Aerosmith is one of the most iconic and beloved rock bands of all time. Originally formed in Boston in 1970, Aerosmith rose to fame in the 1970s with hits like “Dream On,” “Walk This Way,” and “Sweet Emotion.” The band is known for their blues-infused hard rock sound, outrageous live shows, and tumultuous interpersonal relationships.
One of Aerosmith’s most recognizable songs is “Pink,” a bluesy rock anthem that appeared on their 1997 album Nine Lives. With its catchy guitar riff and Steven Tyler’s unmistakable vocals, “Pink” became an instant radio hit and fan favorite. But when exactly did this smash single debut? Let’s take a closer look at the origins of “Pink” and the year it was released by the legendary rockers.
To understand when “Pink” emerged, we first need some background on Aerosmith itself. The band was formed in 1970 by Steven Tyler (vocals), Joe Perry (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass), Joey Kramer (drums), and Ray Tabano (guitar). After some early lineup changes, Brad Whitford joined as the permanent second guitarist in 1971. This core group led Aerosmith through their 1970s heyday.
After struggling to break through in their early years, Aerosmith achieved massive success with their third album Toys in the Attic in 1975. Powered by songs like “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion,” it cemented their status as America’s premier hard rock act. Over the next several years, Aerosmith released more hit albums like Rocks (1976) and Draw the Line (1977) as they rose to global fame.
Aerosmith’s Decline and Comeback
By the early 1980s, years of drug abuse and internal conflicts began tearing the band apart. Joe Perry left in 1979, and Brad Whitford followed in 1981. Albums like Done with Mirrors (1985) failed to match their earlier glory. However, a surprise collaboration with rappers Run-D.M.C. on a remake of “Walk This Way” sparked an Aerosmith resurgence.
Clean and sober, the original five members reunited in 1984. Their comeback album Permanent Vacation (1987) launched a major second wind for their careers. More successful projects like Pump (1989) and Get a Grip (1993) followed, along with a new legion of fans. Though not without more drama, Aerosmith rolled on as a revitalized hitmaking machine.
The Making of “Pink”
By the mid-1990s, Aerosmith was ready for their next chapter. In 1996, they headed to New York City to begin recording their twelfth studio album. Working again with established producers like Glen Ballard, they sought a modern edge while retaining their classic vibe.
Joe Perry brought in a guitar riff he had been tinkering with for a while. As the music came together, Steven Tyler penned provocative lyrics inspired by a romance with a young woman named Pink. Her youth and innocence contrasted intriguingly with his experience and wild rock star life.
The song “Pink” expanded on this theme. Tyler’s raw vocals told the story over Perry’s dirty, rolling guitar licks. The band fleshed out the arrangement with their signature swagger. Ballard polished the dynamics and textures to give it a contemporary sheen.
By early 1997, the album Nine Lives was complete with “Pink” slated as the lead single. On March 18, 1997, the full studio version premiered on radio. With its insinuating lyrics, growling guitars, and Tyler’s spine-tingling wail, it instantly shot up the charts.
Release and Reception
“Pink” was serviced to rock stations first, where it quickly garnered major airplay. As it gained exposure, the song crossed over to mainstream pop and adult contemporary formats as well. On April 12, 1997, Aerosmith officially released “Pink” as a commercial single.
The song peaked at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 and drove big sales of Nine Lives upon its release. The racy lyrics generated some controversy among critics, but audiences enthusiastically embraced the vintage Aerosmith swagger. “Pink” went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1998.
The memorable music video for “Pink” added to its popularity. Directed by Francis Lawrence, it depicted Tyler lusting after a beautiful young woman played by actress Mila Kunis. Scenes of the band performing were intercut with a storyline showing Tyler pursuing her through various erotic dream sequences.
Legacy and Influence
Today “Pink” remains one of Aerosmith’s most iconic and defining songs from their renaissance period. The provocative lyrics, Perry’s addictive guitar line, and Tyler’s impassioned delivery came together to make it a highlight of their catalog. In 2008, “Pink” was included on Aerosmith’s compilation album Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, exposing it to yet another generation.
The track is still a staple on rock radio, in Aerosmith’s live shows, and on compilations like O, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits. It distilled the band’s resurrected spirit and sound in the late 1990s into one unforgettable anthem. The year 1997 will forever be associated with this colorful hit that fueled Aerosmith’s unstoppable rock and roll machine.
In summary, the landmark Aerosmith single “Pink” was officially released in April 1997 as the lead track from their album Nine Lives. Its provocative lyrics about a young woman paired with the band’s dynamic rock and roll sound made it an instant smash. Nearly 25 years later, “Pink” remains one of the band’s most popular and enduring hits from their impressive catalog spanning over five decades. The song’s release in 1997 marked the peak of Aerosmith’s 1990s renaissance, showing their enduring ability to evolve with the times while staying true to their rock roots.
|1970||Aerosmith formed in Boston, MA|
|1975||Breakthrough album Toys in the Attic released|
|1979||Joe Perry leaves Aerosmith|
|1984||Original lineup reunites|
|1987||Comeback on album Permanent Vacation|
|1996||Recording of Nine Lives album begins|
|1997||“Pink” single released|