Tom Hamilton (musician)

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Tom Hamilton
Hamilton with Aerosmith in 2010
Hamilton with Aerosmith in 2010
Background information
Birth nameThomas William Hamilton
Born (1951-12-31) December 31, 1951 (age 69)
Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.
  • Musician
  • songwriter
InstrumentsBass guitar
Years active1970–present
Associated acts

Thomas William Hamilton (born December 31, 1951) is an American musician, best known as the bassist for the hard rock band Aerosmith. He has regularly co-written songs for Aerosmith, including two of the band's biggest hits: "Sweet Emotion" (1975) and "Janie's Got a Gun" (1989). Hamilton occasionally plays guitar (e.g. "Uncle Salty”, “Sick as a Dog"),[1] sings backing vocals (e.g. "Love in an Elevator") and on rare occasions, lead vocals ("Up On the Mountain").[2]

Early years[edit]

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 received his first guitar when Tom was four years old. 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.

Personal life[edit]

Hamilton performing with Aerosmith on the Blue Army Tour in Grand Rapids, Michigan on August 4, 2015

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.[3][4]

In August 2006, he announced that he was diagnosed with throat and tongue cancer and completed a seven-week course of radiation and chemotherapy. As a result, he missed Aerosmith's Route of All Evil Tour. David Hull (who played in the Joe Perry Project) filled in. Prior to this, Hamilton had never missed an Aerosmith show. He sat in with the band on "Sweet Emotion" at their September 2006 Boston show and played an entire performance at a private show at the Beacon Theatre in New York, on December 3, 2006. On December 20, 2006, Hamilton reported on Aero Force One that he is cancer-free after a recent PET scan. He underwent further surgery, causing him to sit out some of the Aerosmith/ZZ Top Tour. David Hull covered for him again during his absence.[5] His cancer returned in 2011, but he is now cancer-free.[6]

Hamilton left the band's April 2013 Australian tour after two shows due to a chest infection. David Hull was flown in from the US to fill in.[7]

In April 2016, Thin Lizzy announced that Hamilton was joining them for their 2016 and 2017 reunion shows.[8]

Hamilton's favorite bassists are John Paul Jones, John Entwistle and Paul McCartney.[9]

Aerosmith songs written[edit]

The following Aerosmith songs have a writing credit given to Tom Hamilton

  1. "Sweet Emotion" from Toys in the Attic
  2. "Uncle Salty" from Toys in the Attic
  3. "Sick as a Dog" from Rocks
  4. "Critical Mass" from Draw the Line
  5. "Kings and Queens" from Draw the Line
  6. "The Hand That Feeds" from Draw the Line
  7. "The Reason a Dog" from Done with Mirrors
  8. "The Hop" from Done with Mirrors
  9. "Janie's Got a Gun" from Pump
  10. "The Movie" from Permanent Vacation
  11. "Krawhitham" from Pandora's Box
  12. "Beautiful" from Music From Another Dimension!
  13. "Tell Me" from Music From Another Dimension!
  14. "Lover Alot" from Music From Another Dimension!
  15. "Can't Stop Lovin' You" from Music From Another Dimension!
  16. "Up on the Mountain" from Music From Another Dimension! (Deluxe Version) [Also provides lead vocals]


  • 2007 – Boston Music Award – Personal Achievement[10]


Hamilton has used a wide variety of basses 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. He would use a Fender Precision Bass in the early years of Aerosmith.

Tom Hamilton is a heavy user of G&L basses, and they have been his go to basses since the dawn of the 21st century. He has been playing G&L basses since he purchased his first metal-flake ASAT Bass around twenty years ago at 48th Street Guitars in New York City. He now has his own G&L ASAT Bass signature model, which is made from a special reduced-weight Western Sugar Pine body. It also comes with specially developed "Hamiltone" pickups and is available for sale in three different metal flake colors. Tom says that he enjoys his G&L basses as they are an evolution of the Fender Jazz Bass sound and feel.[11]

Tom Hamilton is a fan of the Fender Jazz Bass. Tom has said that he enjoys their unique sound as well as the feel of the slender Jazz Bass neck. He owns a stacked-knob early 1960's Fender Jazz Bass which was used to record the basslines for "Sweet Emotion" and "Walk This Way." It was also used to record the rest of Toys in the Attic and the album Rocks. Though he rarely tours with a Jazz Bass anymore, bandmate Steven Tyler surprised Hamilton with a custom-shop Fender Jazz Bass while at a music store in Vancouver, Canada in 2011. This bass was used to record most of the songs on Music From Another Dimension!, and Tom can be seen playing this bass in clips where the band was working on the album.[12]

Tom Hamilton was one of the earliest and largest users of the Music Man StingRay Bass. He first used a StingRay Bass to record the album Draw the Line in 1977.[13] Since then, he used a StingRay Bass to record the albums Permanent Vacation, Pump, Nine Lives, and some of Just Push Play. Tom toured heavily with StingRay basses throughout the late 1970s, and once again in 2004 on the Honkin' on Bobo Tour. In an interview, Tom Hamilton noted that he was very proud of the tone he got from his early model StingRay Bass on the Pump album.[14]

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Tom can be seen playing a Gibson Thunderbird Bass on tour.

On the album Night in the Ruts, Tom Hamilton used a Music Man Sabre Bass to record his basslines. He can be seen playing one in the music videos for "No Surprize"[15] and "Chiquita."[16]

Tom Hamilton would return to using a Fender Precision Bass on the Rock in a Hard Place and Done With Mirrors albums. He can be seen playing one in the music video for "Lightning Strikes."[17]

For the Get a Grip album, Tom Hamilton recorded his basslines with an F Bass, which he bought during the album sessions in 1992.[18]

During the "Dude Looks Like A Lady" sequence of Wayne's World 2, he is seen playing a Gibson Les Paul Bass. Tom occasionally used this bass on the 1993-94 Get a Grip Tour.

Tom has also used a Höfner Violin Bass to record some of the Just Push Play album, but most notably he used one to record the song What It Takes.[19] He can be seen playing one in the music video for the song "Jaded."[20] During the Just Push Play sessions, he also used a double bass.

For the recording of the album Honkin' On Bobo and the following tours, he has used a butterscotch Sadowsky '51 Fender Precision Bass replica modified with a second pickup. This bass has been one of his main basses since.

It is known that he also uses Parker basses. Tom was gifted one of the only prototype Parker Fly basses in 2002-2003, which he donated to VH1's Save the Music charity; which raised funds for schools with poor music programs. Tom had heavily played the bass for six months prior on the 2003 Rocksimus Maximus Tour, and it was signed by all five members of Aerosmith as well as the manufacturer. He was also gifted the first production Parker Fly Bass in April 2003. He appeared playing one in Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, and used one heavily on the 2004 Honkin' On Bobo Tour.[21]

As of June 2009 he was touring with five Sadowsky basses, including some 5-string versions.[22]

He discusses his signature basses in rig rundowns most notably in 2012 on the Global Warming Tour.[23]


  1. ^ Toys in the Attic 1993 Remastered Liner Notes
  2. ^ Big Ones Liner Notes
  3. ^ "Tom Hamilton Biography Aerosmith". Aerosmith Fans. December 3, 2006. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  4. ^ Newman, Melinda (August 12, 2009). "Ten Minutes With... Aerosmiths Tom Hamilton". Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  5. ^ "Aerosmith Health Report – Bassist Tom Hamilton Sitting Out Shows | Pollstar – The Concert Hotwire". Pollstar. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Tom Hamilton Ill, Departs Aerosmith Australian Tour |". The Noise Network. April 29, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  8. ^ "Tom Hamilton Joins Thin Lizzy | No Treble". No Treble. April 29, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  9. ^ Aerosmith (June 2, 2011). "Tom Hamilton: Favorite Bass Players". Retrieved April 23, 2018 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ "Tom Wins Personal Achievement Award at BMA's | Aerosmith News". AeroForceOne. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  11. ^ "ASAT Bass Tom Hamilton Signature Model". G&L Guitars. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  12. ^ "Aerosmith Bassist Tom Hamilton: Time Traveler by Rick Suchow: Bass Musician Magazine November 2012". Bass Musician Magazine. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  13. ^ "Aerosmith's Tom Hamilton: "Tom Hamilton's Music Man Stingray Bass"". Equipboard. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  14. ^ "Aerosmith's Tom Hamilton: "I think that nowadays we've all become a little better at having respect for each other's soft spots"". Music Radar. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  15. ^ "Aerosmith - No Surprize". Retrieved May 9, 2021 – via YouTube.
  16. ^ "Aerosmith - Chiquita (Official Video)". Retrieved May 9, 2021 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ "Aerosmith - Lightning Strikes (Official Video)". Retrieved May 9, 2021 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ "F-bass tone". Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  19. ^ "Aerosmith: Tom Hamilton Interview 2019 – Talks Bass, Vegas Residency, Old School". Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  20. ^ "Aerosmith - Jaded (Official HD Video)". Retrieved May 9, 2021 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ "Aerosmith's Tom Hamilton Donates signed Parker Fly Bass for VH-1's "Save the Music" (2003)". Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  22. ^ "Sadowsky Guitars | Artist News". Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  23. ^ TC Electronic (November 23, 2012), Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) Gear run, retrieved December 8, 2016

External links[edit]