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MTV Makes Aerosmith an Icon

Sure, there are Grammys and a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There are MTV’s Video Music Awards and platinum albums, too.

But Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler said the ultimate accolade comes when well-known artists cover the songs that made his band a household name.

“We’ve had people cover our stuff for years. You can go into a lot of bars and hear it. That’s an honor in itself. But then when you hear Kid Rock or Run-DMC or somebody else perform your songs, it brings it to a whole new level,” Tyler told The Associated Press.

Now Tyler and his bandmates get to see it firsthand when they are honored on “mtvICON,” a star-studded cover-song salute. It airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on MTV.

Among those taking the stage to perform versions of Aerosmith’s music: Kid Rock, Pink, Train, Papa Roach, Shakira and Nas. Aerosmith also performs.

The show includes testimonials from Mila Kunis of “That ’70s Show” and Alicia Silverstone, who have appeared in Aerosmith videos, as well as Janet Jackson, who was the subject of the first “mtvICON” special a year ago.

Aerosmith, with its 32 music videos, was a natural choice for the honor, said Brian Graden, MTV’s president for programming.

“They were one of the first to play in other genres. They embraced the infusion of rap and rock and they have continued to work with other artists,” he said. “They really have become generational icons.”

Guitarist Joe Perry shrugged off the icon status.

“You stick around long enough and you get noticed,” he joked. “It’s fun. It’s another adventure for us. That’s why we’re doing it.”

He and Tyler formed Aerosmith in 1970. They became the U.S. answer to British invasion bands like the Rolling Stones and The Who, with hits like “Dream On.”

But along with success came alcohol, drugs and infighting that caused the band to split.

A sobered-up band reunited in the mid-1980s. They teamed with rappers Run-DMC for a remix of Aerosmith’s signature song “Walk This Way.” The success continued in the ’90s. They won Grammys and hit the top of the singles charts for the first time with “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (the love theme for the movie “Armageddon”).

In preparation for “mtvICON,” which includes Aerosmith interviews, the band members admitted to reflecting on their careers.

Tyler said one night recently before he went to bed he compiled a list of the band’s ups and downs.

“Aerosmith has been eaten, beaten, cheated, ignored. We’ve been loved, hated, censored, quoted, banned, scanned, honored, offered, rewarded and reported. We’ve been seen, heard, read, near dead. So where do we see Aerosmith going?” he read from the list.

The answer, he said: “Wherever the road doesn’t take us, that’s where we’ll be.”

After three decades, Perry said he has come to recognize that his association with the band is “about the journey and getting the most out of it.”

“As long as I still get goose bumps playing and watching Steven hit those high notes, I know I’m doing OK,” he said.

For bassist Tom Hamilton, the show has brought the band full circle from its beginnings.

“All these things that were supposed to replace us have come and gone – disco, punk, new wave. It’s all gone and we’re still lingering,” he said.

It’s that staying power that has the attention of many performing in the show.

“If there’s anybody to look up to for that, it’s them. They are one of the only rock bands left from the 70s,” said Papa Roach guitarist Jerry Horton. “They are still doing it and doing it well…. We definitely are going for that kind of longevity in our careers.”

Shakira said she admired not only the band’s longevity but its generational fan base.

“So many people – children, older people – know who they are,” she said.

Horton, whose band performs “Sweet Emotion” during the tribute, admitted to a few nerves prior to taking the stage before Aerosmith.

“I don’t normally get nervous. But it’s one thing to cover a song from a band, it’s another to cover it while they are listening to it,” he said.

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