"Walk This Way" is a song by the American hard rock band Aerosmith. Written by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, the song was originally released as the second single from the 1975 album Toys in the Attic. It peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1977, part of a string of successful hit singles for the band in the 1970s. In addition to being one of the songs that helped break Aerosmith into the mainstream in the 1970s, it also helped revitalize their career in the 1980s when it was covered by rappers Run–D.M.C. on their 1986 album Raising Hell. This cover was a touchstone for the new musical subgenre of rap rock, or the melding of rock and hip hop. It became an international hit and won both groups a Soul Train Music Award for Best Rap – Single in 1987
hip hop group Run–D.M.C. performed a cover of "Walk This Way" with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry guesting on vocals and guitars. While working on Raising Hell, Rick Rubin pulled out Toys in the Attic (an album they freestyled over) and explained who Aerosmith were. While Joseph Simmons and Darryl McDaniels had no idea who Aerosmith were at that time, Rubin suggested remaking the song. Neither Simmons nor McDaniels liked the idea, though Jam Master Jay was open to it. Later, however, Run–D.M.C. covered the song. D.M.C. called it "a beautiful thing" in a trailer for Guitar Hero.
The 1986 version of the song is often credited as helping break hip hop music into mainstream pop music as it was the first hip hop song to hit the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the remake demonstrated how elements of hip hop music can be part of rock and pop songs, harking back to the DJing of Afrika Bambaataa, who would mix in tracks by the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Grand Funk Railroad among the more usual funk breaks. It also briefly samples the opening drum intro of the original in a middle section of the song. This version of "Walk This Way" charted higher on the Billboard Hot 100 than the original version, peaking at number 4. It was also one of the first big hip hop singles in the UK, reaching a peak of number 8 there.
The landmark collaboration catapulted Run–D.M.C. into mainstream stardom and would influence hip hop music for years to come. The song paved the way for other pop acts to introduce elements of hip hop into their music. It pioneered the trend of rhymed/sung collaborations that is so present on American Radio from the late 1990s and 2000s to the present. The collaboration also introduced a fusion of rock and hip hop, later known as rap rock, to a wide audience for the first time.
The song also marked a major comeback for Aerosmith, as they had been largely out of mainstream pop culture for several years while members were battling drug and alcohol addiction along with key members having left the band. Their 1985 comeback album, Done with Mirrors, had also flopped. Aerosmith followed up "Walk This Way" with a string of multi-platinum albums and Top 40 hits, starting with the album Permanent Vacation and single "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" in 1987. In 2008, "Walk This Way" was ranked number 4 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop". This version of the song is currently ranked as the 110th greatest song of all time, as well as the second best song of 1986, by Acclaimed Music.
The chorus of Run–D.M.C.'s cover contains a pitch alternation that Aerosmith themselves adapted in most future live performances. In collaborations, the other singer often says "talk this way" every alternate line of the chorus. This rap-style delivery may explain why the song worked so well as a hip hop song when it was covered eleven years later.
In the Run–D.M.C. cover, a turntable and drum machine are added in to reflect the additional hip hop influence on the record. Both the original Aerosmith version and the Run–D.M.C. cover (featuring Tyler and Perry) appear on various Aerosmith compilations as well as Run-D.M.C. albums.
The song is featured on the video game series Just Dance 2015.
The 1986 music video for "Walk This Way" symbolically placed a rock band and Run–D.M.C. in a musical duel in neighboring studios before Steven Tyler literally breaks through the wall that separates them. The video then segues to the bands' joint performance on stage. The highly popular video was the first hip hop hybrid video ever played in heavy rotation on MTV and is regarded as a classic of the medium. The video was directed by Jon Small and filmed at the Park Theater in Union City, New Jersey. The theater has remained largely unchanged since the video was filmed. Visitors may notice two holes in the ceiling toward the front of the stage where a light fixture was meant to be installed for the shoot.
Aside from Tyler and Perry, none of the other rock musicians in the video are the Aerosmith members; instead, they were played by Roger Lane, J. D. Malo, and Matt Stelutto—respectively rhythm guitarist, bassist, and drummer of the largely unknown hair metal outfit Smashed Gladys. According to VH1's Pop Up Video, Run–D.M.C. could not afford to use the entire Aerosmith band, just Tyler and Perry. As only Tyler and Perry had traveled to record the cover with Run–D.M.C., they were the only real Aerosmith members to appear in the video.
The guitar that Perry is playing is a Guild X-100 Bladerunner. The Guild X100 Bladerunner was originally developed and patented by David Newell and Andrew Desrosiers of David Andrew Guitars. The patent was licensed to Guild Guitars for 17 years and reverted to public domain in 2006. During initial manufacture, Newell and Desrosiers worked directly with Guild craftsman to develop the final product. The guitar used in this video was one of these early issues.