How Desmond Child Saved Aerosmith’s ‘Dude (Looks Like a Lady)’
Award-winning songwriter Desmond Child recalled how he helped turn Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” into a hit.
He’d been brought in to help the band make its 1987 album Permanent Vacation, and although singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry didn't want his input, they turned the situation toward a favorable result.
“It was Steven who came up with the title ‘Dude (Looks Like a Lady),'” Child told Celebrity Access in a recent interview. “But he had turned it into ‘Cruisin’ for the Ladies’ because they thought that ‘Dude (Looks Like a Lady)’ would be offensive to the gay community. I said, ‘I’m gay. It’s not offensive. It’s great.’ And I convinced them to go down that path.”
He continued: “We basically told the story that he had told me … he had gone into a club and saw this gorgeous creature at the end of the bar with teased-up platinum mullet and black nails and porcelain skin and jewelry and with a curvy waist. Then the creature turns around, and it’s Vince Neil of Motley Crue. Then they were like, ‘My God, that dude looks like a lady.’”
Watch Aerosmith's 'Dude (Looks Like a Lady)' Video
Child went on to reflect that being gay made it difficult to move into production, which is where he wanted his career to go. “It’s okay, maybe, cowriting because that is an equal position,” he said. "But when you are the producer, you are the boss, and hetero bands were not ready then for a gay guy to be the boss. … They would never give me a band to produce. Eventually what happened is that people wanted the hits, though. So, then I would say, ‘Okay, then I have to produce.’ Then what they did is that they gave me the kind of weirdos.
“They gave me Ronnie Spector, and then I got Jennifer Rush, and then I got Joan Jett. Then there was Alice Cooper, Meat Loaf and Cher. All of these icons that were kind of androgynous, and very LGBT friendly. … I spent a decade producing solo artists and having success with them, and then eventually, eventually, I was asked to work with Ratt.”
Due to other commitments, Child had to pass on producing the band's 1999 album Detonator to his assistant, Arthur Payson. But, he noted, "we had a great album. Then I got the opportunity to produce the Scorpions [on their 2007 LP, Humanity: Hour 1]. That was the first band that I produced.”