Aerosmith will be honored at the Grammys this Sunday as 2020’s MusiCares Person Of The Year, never mind that they comprise multiple persons. One of those persons, drummer Joey Kramer, says his bandmates are preventing him from taking part in the festivities.
MusiCares is the Grammys’ charitable arm. Every year, the organization presents its Person Of The Year award to an artist for their “considerable philanthropic efforts.” To commemorate the award, Aerosmith are performing with Run-DMC and Charlie Wilson on the Grammys broadcast Sunday night. Before that, there will be a whole separate Aerosmith tribute event this Friday hosted by Russell Brand, with performances from Melissa Etheridge, Nuno Bettencourt, Jessie J, Kesha, Cheap Trick, Gary Clark Jr., Alice Cooper, Gavin DeGraw, Johnny Depp, Foo Fighters, Luis Fonsi, Sammy Hagar, H.E.R., Jonas Brothers, Emily King, John Legend, John Mayer, Ashley McBryde, LeAnn Rimes, and Yola, all overseen by musical director Greg Phillinganes.
Kramer, who has been in the band since it formed in 1970, will not be involved with any of this. TMZ reports that Kramer is suing his bandmates for preventing his return to the group after going on disability leave for what he calls “minor injuries” last spring. According to the lawsuit, Kramer was ready to return for the band’s fall Las Vegas residency shows, but his bandmates asked him to audition to a click track to prove he was “able to play at an appropriate level.” Kramer also claims the stress from this request caused “significant repercussions” that put him back in the hospital and forced him to miss the residency shows. Aerosmith allegedly required Kramer to pay his replacement $20k per week for performances and $10k per week for rehearsals.
Early this month Kramer finally went through with the click-track audition. He believes his performance was acceptable, but he says his bandmates have blocked him from rejoining them, citing a lack of “energy” in the recordings of his audition. He’s asking the court to force Aerosmith to let him back in the band in order to avoid “irreparable harm.”
Kramer, who is also a coffee entrepreneur, publicly diverged from his bandmates over political matters in 2016. At the time, after Steven Tyler and Joe Perry hung out with President Obama on Air Force One, Kramer, a Donald Trump supporter, tweeted that the photo was “not representative of Aerosmith.”
We’ve reached out to representatives from Aerosmith for comment on Kramer’s lawsuit.
UPDATE: Aerosmith members Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, and Tom Hamilton provided this statement to Stereogum:
Joey Kramer is our brother; his wellbeing is of paramount importance to us. However he has not been emotionally and physically able to perform with the band, by his own admission, for the last 6 months. We have missed him and have encouraged him to rejoin us to play many times but apparently he has not felt ready to do so. Joey has now waited until the last moment to accept our invitation, when we unfortunately have no time for necessary rehearsals during Grammys week. We would be doing a disservice to him, to ourselves and to our fans to have him play without adequate time to prepare and rehearse. Compounding this, he chose to file a lawsuit on the Friday night of the holiday weekend preceding the Grammys with total disregard for what is our limited window to prepare to perform these important events. Given his decisions he is unfortunately unable to perform but of course we have invited him to be with us for both the Grammys and our MusiCares honor. We are bonded together by much more than our time on stage.
UPDATE 2: As TMZ reports, a judge has sided with Aerosmith in Kramer’s lawsuit, writing, “Given that Kramer has not played with the band in 6 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.” Thus, Aerosmith will perform without Kramer at the Grammys.
The other day, Kramer showed up to rehearsal and the band wouldn’t let him in the building. TMZ has video: