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Russ Irwin is unofficial sixth member of Aerosmith

Aerosmith's touring keyboardist is ready to step out on his own.
BY GENE TRIPLETT Modified: November 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm •  Published: November 7, 2012

They call him the “sixth member” of Aerosmith because he's been the Boston-based band's touring keyboardist for more than a decade.

Or, as Russ Irwin likes to put it, he's been “looking at Steven Tyler's (derriere) for 15 years.”

Irwin is a New York-born singer-songwriter and producer who's also worked with a stellar list of other artists, including Sting, Clay Aiken, Bryan Adams and Duncan Shiek, to name but a few.

He'll be onstage with Aerosmith when the band kicks off the next leg of its “Global Warming Tour” Thursday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.

But when the tour is over, Irwin is primed to focus on his own solo career — which has been on hold since a false start in 1991. That was the year his self-titled debut album was released. His sophomore effort, “Get Me Home,” was just released in May.

So, what took so long to get that follow-up out?

“Well, I was signed to a record deal when I was 20 years old, and the record that was made then was sort of put through the big machine,” Irwin said last week in a phone interview from New York City.

“The big machine” he was referring to was the corporate record label to which he was obligated, SBK/EMI. Irwin's eponymous album was produced by Phil Ramone (Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Billy Joel) and its first single, “My Heart Belongs to You,” actually made it into the Top 40.

But Irwin wasn't happy with the sound that resulted from the way they'd over-processed his music in the studio.

“(The album) didn't turn out in the best way that represented me, I felt. And after that I went off and did different things. You know, writing with different people and touring and producing, and I actually never stopped recording my own music and writing my own music.

“But I also never made a fully completed album of 10 songs,” he said.

“I did a couple of EPs and stuff, but this is the first time where I really, like, started with a blank slate and went in open to creating something from scratch, completely new, and really doing what I always wanted to do, which was make a piano record and a singer-songwriter record that really represented me as an artist.”

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