Thomas William “Tom” Hamilton (born December 31, 1951 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States) is an American musician, best known as the bassist for the hard rock band Aerosmith. He co-wrote two of Aerosmith’s hits, “Sweet Emotion” and “Janie’s Got a Gun”. Hamilton occasionally plays guitar (e.g. “Uncle Salty”) and sings backing vocals (e.g. “Love in an Elevator”).
Hamilton first started playing guitar when his older brother Scott taught him his first chords at age 12. Tom switched to bass when he was 14 to join a local band because they had an open space at that position. Hamilton was in a few bands with soon-to-be Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and David “Pudge” Scott. One of the bands was simply called “The Jam Band”. It was at a Jam Band gig in summer 1970 at a place called “The Barn” in Sunapee, New Hampshire, that the Jam Band met Steven Tyler, and the four of them agreed to move to Boston to start a band (not yet named Aerosmith). Scott left the group shortly thereafter, being replaced by Tyler on drums. The three became a power trio with Hamilton on bass, Perry on guitar, and Tyler on drums and vocals. Then Ray Tabano joined and eventually Joey Kramer joined (who coined the name “Aerosmith”) in replacing Tyler on drums so he could focus on vocals. Tabano was replaced by Brad Whitford and Aerosmith was born.
Thomas William Hamilton was born to George and Betty Hamilton in Colorado Springs, Colorado. George and Betty now live in Vero Beach, Florida. He has an older brother named Scott, an older sister named Perry, and a younger sister named Cecily. His father was in the Air Force and his mother was a housewife.
He first learned to play guitar from his brother, who got his first guitar when Tom was four years old. Hamilton is the tallest member of the band at 6’1″. He is also the “funny one” of Aerosmith, always looking for chances to make jokes in interviews and also being one of the bigger talkers at interviews.According to the band’s official website, Hamilton’s favorite song by the band is “The Farm” (from the 1997 album Nine Lives). He married Terry Cohen in 1975 and they have two children, Julian and Sage.
In August 2006, he announced that he was diagnosed with throat and tongue cancer and completed a seven-week course of radiation and chemotherapy. He was forced to miss Aerosmith’s Route of All Evil Tour. David Hull (who has played in The Joe Perry Project) filled in for Hamilton. Hamilton had never previously missed an Aerosmith show. He joined the band for the performance of “Sweet Emotion” at their Boston show in September 2006, and at the private show at the Beacon Theatre in New York, on December 3, 2006, where he reclaimed his place with the band for the entire performance. On December 20, 2006, Hamilton reported on Aero Force One that he is cancer-free after a recent PET scan. He is currently undergoing surgery, the reason being from the radiation he went through due to his throat cancer, so he was not playing some of the Aerosmith/ZZ Top Tour and again, was replaced by David Hull during that time. Hamilton’s cancer returned in 2011, and he has since been treated and is recovering well
In April 2013, Hamilton was forced to retire from the band’s tour in Australia for health reasons. He returned to the USA after contracting an infection in the chest region. David Hull, who has replaced Hamilton in other tours of Aerosmith, took his place.
Early in 2016, Hamilton was also announced as the new bassist for Thin Lizzy and will play with them on upcoming reunion shows.
Hamilton has stated that his favorite bassists are John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, John Entwistle of The Who, and Paul McCartney of The Beatles.
Aerosmith songs written
The following Aerosmith songs have a writing credit given to Tom Hamilton
- “Sweet Emotion” from Toys in the Attic
- “Uncle Salty” from Toys in the Attic
- “Sick as a Dog” from Rocks
- “Critical Mass” from Draw the Line
- “Kings and Queens” from Draw the Line
- “The Hand That Feeds” from Draw the Line
- “The Reason a Dog” from Done with Mirrors
- “The Hop” from Done with Mirrors
- “Janie’s Got a Gun” from Pump
- “The Movie” from Permanent Vacation
- “Krawhitham” from Pandora’s Box
- “Beautiful” from Music From Another Dimension!
- “Tell Me” from Music From Another Dimension!
- “Lover Alot” from Music From Another Dimension!
- “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” from Music From Another Dimension!
- “Up on the Mountain” from Music From Another Dimension! (Deluxe Version) [Also provides lead vocals]
- 2007 – Boston Music Award – Personal Achievement
Hamilton has used a wide variety of bass guitars over Aerosmith’s career. He has stated in several interviews that his first bass was a Fender Precision that he borrowed and later bought from a friend. During the early years of Aerosmith and the time after their reformation he often used a Music Man bass, a Fender Precision Bass, a Fender Jazz Bass, or a Gibson Thunderbird. During the “Dude Looks Like A Lady” sequence of Wayne’s World 2, he is seen playing a Gibson Les Paul Bass. However, during the making of Just Push Play he called upon a Hofner Violin Bass or a double bass during many of the recording sessions. Recently he has favored a modified ’51 Fender Precision Bass with double pickups instead of one for the recording of Honkin’ On Bobo and the subsequent tours following the album’s creation. It is known that he also uses Parker basses, since he appeared playing this bass in Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, though he was seen playing one at the 2004 concert in Japan. As of June 2009 he was touring with five Sadowsky basses in addition to others. Hamilton has been playing G&L ASAT Basses for nearly twenty years since he bought his first blue metal flake ASAT Bass at 48th Street Custom Guitars in New York City. Since then, G&L has built several more ASAT Basses in a variety of finishes, but there’s something about G&L’s over-the-top metal flake finishes that keeps him coming back for more. He has a signature G&L ASAT Bass model. He discusses his signature basses in rig rundowns most notably in 2012 on the Global Warming tour