Steven Tyler

And the next judge to leave American Idol is…

Steven Tyler? Yup, after weeks of rumors that Jennifer Lopez might exit the hit talent show, Fox just announced that the Aerosmith frontman will not return to Idol as a judge for the show’s 12th season.

“After some long … hard … thoughts … I’ve decided it’s time for me to let go of my mistress American Idol before she boils my rabbit,” said Tyler in a statement. “I strayed from my first love, Aerosmith, and I’m back – but instead of begging on my hands and knees, I’ve got two fists in the air and I’m kicking the door open with my band.”

Tyler then promoted his upcoming album, and added, “Idol was over-the-top fun, and I loved every minute of it…Now it’s time to bring rock back.”

With his veteran rocker spaciness and somewhat creepy lusty comments about young female contestants, the 64-year-old singer was considered an entertaining and fresh personality in his first year. During the 11th season, however, the novelty wore off and he wasn’t nearly as interesting, especially during the live shows when he often resorted to calling a contestant beautiful and leaving it at that.

More than ever, Fox has incentive to make changes. Idol suffered the sharpest ratings decline in the show’s history last season, fueling speculation that the net would shake up its judging panel once again. For the moment, Randy Jackson and Lopez are still on the show, but that could change. Fox definitely wants Lopez to return next year, but contract negotiations have been dragging out for weeks, and the singer has been hinting heavily she might leave the show.

Meanwhile, Tyler’s exit will likely fuel speculation that the network dumped one pricey judge to help pay to keep another. Or perhaps the situation is exactly as Fox says: Tyler is choosing to leave. Anyway, here’s how the network reacted: “It’s been a tremendous honor to have Steven – one of the most prolific artists in the world – on American Idol for the past two seasons,” said Mike Darnell, president of alternative programming at Fox, in a statement. “He’s been a terrific judge, a true friend and great mentor to everyone involved with the show, and we know he’ll continue to be a huge inspiration to Idol hopefuls for years to come. We are very sad that Steven has chosen to focus more on his music, but we always knew when we hired a rock ’n’ roll legend, he would go back to the music. We all wish him all the best and would love to have him back on the show anytime.”