally holds a place in my heart. Some of the other songs I really liked too, and some were ok. Jailbait got a little repetitve to play, it was a pretty simple song. Of the songs that we played in concert other than the ones I wrote, Sweet Emotion and Back In The Saddle were some of my favourites to play live.

RR: Do you still play any songs from those days live these days?

JC: I do actually. I break into Bolivian Ragamuffin occasionally!

RR: You still listen to Aerosmith?

JC: Yeah, I like them a lot, especially the older stuff. Their newer stuff is different to what they used to do, but it's good too.

RR: Your parting with Aerosmith - were you a little disappointed not to be able to put together another album with the band?

JC: It was a major disappointment. To be honest I didn't expect to be in Aerosmith as long as I was without making a lot more albums. I expected in that time we would have made at least 2 or 3 albums, and I would have liked to have made 4 or 5 in that period, but things just weren't that productive with all the problems.


RR: How many people were fired during Rock In A Hard Place? And the production costs?

JC: There were always new faces about, but the close Aero family remained pretty constant. Felix Popolardi who'd produced Cream and songs like Sunshine of Your Love and later Eric Clapton's albums was supposed to be producing the album, but unfortunately he was shot by his wife. The production costs ended up being about $1.5 mil, which in those days was a hell of a lot.

RR: So how much did you play on the previous album, Night In The Ruts?

JC: I only joined Aerosmith the night before the mixing of Night In The Ruts after Joe Perry left. They got me to come in and fire off a solo to Three Mile Smile, and that was pretty much it.

RR: Favourite guitar solo of your own?

JC: I would have to say probably Cry Me A River.

RR: Who's idea was that to cover that song? Is it true it was done in one take?

JC: That was Steven's idea. That was a great idea - I remember Steven had this old 40's Julie London record with that song on it and he thought it would be a good idea to cover it. I gotta say I love the guy, he's so talented, and it was great to work with him. Actually that solo was one of the only solos I've done in one take, I just had the sound perfect, and the end result came out great. I said to Jack (Douglas) do you want me to do it again, and he said "no that's it!"

RR: Is it true that Steven Tyler is really a left handed bassist named William Campbell and when you play "Jailbait" backwards it says "Steven is dead, miss him, miss him, miss him"? Or are those the lyrics normally to "Bolivian Ragamuffin"? :)

JC: I hadn't heard that! But it could be the lyrics to Bolivian Ragamuffin though! A lot of that song sounds like jibber jabber. I do know though that at the time all the best drugs were Bolivian, and Steven was right into that stuff.


Part Two of the Interview with Jimmy Crespo