According to TMZ, Aerosmith’s Joey Kramer has filed a lawsuit against his bandmates, claiming that they are keeping him from returning to the group. This news comes after the drummer previously took a break from the band due to injury.
Kramer says that he sustained minor injuries in spring 2019 and was planning to rejoin the group in the fall. However, Aerosmith reportedly made him go through an audition in which he had to play along with a “click track” to prove that he was “able to play at an appropriate level.” After listening to his performance, the band allegedly said that he “did not have enough energy” to return.
During his absence, Kramer was also required to pay for the cost of a fill-in drummer at a rate of $20,000 a week for performances and $10,000 a week for rehearsals. As Rolling Stone pointed out, this was part of an agreement in Aerosmith’s contract that said absent members will still get their full share, but replacements will be paid with part of their cut.
Kramer is currently trying to get the court to order him back in the band to avoid “irreparable harm.” He also issued his own statement on the situation:
“Ever since I was 14 years old, I had a set of drumsticks in my hand and a passion to create music. Being prohibited from playing with a band that I have given 50 years of my life to supporting, is beyond devastating.
This is not about money. I am being deprived of the opportunity to be recognized along with my peers, for our collective, lifetime contributions to the music industry. Neither the MusiCares’ Person of the Year Award nor the Grammys’ Lifetime Achievement honors can ever be repeated.
The fact that I would be asked to audition for my own job, demonstrate that I can play at ‘an appropriate level’ and play better than my temporary fill-in with a moving target of made-up standards is both insulting and upsetting. Other band members and their lawyers will likely attempt to disparage my playing and claim that I am unable to play the drums right now. Nothing could be further from the truth. I did everything they asked – jumped through hoops and made both a recording of playing along solo to a recent live recording of the band – one I had never heard before, and that process was videotaped. But I did it, and I did it well. In Aerosmith’s 50-year history, no other band member has ever been subjected to this scrutiny let alone be asked to audition for his own job!
I hope our fans can understand that all I’m trying to do is get back to playing with the band that they love – and that’s Aerosmith with all five original members. The greatest magic and success of Aerosmith happens when all the band’s founding members are together in the house. To be removed from my rightful place on stage to celebrate our success – a success that acknowledges my own life’s work, is just plain wrong.”
UPDATE: Aerosmith have now issued an official statement to People:
“Joey Kramer is our brother; his wellbeing is of paramount importance to us. However he has not been emotionally and physically able to perform with the band, by his own admission, for the last 6 months. We have missed him and have encouraged him to rejoin us to play many times but apparently he has not felt ready to do so.
Joey has now waited until the last moment to accept our invitation, when we unfortunately have no time for necessary rehearsals during Grammys week. We would be doing a disservice to him, to ourselves and to our fans to have him play without adequate time to prepare and rehearse. Compounding this, he chose to file a lawsuit on the Friday night of the holiday weekend preceding the Grammys with total disregard for what is our limited window to prepare to perform these important events. Given his decisions he is unfortunately unable to perform but of course we have invited him to be with us for both the Grammys and our MusiCares honor. We are bonded together by much more than our time on stage.”