TORONTO – The latest Aerosmith video has already become an Internet sensation: a spry Steven Tyler follows up a performance of “Love in an Elevator” with a solo dance before a dizzying twirl causes him to tumble off the stage.
Tyler sustained shoulder, neck and head injuries after falling several feet during the South Dakota show and the band has had to postpone dates on its tour. Still, the grainy video of the incident had logged almost a million hits on YouTube by Monday, with most web commenters teasing the 61-year-old Tyler for the tumble.
However, the Aerosmith accident still lags behind Beyonce’s bring down. Footage of the diva’s onstage slip a few years back has drawn almost 5.5 million views, more than the official video of her recent single, “Diva.”
And one of the most-watched clips involving veteran actor Kelsey Grammer isn’t a “Cheers” highlight, but instead shows the 54-year-old pacing off the side of a stage during a speech at Disneyland. It has nearly 200,000 views and its own remix, with the “Frasier” theme song soundtracking the spill.
But if onstage topples are just a regular peril of performing, why does watching celebrities fall down inspire so much viral voyeurism?
“I think that people just enjoy seeing the misfortune of others,” MuchMusic VJ Leah Miller said Monday in a telephone interview. “Especially somebody like Beyonce, who’s this big, super-famous person. Seeing them fall – I guess it also makes them human.”
Miller can draw from personal experience. Years ago, she walked onstage following a live performance by the All-American Rejects on Much to thank the band and sign off. But she didn’t see that singer Tyson Ritter had tossed his microphone stand to the floor in a flamboyant “rock-star move.”
The stage was black, the mike stand was black, and Miller didn’t see it. She “tripped on it, then flew on it.” The inevitable YouTube clip has been viewed more than 100,000 times.
“I guess people always worry about falling – like I’m klutzy too, so you’d always be concerned with it – but I never actually thought it would happen like that, on a live TV show,” Miller said.
“And what do you do? You have to get up and continue. What else are you going to do?”
But while celeb stumbles provide a dose of schadenfreude for viewers, they can be quite serious for those involved.
You might call Tyler’s fall – and the ensuing media attention – a big break for Aerosmith, if not for the very real fracture (his shoulder) and the days of medical attention the singer received following the fall.
Toronto blues vet Donnie Walsh says he’s fallen off stages a few times over the course of his 40-year-plus career without suffering serious injury, but Chuck Jackson, singer for Walsh’s band, Downchild, wasn’t so lucky.
Walsh said that Jackson once jumped off a stool onstage and misjudged how much space he had to work with, plunging into the crowd below and “trashing his heel.”
Walsh himself gave his band a scare decades ago when he slipped on a carpeted stage in Niagara Falls, Ont. He slid down a set of stairs at the foot of the stage and when he hit the ground, he “just laid there.”
“My whole band came running down – they thought I was dead,” he recalled with a chuckle.
Meanwhile, Miller said she felt the effects of her stumble with some sore muscles a day after.
“It’s like when people are in a car accidents, but they don’t realize because they’re more in shock,” she said.
Still, Miller laughs about the incident, and says she doesn’t mind at all that it’s on YouTube.
Nate Donmoyer, drummer for Boston-based electronic outfit Passion Pit, was similarly good-natured about his first onstage spill, which happened last week during a performance at an Apple store in Chicago.
“The stage was really not well-supported – really flimsy,” said Donmoyer, whose band begins a three-date Canadian tour in support of their debut, “Manners,” with a show in Toronto on Tuesday.
“I kind of jump while I’m playing, jump and move my feet around, and I just kind of slid off the stage. I felt like I hit a new mark in playing where I actually jumped off the stage.
“At the time, I thought it was cool – to finally get so into it that I slid off the stage. It was kind of a new step forward for me.”
And, Donmoyer notes, he wasn’t the only one to fall victim to the “flimsy” stage. Vocalist Caroline Polachek from Brooklyn electronic outfit Chairlift stumbled sideways off the same stage during the same show.
“I think she took a step too far back and caught herself and it wasn’t too tragic, but she was really embarrassed,” Donmoyer said.
If she’s lucky no one was there to document it, but that’s an increasingly unlikely proposition.
In fact, these sorts of falls have long been a reality for entertainers, but the embarrassment wasn’t as enduring until cellphone cameras arrived to chronicle the pratfalls.
“Nowadays … you can’t do anything without someone documenting it,” Miller said.
Miller says she’s aware now of the possibility of falling while onstage, particularly since she finds herself running around in heels while hosting “So You Think You Can Dance Canada.”
But she says that ever-more elaborate set designs for TV shows and tours don’t exacerbate the problem much.
“I don’t think so, no,” she said. “I just think people are human, and you fall. Some people are more klutzy than others.
“Everybody falls, it’s just a normal human thing. If you slip, you slip.”
Steven Tyler: http://bit.ly/alktU
Kelsey Grammer: http://bit.ly/19Zlzw
Leah Miller: http://bit.ly/TMVmH