Aerosmith had to play without drummer Joey Kramer for a period last year while he dealt with assorted injuries, but now the drummer claims the band is not allowing him back in the fold. TMZ is reporting that Kramer has taken legal action in order to pave the way for his return, hopefully to join his bandmates at the Grammys.

According to the TMZ report, Kramer feels the band is going against their precedent by not allowing him back in the group after a period of disability. He claims that after missing the spring shows, he was ready to return for the band's fall tour dates, but rather than being welcomed back, he was asked to prove that he was "able to play at an appropriate level."

The drummer stated that he was asked to perform a series of solo rehearsals, playing to a "click track," and that the band would make the decision on whether or not he could return. As a result, Kramer feels that the stress from the ordeal has had "significant repercussions" to his health, which led to a November hospital stay.

According to the report, Kramer says he paid the band's fill-in drummer $20K a week for his performances and $10K a week for rehearsals.

The drummer says that he eventually gave in to the demand to audition in January, but was told by the group that he would not be able to rejoin. As a result, he will be absent from the band's upcoming events, including their upcoming Grammy Awards performance and their forthcoming residency tour dates, unless his legal action proves successful.

He's reportedly seeking a court order so that he may return to the band. Meanwhile, an update to the TMZ reports cites sources close to the group as stating that the door is open for Kramer to return in the coming months so long as his drumming skills return to their full potential.

Update: Joey Kramer has now issued a statement about his lawsuit. It reads as follows:

Ever since I was 14 years old, I had a set of drumsticks in my hand and a passion to create music. Being prohibited from playing with a band that I have given 50 years of my life to supporting, is beyond devastating.

This is not about money. I am being deprived of the opportunity to be recognized along with my peers, for our collective, lifetime contributions to the music industry. Neither the MusiCares’ Person of the Year Award nor the Grammys’ Lifetime Achievement honors can ever be repeated.

The fact that I would be asked to audition for my own job, demonstrate that I can play at ‘an appropriate level’ and play better than my temporary fill-in with a moving target of made-up standards is both insulting and upsetting. Other band members and their lawyers will likely attempt to disparage my playing and claim that I am unable to play the drums right now. Nothing could be further from the truth. I did everything they asked – jumped through hoops and made both a recording of playing along solo to a recent live recording of the band – one I had never heard before, and that process was videotaped. But I did it, and I did it well. In Aerosmith’s 50-year history, no other band member has ever been subjected to this scrutiny let alone be asked to audition for his own job!

I hope our fans can understand that all I’m trying to do is get back to playing with the band that they love – and that’s Aerosmith with all five original members. The greatest magic and success of Aerosmith happens when all the band’s founding members are together in the house. To be removed from my rightful place on stage to celebrate our success – a success that acknowledges my own life’s work, is just plain wrong.

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