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Steven Tyler

It’s been 30 years since Aerosmith recorded “Janie’s Got a Gun”

For a band not known for tackling social issues, they went all in with this song about sexual abuse, rape, incest, victim blaming and murder.

The song would earn Aerosmith its first ever Grammy Award and  now, all these years later, the band was back together on Grammy night in Los Angeles — not to celebrate their success, but the power of a song which has made, and is making, a real difference in so many lives.

Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Janie’s Fund

Frontman Steven Tyler wrote the lyrics. His inspiration was a magazine story about parental child abuse — an issue rarely discussed and almost neglected at the time.

But Tyler always wanted to do more beyond this one song. So from “Janie’s Got a Gun” came Janie’s Fund — a charity for abused and neglected children.

And just like they did in 2018, on Sunday night, Tyler, Aerosmith and some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry raised some serious cash for his charity — $2.8 million dollars.

“One in five girls are sexually abused before they are 18-years-old,” Tyler told attendees at his Grammys watch party. “That means mentally, physically and emotionally, as well. But experts confirm that the abuse is vastly under-reported. So it’s likely many, many more children are harmed in this way.”

The star-studded gala is a long way from when Tyler started the foundation in 2015 with $500,000 of his own cash.

But at age 70, one of the hardest living rock ‘n roll stars of a generation says he has finally found what’s good for his heart and good for his soul.

steven tyler with girls

Tyler cut the scarf on his second Janie’s House in Tennessee on February 4, 2019. It will accommodate up to 14 girls at a time — all victims of abuse and neglect.

Here, they’ll go to school, receive counseling and deal with the kind of trauma most could never imagine.

“Here I am 70 and this kind of stuff is still happening to me, it’s God,” Tyler said at the ceremony pointing to the heavens. “Just when the world feels over, you can turn into a butterfly.”

Janie’s House grew its wings from one of Aerosmith’s biggest hits. It’s simple beginning now exponentially magnified.

“Well I sat down at the piano and started plinking out dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah,” Tyler told CNN on the red carpet to his Grammy event. “Then, I said, ‘Janie’s got a gun.’ And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s as good a lyric as any.'”

steven tyler split

The Grammy-award-winning song was a hit worldwide. At the same time, Tyler — who has his own checkered past with drugs and sex — has had to deal with his own demons.

“I went away to a place for co-dependency and I happened to meet many, many of the girls there that had been physically, verbally, emotionally, and obviously, sexually abused,” Tyler told CNN.

“Years went by and just the right time happened. I just suggested what if we had a Janie’s House.”

He partnered with Youth Villages to bring hope and healing to girls who need it most… and now there are two.

janie's house bed

The first Janie’s House opened in Georgia in 2017. In order to continue to fund his charity, Tyler went where he knew there was no shortage of money… Hollywood — recruiting a host of A-listers to help him with the cause, including actresses Jane Lynch and Sharon Stone.

“When you talk to Steven about Janie’s fund, his eyes light up and you can’t help but get wrapped up into the joy of this work for him which is helping abused and neglected girls and giving them a second chance at life,” Lynch told CNN.

“The majority of people, of families have in some way been touched by sexual abuse which means that we should be talking about it openly, every day,” Stone said.

Mixed in with the celebrities and donors — the Janie’s girls like 20-year-old Adriena Turmel.

“The day to day life is pretty difficult — but with good support like Steven’s and the people here tonight, we’re actually able to work towards making those days better,” Turmel told CNN.

steven tyler girls 2

“For the time that they’re there, there’s poetry on the walls, and they got bunk beds. One gets the top, the other gets the bottom. They can write on the wall. It’s there place of solitude and safety,” Tyler said.

And so what began as those four dark and haunting words — “Janie’s got a gun” — has now evolved.

Janie’s got a home.

Written by John Vause and Ben Bamsey; produced by Ben Bamsey for “CNN Newsroom.”

steven tyler grammy photo

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