Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer has been captured on video being turned away from rehearsal and is now legally prohibited from playing in the band at a charity event and at the 62nd Grammy Awards.
Kramer has been absent from the band since July 2019 due to health issues.
Kramer filed an injunction in Massachusetts Plymouth County Superior Court on January 17 requiring the band to allow him to perform at the MusiCares Gala on January 25, 2020 and the Grammy Awards on January 26, 2020.
Judge Mark Gildea denied his injunction on January 22.
Kramer is a founding member of Aerosmith, has been its drummer for 50 years, and is the one-fifth owner of stock and voting rights in the closely held corporations that comprise Aerosmith.
The other members of Aerosmith and corporate shareholders are Anthony Perry a/k/a Joe Perry, Steven Tallarico a/k/a Steven Tyler, Thomas Hamilton, and Bradley Whitford.
Court documents obtained by Grater state that in the spring of 2019, Kramer was unable to perform several concerts with Aerosmith, including shows that were part of the band’s residency at the MGM Resort in Las Vegas.
A temporary drummer, John Douglas, filled in for Kramer at Kramer’s expense “pursuant to the Agreement”.
The documents state that in the fall of 2019, Kramer expressed his desire to return to Aerosmith for the November and December run of the residency.
“However, in September, Kramer cancelled private sessions to record music with the band because he was ‘not mentally ready’.
“On October 20, 2019, Kramer left a voicemail for Aerosmith’s personal manager, Larry Rudolph, stating that he’d ‘like to wait a little bit longer before I do that’ (recording with tapes) and that ‘I am not ready to do it yet’.
“In an October 26, 2019 email to Kramer, Rudolph expressed the band’s excitement at Kramer’s return and their desire to help him succeed, but noted that the band needed evidence that he had the stamina, physical ability, and timing to perform a one week Las Vegas cycle.
“Counsel for the defendants, Attorney Jeffrey Smith, stated to Kramer that the other members of the band would not allow him to return until he demonstrated that he was able to play at an appropriate level.
“This standard does not appear in the Agreement and had never before been invoked in the band’s history.”
The band demanded that Kramer perform a series of solo rehearsals against a “click track,” a metronome used to keep time, after which the other band members would listen to the recordings and decide whether to allow Kramer’s return.
Kramer protested that the proposed solo rehearsals were not an effective measure of his ability to play and requested formal rehearsals with the rest of the band.
“However, Attorney Smith communicated the other members’ refusal to rehearse.
“Because he desires to participate in the MusiCares Gala and Grammy performances, Kramer performed recordings of himself playing the drums against ‘click tracks’ on January 8, 10 and 12, 2020.”
These recordings were forwarded to the other band members for their review.
In a January 13, 2020 email to Kramer’s attorneys, an attorney for the defendants suggested a January 15 conference call among all five band members to discuss and vote on the following issues: whether the click track recordings show that Kramer will perform at least as well as Douglas at MusicCares and the Grammys; whether there is sufficient time to rehearse with Kramer before those events; whether the click track recordings show that Kramer will perform at least as well as Douglas during the February leg of the Las Vegas residency, and whether there is sufficient time to rehearse with Kramer before or during that leg.
“The band members voted 4 (Perry, Tyler, Hamilton and Whitford) to 1 (Kramer) to prohibit Kramer from performing with Aerosmith at the MusiCares and Grammy performances and the upcoming Las Vegas residency.
“Aerosmith members Whitford, Hamilton, Perry and Tyler aver that they would have to rehearse with Kramer for seven to fourteen days to successfully play together at these events and have offered to rehearse with him in early May.
“Rudolph avers that Kramer cannot successfully return as the band’s drummer without significant rehearsals and there is no time for such rehearsals because the band has a rigorous schedule between January 20 and 27, 2020.
“Kramer has not played with the band since July 19, 2019, when he was unable to perform at a concert in Washington, DC because he could not move the foot used to play the peddle on the bass drum.
“Kramer had so many health issues between September and December that he did not attend any practices with the band and his wife said he was not emotionally ready to do so.
“Kramer entered a rehabilitation facility in November and December of 2019 but left against the recommendation of his addiction counselor.”
Kramer flew to Los Angeles hoping to participate in the band’s rehearsals beginning on January 20, but was turned away by security and was not allowed to rehearse.
“Aerosmith band members Whitford, Hamilton, Perry and Tyler aver that Kramer’s drum performance has been deficient for several years and that Aerosmith’s performance has been significantly improved by Douglas’s presence as the band’s drummer.
“The defendants have invited Kramer to participate in all photo sessions and media events at the MusiCares Gala and Grammy Awards.
“The defendants have expressed a willingness to allow Kramer to return to the residency performances in the Spring (sic), following an adequate opportunity for the band to rehearse.
“Given that Kramer has not played with the band in six months and the dearth of available rehearsal time before the upcoming performances, Kramer has not shown a realistic alternative course of action sufficient to protect the band’s business interests.”
According to the documents, paragraph 14 of the Employment Agreement allows the corporations to replace a band member who is temporarily incapacitated.
“The band member is still entitled to his compensation after deducting the cost of his replacement.
“Paragraph 3 of the August 4, 2011 Amendment similarly states that a temporarily disabled band member will receive his 20% of live performance income, minus the cost of his replacement.
“Paragraph 11 of this Amendment states that no member of Aerosmith can be terminated ‘without cause’…”
They also state that since the signing of the agreement, the band members have engaged in a course of conduct with respect to temporary absences, disabilities, or inability to perform live, including because of treatment for addiction and substance abuse.
“According to Kramer, the band member has been allowed to return to performing without having to audition or demonstrate fitness for the job, and without a vote of any kind.
“The band member simply has had to announce his desire and ability to return and has been allowed to do so.”