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Night In The Ruts

Jimmy joined Aerosmith amidst the turbulent recording of their 1979 album Night In The Ruts. With Joe Perry walking out, Jimmy was chosen as his replacement in "America's Greatest Rock Band"...

Tension within Aerosmith in 1979 was at an all time high, culminating in the departure of Joe Perry after financial pressures, band rivalry and spousal bickering brought the band to breaking point. Joe left to form the Joe Perry Project (for more info on the JPP see Crossfire by Scott Swinsburg), while Aerosmith searched vigorously for a guitarist to complete the Night In The Ruts album. Friend of Steven Tyler's, Richie Supa (Chip Away At The Stone, Lightning Strikes) contributed some uncredited work to the NITR sessions, as did guitar tech Neil Thompson, while Michael Schenker from the band UFO and Danny Johnson from Derringer were also considered to fill Perry's boots.

Jimmy Crespo, bored with studio session work accepted an invitation from David Krebs, first auditioned for Aerosmith at SIR Studios, NY. Unrehearsed, Jimmy had felt he'd blown the audition, and thinking the band had not been impressed with him, was a little surprised that he was invited back in October '79 for a second, more successful and rehearsed audition. While his friendship with Richie Supa and Krebs' good words may have helped, Jimmy's unique style and talent had won the band over.

Steven recalled in the band's autobiography, Walk This Way, that "when I saw Jimmy, I thought, that's it. He looks like Joe. He can really play. He could finger pick!! I went, Wow. He had his own technique, a classical background."

After being officially invited to join the band, Jimmy had a baptism of fire, having just two weeks to finish work on the NITR album at Media sound studios under Glen Lyons' production, and learn Aerosmith's live catalogue before touring was to commence.

Jimmy was not credited for his work on Night In The Ruts, contributing guitar to several tracks, nor was he included in the promotional pictures and cover pictures for the album. Finally in 1991 he was officially acknowledged as having played the solo on Three Mile Smile on the album, Brad Whitford recalling in Pandora's Box , "Both Jimmy and I recorded solos for this song (Three Mile Smile). Steven liked Jimmy's solo better and his is the one that you hear on the record, and I'm still pissed about it.". Also on this 1991 Columbia box set, emerged a Tyler/Crespo track, entitled "Riff and Roll" (alternatively titled on the .999 Pure Gold bootleg, "Hey You"), though even on this recording, Jimmy was not credited as playing on it (Joe Perry was) despite being credited as co-writer of the song! This song was truly a gem, and makes one wonder what other songs lie hidden from this era of Aersomith. Joey Kramer said of the track, "Always thought it was a great song, but we never got around to using it. As a matter of fact, I still like it."

The new lineup of the band soon found themselves performing as a secret warm up act for Humble Pie at Private's Nightclub, NY, ( in front of small audience which included Cristopher Reeve), officially starting the tour in Binghampton, NY, before the first of a series of incidents occurred, beginning in December in Portchester, NY. Steven was hopelessly intoxicated, and collapsed on the drum riser several times , going off stage, returning, forgetting lyrics, before falling into the audience at the end of the show. Jimmy, feeling naive to Tyler's drug problems, was having second thoughts about joining Aerosmith. His doubts must have worstened when Steven collapsed at a show in Portland, Maine, unable to get up, eventually being carried off by tour staff. The tour was postponed for a week. Jimmy was making his mark with his playing though. January 11, 1980, playing the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada, he received a standing ovation, prompting Steven to yell to the crowd, "Fills those fuckin' shoes pretty fuckin' good, don't he?", a greater cheer rising from the audience. However, the spectre of Joe Perry's absence from the band was always to hang over the shows, the crowd yelling for Joe just two days later on the 13th of January at the Nassau Coliseum.

The tour was eventually cancelled due mostly to Tyler's drug problem, his financial situation worsening with his health. In the fall of 1980, Steven then got himself into a motorbike crash, tearing off his heel, and ending up in a cast for 6 months. Jimmy and the rest of the band began rehearsals for the next album amid an uncertain future...

Rock In A Hard Place