Aerosmith’s 10 Most Memorable Concerts
In one sense, a cocktail of drama and tension has often kept the band functioning in a unique fashion. But there was also clearly a brotherhood for many years which was an important contributor to the group’s songwriting -- and the connection of their stage performances.
These guys looked cool. It was impossible not to be drawn in by the unique chemistry between Steven Tyler, a whirling dervish and vocal marvel, who was forever feeding off the six-string machismo exhibited by Joe Perry. There was a certain magic when the whole band played live, with the quiet intensity of drummer Joey Kramer at the heart and bassist Tom Hamilton and guitarist Brad Whitford rounding out the offensive line.
Many concerts have been unforgettable. Sometimes it’s the music on stage, and in other moments, it’s the unknown milestones which transpired before, during or after the last notes faded away. Here’s a look back at some key moments in Aero-history.
Aerosmith's First Concert - Nov. 6, 1970
Aerosmith has long been powered in part by the group’s internal friction, especially between Tyler and Perry. The singer wrote in his 2011 memoir that the pair clashed “almost immediately” when they played their first official concert at Nipmuc Regional High School. At the root of the discord, according to both sides, was volume. “My ears are bleeding,” Tyler would tell the guitarist, regarding the volume of his Marshall amps. “Let ‘em bleed,” came the terse reply. Perry summarized the experience in his 2014 autobiography, “Sometimes I think Steven looked at this volume thing as a competition.”
The Day Aerosmith Got Signed - Aug. 5, 1972
Having inked managers David Krebs and Steve Leber earlier in the year, a showcase gig was arranged for Aerosmith to perform in front of several record label luminaries at Max's Kansas City in New York. Among those in the crowd, Columbia Records president Clive Davis, Atlantic Records founder and chairman Ahmet Ertegun and his label president, Jerry Greenberg. Reportedly, the band showed up that night and found they weren’t on the bill -- and paid to get a slot. Atlantic passed, but Davis offered Aerosmith a deal with Columbia on the spot, which was later revealed to be worth $125,000.
Fireworks in Philadelphia - Oct. 10, 1977
The main part of Aerosmith’s second night at the Spectrum in Philly went off without incident, but things changed drastically as they made their way back to the stage to play the encore set. As the band climbed the stairs, a cherry bomb went off. Tyler reportedly suffered a cornea burn, while Perry had a ruptured artery in his hand. A little more than a year later, the singer again was injured in Philadelphia. This time it was a beer bottle, which was launched from the balcony and exploded on the stage. Reaction was swift, though Tyler wanted to finish the concert. “The vote was four-to-one against,” Whitford remembered in the band’s book Walk This Way. “We were in the limos two minutes later. Fuck this."
Joe Perry Leaves Aerosmith - July 28, 1979
Aerosmith reportedly played the best show of their 1979 tour at the World Series of Rock in Cleveland -- it was also the night that things came to a boiling point between Tyler and Perry and the guitarist exited the group, putting a period on their first chapter. “I've never actually punched Joe, but that night I came really close,” Tyler recalled in Walk This Way. Backstage, there was plenty of drama, including an epic brawl between two of the band member’s wives. Years later, it was still hard for the bandmates to completely reconstruct the events, but Whitford offered up perhaps the best summary: “Being in Aerosmith was like walking into a dog fight and both dogs bite you."
READ MORE: The Day Joe Perry Quit Aerosmith
Brad Whitford's Departure - Dec. 3, 1980
With guitarist Jimmy Crespo replacing Perry in late ‘79, the band had seemingly successfully moved on, but their fortunes were continuing to dwindle. Though Tyler had been in a motorcycle accident in August, the band came back together for their first show in nearly six months to celebrate the group’s 10th anniversary. The gig at Club Boston, broadcast nationally on the radio, was Whitford’s final performance with Aerosmith in this era. He showed up at the studio briefly in 1981 as the sessions for Rock in a Hard Place began, but it wouldn’t last. “It would take us 12 hours to do 20 minutes of work,” Kramer wrote in his memoir, Hit Hard. “Brad did some tracks with us, then he got disgusted and walked out.”
Listen to Aerosmith's Final Concert With Brad Whitford Prior to His Departure
Aerosmith Debuts Their New Lineup - Oct. 31, 1982
Whitford was eventually replaced by guitarist Rick Dufay, a friend of longtime band associate Jack Douglas. The revised lineup, now featuring Crespo and Dufay, made their debut with an under the radar Halloween performance. They played more than 70 shows in support of Rock in a Hard Place, but it eventually became clear a proper reunion was taking shape in the background. Aerosmmith performed their final concert with Dufay and Crespo on Feb. 17, 1984 in Providence, Rhode Island. While Dufay, a longtime fan, encouraged the reunion, Crespo was unfortunately collateral damage. “I feel weird that we never sat down with Jimmy and said, ‘Man, you did fuckin’ great, but we gotta put the band back together and someday we hope we can make it right for you,” Hamilton wrote in Walk This Way. “Always meant to call him. Never did.”
The Classic Lineup Reunites - June 22, 1984
With Perry and Whitford finally back in the Aerosmith fold, the band booked 30 shows for an exploratory trek appropriately called the Back in the Saddle tour. After lengthy rehearsals in the Massachusetts area, the group made their official return to the stage for a two night stand at the intimate Capitol Theater, with a capacity of just 1,300. Band associate Tim Collins, who would play an important role in their overall resurrection, noted that Columbia Records wasn’t returning their phone calls, which sparked the idea to move forward with a tour. “We just said, ‘Fuck them,’" he told Rolling Stone. “We’re going to go on the road and get out of this contract.”
READ MORE: The Day Aerosmith's Reunion Began
Entering the '90s With Jimmy Page - Aug. 18, 1990
After stumbling commercially with 1985’s Done With Mirrors, Aerosmith continued their retooling process. Permanent Vacation (1987) and Pump (1989) put them firmly back on top. The pinnacle of that era came when they played the annual Monsters of Rock festival in London in front of more than 80,000 fans. Joined by Jimmy Page for the encore, the band’s journey came full circle. The legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist showed up again two days later when they played a secret show at the 650 capacity Marquee Club. "Our soundcheck was about five hours long," Perry remembered in 2015. "We played every Led Zeppelin and Yardbirds tune we knew with Jimmy. It was just amazing."
Watch Aerosmith Perform with Jimmy Page at the Marquee Club
Aerosmith in Turmoil - Aug. 5, 2009
Aerosmith’s 2009 performance at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally tore open fissures that had been developing within the organization. Sound issues started midway through the set and Tyler turned his showman skills up, dancing to entertain the audience. As he was completing his steps, he took a tumble from the stage. A subsequent examination revealed a broken shoulder and the rest of the tour was scrubbed. Word emerged that Tyler wasn’t communicating with the rest of the band -- and by November, he’d reportedly left the group. By December, he was in rehab -- and they’d eventually mend fences to tour again in 2010.
Joey Kramer's Last Ride - Feb. 15, 2020
Kramer began having health problems during the 2014 Let Rock Rule tour. Continuing issues not only affected Kramer’s availability to perform, but frayed his relationship with his bandmates. In 2019, drum tech John Douglas took his place during a stint of the band’s Deuces Are Wild residency in Las Vegas. Things got ugly in January 2020 when Aerosmith prevented Kramer from performing with them during the Grammys, with the drummer even briefly suing his bandmates in response. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and Kramer was performing with the band once more less than a month later. The Feb. 15, 2020 concert appears to have been his final show with the band. Kramer bowed out of Aerosmith’s 2022 concerts and is not participating in the band’s farewell tour.
Watch Aerosmith Perform with Joey Kramer in February 2020
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