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Aerosmith's 'Sixth Member' Takes Center Stage

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Imagine being able to rock a piano so well that Aerosmith wants you as its touring keyboardist. That's what happened to Russ Irwin, and he's been sharing the stage with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry for 15 years.

"I'm staring at their backsides," he tells NPR's David Greene. "It's an interesting place to be."

Irwin's had an onstage view of more than a few famous rear ends; besides Aerosmith, he's played behind Sting and Bryan Adams and written songs for Meat Loaf and Foreigner.

Now the singer and pianist says he's ready take center stage. This year, he released a new album called Get Me Home. Irwin wrote all the songs, but he says he was happy to let friends like Steven Tyler lend their voices to a few tracks, like the rollicking piano jam "Crazy Too."

"We literally were in my car, just listening to stuff," Irwin says. "[Tyler] heard this groove and he goes, 'Wow, I want to sing on that! Let me know when you've got that together.' "

Though he's got a little star power behind him, Irwin says he's not too stressed about living up to it.

"I haven't really thought about any of the pressures," he says. "To me, it's just something that I'm doing that's really cool. I don't have any grandiose expectations that I've set for myself. I'm just seeing where it's taking me."

In the full version of this interview, Russ Irwin performs selections from Get Me Home, as well as some of the songs he's written from his rock star friends. Click the audio link on this page to hear more.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

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