Hard Rock Music
The song was written by band members Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. The lyrics are direct about young, well, walking experiences without being graphic so the song could be played on the radio. It all starts with a little kiss, as it were. The song was released on Aerosmith’s’ 1975 album Toys in the Attic and as a single and then re-issued in 1976 after Aerosmith’s album Rocks took off. And in 1976-77, it rose to #7 in Canada and #10 on the U.S. billboard Hot 100. This helped bring Aerosmith into the mainstream in the 1970s.
But wait, that’s not the end of the story. In 1986, the hip hop group Run-D.MC. performed a cover of the song with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. It was on their album Raising Hell and also released as a single. There was a new vocal by Tyler and guitar work by Perry, based on their 1975 recording, plus a sample of the original drum intro. This fortuitous cover became an international hit, boosted Aerosmith’s career, and brought rap into the mainstream. The Run-D.M.C. version charted in the Top 10 in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, Belgium, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland. It was in the Top 20 in Germany, Ireland, and Italy. There have been successfully charting covers by String Cheese and the Sugababes and Girls Aloud collaboration.
There are different stories about the inspiration for the song. Part of it from their own walking experiences. Joe Perry developed the guitar riff and the band developed the track. At the time, Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein was playing. The film has a scene where Igor, played by Marty Feldman, tells Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) to follow him and “walk this way.” It’s an old vaudeville gag, and Dr. Frankenstein imitates Igor’s eccentric walk. The band thought it was funny. Tyler says that the title came from watching The Three Stooges on TV, and they had “walk this way” routines.
Of note, Joe Perry used a talk box on his guitar, which allows a guitarist to make vocal sounds by talking into a vinyl tube. It is one of the first times this device was used in a hit song. There followed many others to talk this way…
On the Toys in the Attic album were Steven Tyler (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion, harmonica, piano), Joe Perry (guitar, backing vocals, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, talk box), Brad Whitford (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass, rhythm guitar), and Joe Kramer (drums , percussion). Aerosmith continues to tour and perform internationally.