Run DMC Had Doubts About Working With Aerosmith On ‘Walk This Way,’ Rick Rubin Recalls

Bringing together artists from different genres can produce surprising results, as it did in the hip-hop band Run-DMC‘s unexpected collaboration with the rock band Aerosmith on the song, ‘Walk This Way.’ In a recent interview with BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs hosted by Lauren Laverne, the producer of the collaborative effort, Rick Rubin, shared the back story of how he convinced Run-DMC to perform a duet with Aerosmith.

“They were fine with the idea of the music being the music because the beat, the intro was a well-known hip-hop breakbeat,” said Rick Rubin, pointing out that Run-DMC was already familiar with the rhythm of ‘Walk This Way,’ so they were convinced about doing it at that point. “So you would hear that beat in hip-hop clubs already before we and Run-DMC ever did it. They had never heard of the song ‘Walk This Way.’ All they heard was the drum beat, and the drum beat was one that they were excited about performing on.”

Yet, it wouldn’t be easy to convince Run-DMC members about something else. Rubin disclosed, “And then I suggested, ‘Well, we’re gonna do the lyrics, the Aerosmith lyrics,’ and they thought it was insane, like ‘Why would we do that?’ But eventually they came around to doing it, and I think Russell was persuasive; Run was his brother, little brother. He was like, ‘Do what Rick says.’ It did what I hoped it would do in just explaining what rap music was to people who didn’t understand.”

So, when the Run-DMC founding member Josep ‘Run’ Simmons’ older brother Russell told him to agree with what Rick Rubin suggested, the band was eventually convinced to be involved in a project with Aerosmith. The track and the music video became one of the biggest hits of the 1980s, revived Aerosmith’s career, and brought hip-hop into the mainstream.

You can listen to the full interview and also the song below.