Tyler tells Lauer: "I needed that cocaine"

Tyler tells Lauer: "I needed that cocaine"

Steven Tylers journey from Aerosmith frontman to American Idol judge has given him enough stories for several lifetimes. In a candid interview with Matt Lauer, set to air Sunday, May 1 on Dateline and on Monday, May 2 on TODAY, Tyler tells many of them, discussing his musical journey as well as overcoming his own drug use and how it affected his family life.

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Updated 33 minutes ago

4/27/2011 4:41:35 PM +00:00

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Tyler rose to stardom with Aerosmith, one of the top bands of the 1970s that enjoyed a robust second act starting in 1984. What the band did, both on and off the stage, has become the stuff of legend.

But that second act, which helped the band earn induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, nearly didnt happen. As Tyler tells Lauer in the interview, pervasive drug use, including budgeting for cocaine in the band”s touring contracts, lead to the breakdown of the band in 1979.

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“There”s three things that happen to you when you”re addicted to drugs after they take hold, is death, jail and insanity,” Tyler said in the interview. “And I can”t preach that enough. The only reason I wind up in rehab is because I used to the point of falling down. My kids tell me, “Daddy, I don”t know who you are anymore.” Wives leave, bands break up, and it”s really a one-way street. I still liked the ride, but it”s a one-way street.”

When asked if there was anyone who ever questioned his drug use, Tyler was emphatic: “Absolutely not.

“No. 1, it was the thing to do in the “70s And by the way, bands like Aerosmith, if you looked at the “70s, how many albums we did, how many songs and how many territories, you know, we conquered, you know, we were troubadours going from town to town, state to state,” Tyler said. “We had no MTV or anything. We would play for Mahavishnu Orchestra. Anybody to open up and get our songs heard. And in doing so, in playing three shows in a row, I needed blow. I needed that cocaine. I needed that I needed it.

Tyler to talk with Matt Lauer on Sunday and Monday

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“How did we get through It”s a little funny now, but if you look back at history, managers didn”t care,” Tyler said. “They were glad we were makin” “em all money. And they may get angry at that, but it was also a thing to do, I can give it up at that.”

Tyler became the father of two daughters during that era, actress Liv Tyler (with fashion model Bebe Buell) and model Mia Tyler (with Cyrinda Foxe). After admittedly not being a great father to them in their childhood, hes tried to make up for it since.

That”s what drugs did. That”s what it did. On one hand, it can put you in a place you”ve never been, so you can use that experience, and on the other hand, for me, I rode it like a gypsy rode a horse. And it took my children away, it took my life away, it took my band away, took my marriages away, and I was on my knees, Tyler said.

Now, Tyler is reaching a new generation as one of three American Idol judges, along with Randy Jackson and fellow newcomer Jennifer Lopez. Many wondered what he would bring to the table, besides the dose of credibility that his own musical journey provides.

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In addition to being the funniest of the three judges and the one who can ground everyone else when they get too pretentious, hes been instrumental in the new attitude surrounding the show this season. Its been a kinder and gentler crew than the one characterized by the biting sarcasm of Simon Cowell, and from Tylers perspective thats no accident.

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I got three daughters, so I can”t sit there and say, “you can”t sing, what did you come here for” Tyler said, of the attitude hes had since the auditions. I don”t want to be Steven Tyler, the one they all look up to and tell them they can”t sing and for whatever reason that girl leaves there and doesn”t sing to her child because I told her she can”t sing. That kills me inside.

And while Lopez is on a one-year contract, Tyler doesnt sound like someone looking to leave anytime soon.

It”s not a show about who can sing best. I mean, I told the producers, that”s not it. That can”t be it for me. Because, there are so many stars out there right now, but they”re not the best singers,” Tyler said. “But they sure got character. And I like to say that, you know, as this was established early on, it”s what I love about J. Lo and Randy. It”s the whole package.

Craig Berman is a TODAY.com”s “American Idol” correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @CraigBerman as he live tweets each episode.

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