Published by Cel Manero from Global One Media, Inc.
Desmond Child, the songwriter known for his Midas touch with mega-hits for artists like Kiss, Bon Jovi, and Aerosmith, sees “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” as a song about acceptance.
Desmond Child, a prolific songwriter behind some of the biggest hits in hard rock history, including classics like Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name,” Alice Cooper’s “Poison,” Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” and Kiss’ “I Was Made For Loving You,” believes that “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” the 1987 global hit he co-wrote with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, can be seen as an early trans anthem.
Child shared his perspective on the song in a recent interview with The Guardian. The original genesis of the song was based on a Steven Tyler lyric that began with the line “Cruisin’ for a lady” and was inspired by the sight of Motley Crue’s Vince Neil on the prowl on the Sunset Strip. However, Child now sees it as a song about acceptance and inclusivity.
Joe Perry, in a 2016 interview with Classic Rock, confirmed the inspiration behind the song “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).” While Mötley Crüe’s presence did play a role in the song’s creation, it wasn’t the sole inspiration. Steven Tyler saw Mötley Crüe in action, and the lyric “Cruisin’ for a lady” emerged after that experience. It served as a starting point, pushing the lyrics of the song forward, although it wasn’t the only influence.
In the same interview, Joe Perry revealed that Aerosmith was initially hesitant to collaborate with Desmond Child, stating, “We fought it all the way, but once we got to know Desmond, it worked.” Desmond Child now believes that the lyrics of “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” reflect the open-minded attitude that the band eventually adopted in accepting him into their fold.
“When Steven Tyler sings, ‘Never judge a book by the cover or who you’re gonna love by your lover,’ it was opening people’s minds because it was a very conservative time,” Child noted. He further commented on contemporary issues, stating that some individuals are trying to stoke fear about trans people, much like the way antisemitism is propagated. This is done through the implantation of irrational fears that generate hatred, leading people to support candidates who harbor such prejudices.
Child, who is openly gay, explained that he rarely encountered homophobia from hard rock artists. He humorously mentioned that while the musicians were away at their Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or similar activities, he would engage in conversations with their wives. By the time the musicians returned, he would have rearranged their furniture and rehung their paintings, presenting no threat to their status, much like a palace eunuch. He is releasing a memoir about his remarkable life titled “Livin’ on a Prayer: Big Songs Big Life,” published by Radius, on November 2.