Every rock legend has to start somewhere. For Aerosmith, that start was 50 years ago - Nov. 6, 1970, in the gym at Nipmuc Regional High School in Upton, Massachusetts.
The Bad Boys from Boston first came together earlier that year, essentially combining two bands: local group The Jam Band, - featuring guitarst Joe Perry, bassist Brad Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer - and New York-based Chain Reaction, featuring bassist Ray Tabano and a drummer named Steven Tyler who was keen on becoming a frontman. Chain Reaction had opened for heavy hitters like The Beach Boys and The Byrds, but Tyler was entranced by The Jam Band's bluesy style and raw energy.
Aerosmith (taking their name from a word Kramer was keen to scrawl on notebooks) got the gig with some help from Perry's mother, who worked in the local school system and got a colleague to set up the gig. The group were paid $50 for their set, which reportedly featured some early favorites like "Movin' Out" plus covers of Fleetwood Mac's "Rattlesnake Shake" and the blues standard "Train Kept A-Rollin'."
"They didn't play many songs but it was loud," Nipmuc teacher Dave Olson, who attended the show, told the Milford Daily News in 2005. "And the kids loved it, though the adults were a little taken back."
Within two years, Aerosmith - which replaced Tabano with Brad Whitford in 1971 - would sign to Columbia Records, breaking through in 1975 thanks to Toys in the Attic and a reissue of debut single "Dream On," which hit the Top 10 that same year. After a difficult period in the late '70s and early '80s marred by addiction and band conflicts, the original lineup reunited in 1984 and reached a new generation when Run-DMC took a hip-hop cover of their "Walk This Way" to the Top 10.
Though Aerosmith had to curtail some of their 50th anniversary activities, including a concert at Boston's Fenway Park in September - due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent post on their website promises more good things in the future. "You won’t believe the treasures we have been digging out of the vaults to share with the Blue Army," it read. "It will be worth the wait..."