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The Story Behind The Song: 'Dude (Looks Like A Lady)' by Aerosmith

A pouting member of Mötley Crüe, a Bon Jovi songwriter, a risque video… Joe Perry looks back on how it all came together with the song that took Aerosmith back to rock’s top table.

It may be easy to gloss over today thanks to their subsequent decades of superstardom, but go back to early 1987 and Aerosmith were staring down the barrel.

They had overcome the barren years in which they limped on without Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, but what should have been their triumphant return, 1985’s Done With Mirrors (on which Perry and Whitford reunited with Steven Tyler, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer) was poorly received – even by the band.

Done With Mirrors was not exactly a resounding success as far as we were concerned,” Perry tells Classic Rock 30-plus years on from the album’s release. “Some people like that record and some people don’t. I don’t like it so much.”

But while Aerosmith’s eighth album flopped critically, it set them on the path to becoming the biggest rock band on the planet. Again. The tours that sandwiched the record’s release showed Tyler and Perry that they could still tour the world without tearing strips off each other, for starters. Their dissatisfaction with Done With Mirrors also taught them that they needed to rip up their own rule book when it came time to work up their next record. That was 1987’s Permanent Vacation, which resurrected Aerosmith’s career and sold by the boatload.


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