A school gymnasium in tiny Mendon, Mass., may seem like an inauspicious place for rock legends to get their start, but it's where Aerosmith played their first-ever show on Nov. 6, 1970.

The new band got the gig because Joe Perry's mother, who worked at a nearby school, knew someone at the former Nipmuc Regional High School and helped set it up. At the time, Ray Tabano was on rhythm guitar. He would be replaced by Brad Whitford a year later.

"I remember being blown away by their sound," Roy Spindel, who attended the show, said in Jeff Burlingame's Aerosmith biography. "When they were playing, it seemed obvious they were going to go some place. All I could think of was, 'This is what it must feel like when the Rolling Stones play.' They sounded like they had been together forever."

Even at that early stage, Aerosmith were finding ways to get into trouble. According to Burlingame, Steven Tyler swiped a school T-shirt from the locker room and wore it onstage.

Some common themes were already emerging, as well: Perry and Tyler apparently argued on stage, this time over the volume of Perry's guitar. ("I'm doing my thing, and to do it I have to be loud," Perry reportedly fired back.) And, try not to be shocked, but they may also have sneaked in some alcohol, too.

School officials charged 50 or 75 cents for admission, according to Carl Olson, a history teacher who helped organize the Aerosmith show. The band was paid $50, and those funds arrived at a critical moment. "If you look in their autobiography, they said that $50 paid the rent for the apartment in Boston where they were staying back then," Olson told the Milford Daily News in 2005, adding: "I'm not sure if we covered all the costs."

At this point, the members Aerosmith were still holding on to part-time jobs to cover costs in that three-bedroom pad on Commonwealth Avenue. (Tyler worked at a bakery.) They kept practicing, securing space at nearby Boston University, and – despite the arguing – they kept getting better.

"It started out blissfully, but soon turned into little skirmishes over chewing gum and toothpaste of petty psychological feuds," Tyler said in Aerosmith. "But that's what marriages are – and in the end, the band really worked."
 

 

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