Steven Tyler Spills Untold Secrets of “Sweet Emotion”

Youtube @howardstern

Other artists would usually stop recording whenever they break an instrument. But Aeromisth wasn’t like other artists, and even the lack of maracas won’t stop Steven Tyler as long as he has a packet of sugar in hand.

These and more fascinating behind-the-scene details were revealed during an interview with Howard Stern in 2013. A snippet of said video gained traction after it surfaced on an unofficial Aerosmith fan page on Tiktok.


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♬ original sound – getyourwingss

Instrument Fiasco

In the interview snippet, Steven described to Howard how he broke a vibraslap they needed to use for the “Sweet Emotion” recording. The instrument, a pretty fragile percussion piece, broke while being recorded, and Aerosmith decided to leave the tape as is.

“Listen. Hear that?” Steven asked the host as the “Sweet Emotion” intro played in the background. “It’s called a vibraslap,” he explained. “You can hear it break. Watch. Did you hear that? I broke it. We left it in.”

And indeed it was there. At the 23-second mark of the song, you can hear a nearly indiscernible yet out-of-place tinkle. “I went doink and it went fuck,” Steven recalled as he drops his gaze to the floor.

The Aerosmith frontman also candidly revealed that, in the absence of maracas, he used a sugar packet he found “on the bottom” of their SIR drumkit as a replacement.

“We get there with a SIR drum kit. No maracas. We’re doing fucking this song, no maracas,” Steven shared. Instead of delaying things, he knew he needed to get creative.

After getting ahold of the sugar packet, he remembered saying “Jack, turn the mic up,” and mimicked the sounds of maracas as its part played in the intro. The hosts were mindblown after knowing that the “shake, shake” sound they heard from the hit song was actually from some litter Steven picked from the floor.

“With a sugar pack? That’s amazing,” an amazed Howard said during the interview.

Inspired by Jealousy and Bitterness

Fans believed that the song was Steven’s way of letting out his bitterness about the band members’ feud with Joe Perry’s first wife, Elyssa Jerret.

This dispute deteriorated further and led to the infamous spilled milk incident that reportedly caused the band’s first breakup.

During the Howard Stern interview, though, Steven admitted and confirmed that it was jealousy that inspired him to write “Sweet Emotions”.

When Howard asked him “You wrote the lyrics? What were you thinking about, Sweet Emotion, at the time?”, Steven instantly said “Elyssa, Joe’s girl”, and then sang the first verse line of the song “You talk about things that nobody cares”

The singer shared how excited he was after they wrote their first song together, and how he figured out that the secret to a successful songwriting collaboration was living together in an apartment. 

“We nailed it, we wrote our first song. It’s gonna be the easiest thing now just to keep going..”

Joe moved out two weeks later to live with his then-girlfriend Elyssa, much to Steven’s dismay. The latter likened the whole thing to a lover abandoning him, and he felt jealous about it.

As Howard succinctly concluded “…so all that emotion came out. Sweet Emotion. Motherfucker.” 

The Start of Major Success

When Howard Stern asked at the beginning of the interview snippet “Is this one the greatest Aerosmith songs ever written?” everyone would probably nod and agree. For this is, without a doubt, a fact.

“Sweet Emotion” was the domino piece that started a string of success for the band. After a lackluster debut album and a not-really-there-yet sophomore showing, Aerosmith finally made it big with their third album, Toys in the Attic.


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The 1975 album would go on and become one the band’s most commercially successful LPs and would wound up in best-albums lists, including Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The song’s popularity even prompted the resurgence of their old albums, leading to the re-release of the popular power ballad from their self-titled debut album, “Dream On”.

The rattling vibraslap and Joe’s use of a talk box along with his iconic riffs, with Steven’s anger seeping into his voice, “Sweet Emotion” quickly became a resounding success, altering Aerosmith’s trajectory.

Not Just a Hit Song

As the interview unfolded, it became evident that “Sweet Emotion” was not just a hit song—it was a cultural phenomenon. The song has transcended time and has allowed it to remain an integral part of rock music history.

And the 2013 interview on the Howard Stern Show is just a rare and intimate glimpse into the iconic anthem’s creation. The candid backstory is just a facet of the song’s brilliance—an unforgettable piece of musical fabric weaved into rock music’s colorful history.