The hardest working man in radio Howard Stern had a memorable 60th birthday bash when Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler turned up to play his hit “Dream On”, helped out by none other than Guns N’ Roses wildman Slash and Train. Stern and the crowd were treated to a very different arrangement of the classic track, starting with Tyler playing solo on piano and giving the power ballad an intense and moody workover.
The original song dives right into a full rock arrangement, but here the backing band Train held back and only added the rock ‘n’ roll thunder after the song had time to build up some tension. Slash meanwhile clearly knows how to make an entrance, and only stormed onstage when it was time to play his climatic solo, which took the song up another notch and got the crowd going wild. Check out the performance below, which has been viewed a huge 87 million times on YouTube.
Slash is in absolutely smoking form on the track, and rather than trying to ape Joe Perry’s original guitar parts, he leans into his own fiery blues rock style and makes the song his own. Fans who are used to the studio version will also get to hear a very different Steven Tyler, as the veteran rocker, no longer being a fresh-faced 24-year-old, lends a completely different character to the vocal, adding a darker, bluesy rasp to the song.
Stern’s 60th birthday bash was a star-studded affair, which is unsurprising considering how much A-list talent he regularly hosts on his show. The 4.5 hour event featured performances from rock royalty such as Jon Bon Jovi, John Fogerty, Dave Grohl, Rob Zombie and Adam Levine, with Train acting as the backing band for the night. You can watch Tyler, Slash and Grohl kick out the jams on Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” at the event in the clip below.
Music lovers gave Tyler’s performance of “Dream On” a warm reception online, adding comments such as “I have goosebumps. I don’t listen to rock at all but I have to admit Steven Tyler has a monstrous voice. Incredible talent,” and “This is my favourite version of this song. You really can’t beat Slash on guitar. I watch this over and over.”
“Dream On” was a shoo-in for inclusion on the setlist for the event, as it’s a nightly staple at Aerosmith shows, as well as being their most popular song on streaming services. The Tyler-penned ballad was Aerosmith’s debut single back in 1973 and broke the band onto the international stage as well as being a perennial classic rock radio favourite.
The origin of the song goes all the way back to Tyler’s childhood. The rocker told Rolling Stone that he would lie beneath his father’s piano as he would play classical pieces, and stated “that’s where I got that ‘Dream On’ chordage.” In Aerosmith’s memoir Walk This Way, the frontman stated that he developed the lyrics and music further as a teen, even before the band started. He commented that “it was just this little thing I was playing, and I never dreamed it would end up as a real song or anything. It’s about dreaming until your dreams come true.”