The Barn
The Barn



Contributions, clarifications and/or corrections are welcomed: Contact.


THE GRIND (1970-72)

Joey Kramer: "There are bands that are really terrible that are making a million dollars. There are bands that are really good that are making no money. It's all a matter of chance. No matter how good you are, you have to be lucky to a certain extent" (Boston Herald, 9/16/1973).

Clones of the Stones or heirs apparent to Jim Morrison or a neo-Dead-End Kids? It ultimately matters not a damn; a half-century of music stands as solid testament to a Boston group that became America's band. In popular culture, the Dead-End Kids were a group of menacing New York City street kids. Punks, in other words, though that term would be appropriated for a style of music that had emerged from the garages of disaffected youths in the late '60s. Early acts wearing the label, willingly or not, included the MC5 and Iggy and The Stooges, with the latter particularly having taken inspiration from the Stones but transformed it to the point of being nearly unrecognizable (apart from a few unfortunate physical analogues). Where the nihilism of the Velvet Underground broke from direct connections with the Warholian art scene, the emerging glitter movement of the early '70s was firmly rooted in style, performance, and attitude not always translating into quality. Aerosmith's goals were simple: To get off playing music and to get people off to their playing. Though Joe Perry also wanted to play loud, pushing the levels until he could see the sonic waves, much to the chagrin of Steven Tyler. The battles were present from the beginning, and conflict and tension fueled Aerosmith to the heights of stardom and popularity while slowly poisoning the band's very soul.

At the time Aerosmith were signed to Columbia by Clive Davis in 1972, few outside of a regional diehard following would have known anything about them, or much less cared. They were barely a Boston band either. The genre of the sort of music represented was dominated by the Rolling Stones, who had then recently released Exile on Main St., the zenith of a string of highly acclaimed albums. While response was more mixed after the heights of Sticky Fingers, Let it Bleed, and Beggars Banquet, the band was firmly entrenched in mega stardom, rivaled only by the likes of The Who and Led Zeppelin. Had the members of Aerosmith paid more attention to that album, and its successors, then they might have taken warning and had a vastly different history. Regardless, the individual influences of the band members contributed to the whole, and out of that conglomeration something special was born. The New York Dolls tried to capture that trip, only to burn out young and wasted, having enjoyed more hype than substance and not translating the press into commercial success. At least they looked good while enjoying the attention and reveling in the critical acclaim from a pen, only occasionally delivering an exceptional performance. Aerosmith, though, did it the hard way...

Born in New York City in 1948, Steven Tallarico had become something of a bohemian by the time he reached his teens and was living on the attic floor of his parent's home in Yonkers during the school year while spending summers in the country. It was the best of two worlds. His father, Victor, was a professional musician formally trained at Julliard's Institute of Musical Art, teaching at the private Foxwood school and later at Cardinal Spellman High School. Due to his father's vocation and passion, music was a constant in his life, so it's hardly surprising he'd follow a similar path... A hyper-active child, Steven was involved in mischief from the time he could walk, which coupled with a direct but oft mercurial attitude, would become perfect characteristics for a rock 'n roller. In the country, during the summers, it led to a life in the woods and surroundings as a free spirit, after chores were completed. In the city, well, that proved more of a challenge. His father had already tried, unsuccessfully, to teach him piano properly, and it took the drumming records of Sandy Nelson to really capture Steven's attention. He was hooked and "Let There Be Drums" could almost be a theme for Steven's Green Mountain Boys. His first flirtations with performing came with childhood friend Raymond Tabano — he lived the next block over. Steven started out on guitar but switched to drums so that he could also play with his father's band at Trow-Rico. Raymond recalled, "When we were 13- or 14-years old Steven played the guitar, and I played the drums. My real father worked at some bar down on Morris Park Avenue so we would go down there, and we would do 'Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song),' 'Summertime,' and stuff like that." After taking lessons at Westchester Workshop Drums Unlimited in Mt. Vernon, Steven spent the summers playing in his father's band. Before long, playing waltzes and showtunes wasn't getting Steven off musically and it was kryptonite to girls his age. As he entered adolescence, he soon set his eyes on more contemporary sounds — forming a proper band with other kids his age. It wasn't long before he'd be joining a local band, the Maniacs, on stage at The Barn. During the school year in New York, Steven was playing drums in the Strangers and singing occasionally with the Dantes, which included Raymond. Steven became a full-time singer when he decided his band's vocalist wasn't singing badly, but that he could simply do it better. The song in that made Steven a singer? The Beach Boys' "In My Room." Where the Strangers were more aligned with the sound of the Beatles, the Dantes projected a tougher image akin to the Stones. Raymond differentiated the bands: "Steven's father was a classically trained musician. His whole family were classical trained musicians. So, Steven had a leg up on us. One of the guys in his band, Don Solomon, his partner, was also a gifted pianist and a great singer. They were really good and played more sophisticated music. We played Them, The Rolling Stones, and the Pretty Things, that kind of music. It wasn't too difficult to play — three or four chord songs with a lot of backbeat and a little guitar work...

While at Roosevelt, Steven had been drumming in the Strangers, but wanted to focus on singing. When he saw drummer Barry Shapiro at a talent show, he immediately recruited him for the band, playing their first show (at least with Barry) opening for the Byrds at the Westchester County Center on Mar. 26, 1966. They were planning, at the time, to record their new song, "But I Don't Care..." By April, the band had a manager, Peter Agosta, who would help take them up the local and regional ladder. They opened for the Animals at the House of Liverpool in Yonkers on May 9. Thee Strangeurs, which Steven has described as a deliberately pretentious name, evolved out of the group discovering there was already an established band in the area with the same name. In June, the band became one of the first two acts signed with Richard Gottehrer's Sire Productions. They'd start recording in August, completing four songs in separate sessions over the period of several weeks... The Strangeurs' band name didn't stick, and they formally became Chain Reaction in late 1966 with the release of their first single on Date Records. If competing with another band named the Strangers was a problem, then perhaps it wasn't noted that there was already a Chain Reaction band recording for Dial Records, and Terry and The Chain Reaction on United Artists. The band continued to work with big name acts and supported the Beach Boys at the Westchester County Center on Apr. 25, 1967, along with The Buckinghams, Satan's Helpers, and other acts. Winning another battle of the bands, they also supported the Beach Boys at Iona College in July. Over the next year, while they performed plenty of covers, they had also started amassing a number of originals, including the songs "Tomorrow's Today" and "Ordinary Girl..."


(Trow-Rico with a nicely mown lawn)

The remaining songs recorded in August–September 1966 were released as a Verve Records single in August 1968. These are of more interest to Aerosmith fans now, than any ripples in the musical continuum their existence made contemporaneously, but for Steven they served part of his apprenticeship and provided more experience in the studio. So too did early "session work," with him ending up on backing vocals on several recordings for the final Left Banke album (including "Dark is the Bark") and on teenage, and future Aerosmith touring keyboard player, Mark Radice's "10,000-Year-Old Blues" / "Three Cheers (for the Sad Man)" single (released in 1968)... As his musical career stumbled, Steven continued to find trouble with the law. He, along with Henry Smith and two others, were busted in Miami in May 1968 for possession of marijuana. Chain Reaction had come to nothing and ultimately broke up. Chain Reaction's keyboard player, and Steven's songwriting partner, Don Solomon, was the only holdover for Steven's next couple of bands. One of these, another link in the proverbial chain, was appropriately named The Chain. This band included another of Steven and Don's friends from Yonkers, Frankie Ray. The band was performing at The Barn as late as Aug. 1, 1969, before splitting up. Steven, close to giving up on his dream, made another attempt at making it on his own, poaching the exquisitely talented Eddie Kistler (piano/vocals) and Peter Bover (bass), both members of the Nickel Misery (formerly the Sprites), along with Don, for Fox Chase...

The band members attempted to live in cabins at Trow-Rico, writing and rehearsing at the Barn during the winter of 1969/70, but frigid conditions forced them into the main house with Steven's less-than-thrilled parents. With a plan to play originals, the band performed at regional venues such as Dartmouth College, which Aerosmith also later used as a proving ground early during their career. The group ultimately disbanded due to what Peter described as unrelenting pressure from Steven robbing the music of fun" (Brattleboro Historical Society, 7/26/2019) ... Finally, there was William Proud, which reunited Steven with Raymond, with the addition guitarist Dwight "Twitty" Farren... But playing clubs in South Hampton made it clear to Steven that he was on a downward trajectory and that William Proud was going nowhere. After he attempted to strangle Twitty for daring to yawn during a rehearsal, he hitchhiked back to Sunapee and saw Joe playing at The Barn... But he didn't quite yet know that he needed a true partner in crime.

In 1970, Steven heard from Henry Smith that Jeff Beck was re-forming his band and looking for a new vocalist. If he couldn't create a successful group of his own, he might as well audition for someone else's. Steven recruited several local musicians to help him cut a rough demo of the Beatles' "I'm Down" to submit for consideration. Those musicians were Tom Hamilton, David "Pudge" Scott, and Joe Perry. Joe recalled, "He [Steven] asked me and Tom to play on 'I'm Down' for a demo, so he could send a vocal to Jeff. We were in a club and they ran a little Wollensak tape recorder" (Guitar World, 4/1997). Afterward, Steven hopped behind the drum kit and jammed with Tom and Joe for the first real time. However, working together in a band at that time had still not progressed past the casual polite suggestion stage, and Steven returned to mowing the lawns at Trow-Rico...

What's a boy from a small town like Hopedale, Mass., 25 miles southwest of Boston, supposed to do? While Anthony Joseph Perry's parents may have had other aspirations for their son, the son wasn't reading from the same book... Joe's introduction to the guitar was casual. He recalled, "My uncle had a guitar he built to play folk songs on, and I thought that was cool, so I picked up on it" (Kerrang #160). It would only be in his early teens that he started to take it more seriously. Joe's first guitar was purportedly a $14 Sears Silvertone that he recalled was "so cheap that's what your mother would buy you when she really wanted you to be a doctor" (Circus Raves, 7/1975). Essentially, self-taught, he recalled taking a single lesson: "I took one lesson from a guy, and then a week later when I was driving to school, I saw a hearse in front of his house. He had died — so, that was the last lesson I took... I just took it as an omen" (Guitar Player, March 1979). Initially, Joe wasn't a good enough guitarist, so he ended up as the vocalist in his first band, the Chimes of Freedom... At the end of 10th grade, Joe's grades were suffering at Hopedale High School. He was shipped off to boarding school at the Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vermont, 100 miles to the northwest of Hopedale to repeat the grade in hopes the change of location would spur academic growth... The curious youth had plenty of ambition but was unable to translate his intellectual prowess into good grades, even at Vermont Academy — to the chagrin of his ever-pragmatic parents Tony and Mary. In some ways, the school may have had an opposite effect on Joe. He recalled, "That's when I was first exposed to a lot of weirdos. What kind? Oh, you know, New York weirdos" (Circus Raves, 7/1975). He stubbornly refused to cut his hair and dropped out of school just weeks shy of graduation, but nevertheless espoused his father's strong work ethic while toiling in a Hopedale factory and working menial jobs while at the family's summer retreat in Sunapee.


(The Anchorage, 2021)

During the summers at Lake Sunapee, Joe worked the sorts of jobs many teens do. He met David "Pudge" Scott working in the kitchen of the Anchorage Restaurant and the two decided to get a band together. Scott already knew Tom Hamilton, who had by that time flipped to bass, and Pipe Dream was formed. While lineups of these early bands were often fluid, the band included Tom's school friend and one-time Perry girlfriend, Kathy Lowe, on vocals... The band evolved into Plastic Glass, which included "Pudge," Joe, Tom, and John McGuire on vocals and guitar. Ultimately, the core of "Pudge," Joe, and Tom became the Jam Band and the three would play together through the summer of 1970 (Kathy headed for Paris and recorded several folk albums). During 1969, while days would be spent working, the weekends were free for music explorations. Joe's education continued, seeing the likes of the Jeff Beck Group at Symphony Hall or Fleetwood Mac at the Boston Tea Party. The performers he saw there, or elsewhere, added to his education. Joe recalled that it was seeing Jeff and Jimmy Page perform 'Stroll On' in the movie Blow Up had a definite impact on his perspective towards playing guitar... That the band recorded one of their sets live, on Aug. 30, 1969, plus part of a rehearsal, as a commemorative of the summer that Perry came of age as a guitarist. The following summer things would change, with Joe and Tom planning how they could escape their rural rut. The catalyst turned out to be Mark Lehman, who conveniently happened to have a van...

Tom Hamilton was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1951, the third of four children. His father was active in the U.S. Air Force during his early life, resulting in the family moving several times throughout his youth. Once his father left the service, the family settled in New London, New Hampshire... Tom started playing guitar when he was 12, picking up his older brother's Fender when he wasn't home. He'd seen his brother playing along to Elvis when they were younger but had also been given a toy organ one Christmas. Like many kids of his generation, Tom started out by teaching himself with some help from his brother and the Play Guitar with the Ventures instructional albums... School friend Kathy Lowe recalled that Tom was a kind young man who was well regarded. However, he was nearly kicked out of New London High School after an acid dropping incident that left him with a fine and curfew. He was also labeled as the town hoodlum... By his sophomore year he had met David "Pudge" Scott and was playing in Plastic Glass. Tom recalled, "Joe (Perry) and I used to get a band together every summer — I've known him since I was 14 or 15. We put a band together called The Pipe Dream when I was about 15. And then at the end of the summer I would go back to school; and he was a 'summer kid,' so he'd go back to Massachusetts and go back to school. The summer after that we put another band together, called Plastic Glass, and then the two summers after that, we had a band called The Jam Band" (Shark Magazine, 8/24/1989)... At one show he and Joe attended, Tom was inspired that he too could make it in a professional band when he watched the performance of bass player of Spirit, Mark Andes. But, as Kathy Lowe recalled, "He was the only person I ever knew in my life who knew at a very young age, exactly what he wanted to do. He wanted to play bass in a rock band, and that's what he did." As he finished up school, Tom made non-musical plans for his future. He recalled, "I was accepted into a couple of good drama schools, but three months after graduating from high school... I was living in Boston. I dropped the bomb on my parents that Joe Perry and I were going to start a rock band" (Lexington Herald-Leader, 1/13/1985).

In that brief period, the pair made a full-time commitment to music in the summer of 1970. Moving to Boston to form a full-time band, Pudge wouldn't be coming — he was several years younger and intent on completing high school — but Lehman became the pair's cheerleader. Joe, borrowing money from his mother, combined with his own savings, had enough to get them started and the trio arrived in Boston in August 1970... The first thing the trio did was rent an apartment at 1325 Commonwealth (#22). They also quickly obtained access to the Boston University West Campus dorm basement and started rehearsing, sometimes with "Pudge" Scott behind the kit. Then they started the process of finding suitable band members...

Like Steven, Bronx born Joey Kramer had grown up in Yonkers... Musically, as a youngster, Joey started out trying to learn the accordion, but soon found listening to the crooners of the day, Paul Anka or Joey Dee, capturing his attention. Even with lessons, Joey just couldn't fall in love with his instrument of choice, much to his disappointment when he'd see friends passionately enraptured by their instruments and being willing to practice for hours and hours. One Christmas, one of Joey's friends received a Slingerland drum kit and invited Joey over to his house to check it out. The sparkle of the finish, the shine of the metal, and the feel of the drumstick in his hand hitting the snare was enough for Joey to finally have that longed for emotional connection with an instrument. He recalled, "It was a rush like nothing I'd ever felt before. Right there... I was thinking, 'This is good. This feels really good'... Everything I'd experienced up to that point, all the emotions I couldn't articulate or even process or understand, I could feel being channeled through those two wooden sticks and onto the heads of those drums" ("Hit Hard"). With money saved, Joey eventually managed to persuade his parents to allow him to rent a kit of his own, a three-piece set of red sparkle Kent's. It was enough for him to get down to the business of learning and at age 13, Joey discovered one thing: He enjoyed hitting hard! Once the Beatles hit the American shores and British Invasion started, Joey knew what he wanted to be...

Getting into bands also offered the opportunity to escape his home, it wasn't long before Joey was playing with his first groups — in 1964 the Dynamics or shortly afterward the Medallions. As the British Invasion progressed, so did Joey's education, adding the likes of Keith Moon to his list of teachers. He had also moved on to playing with a more serious group, the King Bees, which included the talented Bobby Mayo. Unfortunately, a poor report card resulted in Joey's parents confiscating his drums. With a "battle of the bands" coming up at school, Joey was in desperate straits to not lose what he loved doing. Through a band member's brother, arrangements were made for Joey to borrow another drummer's kit for the show. That drummer? One Steven Tallarico, who even at that stage had reached a level all the amateurs in the neighborhoods could only dream of... A teenage Joey also encountered Raymond Tabano, and it would be at Raymond's place that Steven introduced him to the drumming of Mitch Mitchell via Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland album. Joey would play with an assortment of bands, such as Strawberry Ripple and Nino's Magic Show, where he applied his new learning to his drumming as he evolved... In the fall, Joey enrolled at Chamberlayne Junior College in Boston, though he really had no interest in pursuing further education but had nothing more appealing to do at the time...

By the end of his first semester, he was expelled for troublemaking, but was unwelcome back at home. He stayed in Boston and got a menial job to make ends meet. It was another fortunate situation that his boss was also involved with a R&B soul band, Chubby & The Turnpikes (who later became the Tavares; the Uptown Four are also sometimes mentioned). It was during his time working with the band that Joey became more of a "feel" player, where he learned to use the drums to communicate his emotions with the other band members and audience. The music the band performed involved dance moves, so he also learned the importance of choreographed percussive enunciation — playing drum accents that complimented or enhanced the movements of the band members on stage... By September 1970, Joey was back in Boston and had enrolled at the Berklee School of Music. He didn't last long, recalling: "Getting into that angle of drum playing was suddenly turning into a negative source as far as the direction I wanted to go in. I was playing matched grip because I was self-taught, and at the school they wanted me to play conventional grip. Also, I wanted to take lessons on the vibes because I had always wanted to play the vibes. Well, they wouldn't let me do it. Nothing really worked out for me at Berklee, so I left" (Modern Drummer, March 1984). A brief attempt to get a band together came to nothing, but Joey discovered that Raymond was living in Boston and the two soon reconnected. It would be Raymond who told Joey about Joe and Tom looking for a drummer and he soon auditioned for them...

Georges Mills, New Hampshire, it all went down at The Barn... or maybe down the road next to a freshly mowed lawn. By the time Joe and Tom returned to Sunapee for a 1970 Labor Day party, they'd already auditioned a drummer for their new band... The pair probably should have spoken with Steven first but seemed pretty sure that he was going to join their new band in Boston, even before they headed up to Sunapee. Joe recalled speaking with Steven: "He was playing with his one partner, Don Solomon, and he wasn't getting anywhere. I know he was kind of getting disillusioned with the whole thing... he said to me he was thinking about doing something else and forgetting about the music business. He was getting sick of it and at the very least wanted to take a break from it or a while. So that's when I said, 'Look, Tom and I have moved into this apartment. We're looking for a singer and a drummer and we've got a couple more bedrooms and we're looking to fill them, what do you think?'" (Ken Sharp/Rock Cellar Magazine, 11/7/2014). Steven was responsive to the idea, but adamant that he didn't want to drum. He wanted to focus all his energy into fronting a band... Even at that stage there was a tug of wills, a friction and pushing for advantage. But Joe was open to the idea of two guitarists in the band with other successful bands, such as the Yardbirds, Stones, and Fleetwood Mac having utilized the format. There was a short period where Steven, Joe, Tom, David Scott, and Raymond jammed together, both in Sunapee and at the BU rehearsal space.

In some ways, Raymond Tabano was the keystone to the formation of Aerosmith. Born in the Bronx, Dec. 23, 1946, he was friends with Steven Tyler and acquainted with Joey Kramer during their youth in Yonkers... Within a couple of years, Tabano was playing in a rival band to Tyler while both attended Roosevelt High School. Where Steven's band was more Beatles-esque, Raymond's was more aligned with the Stones... The pair eventually joined forces in William Proud, the last band in which Steven was drumming full-time. Raymond recalls, "There was some original material. Twitty Farren was a really great guitar player, an incredible mechanic. We played a lot of Hendrix stuff. We played a lot of Stones' [and] Beatles stuff. We did a few original songs here and there — dance-oriented type of stuff. We played three sets, so we had to stretch a lot of songs out. We played 'Reefer Head Women' a lot, 'Crosstown Traffic,' 'Come On,' and Texas styled blues. I think the song ['Come On'] that we ended our set with... We also did Sly and the Family Stone [hums intro figure of 'Thank You']." The band ended abruptly one night in Long Island... Raymond moved to Boston opened his leather shop, "The Yellow Cow." Joe recalled, "I didn't know Steven very well at that point: I had talked with him a few times and jammed with him a few times. He said, 'I wanna bring this guy in to play guitar.' The last three years before that I'd played with a three-piece band or a band that had five or six players. I'd tried every kind of a lineup, so I was kind of flexible there. Raymond had a really cool look. He had a leather shop. He was into the American Indian kind of look and had hair down to his butt. He wore an Indian chest plate" (Ken Sharp/Rock Cellar Magazine, 11/7/2014) ...


(Castle Aerosmith: 1325 Commonwealth)

With Joe, Tom, and Mark already living at 1325 Commonwealth, Joey (and his Great Dane, Tiger) soon joined them, and when Steven arrived, the Yonkers boys initially shared a room in the back... Initially, the band had no name, other than "Joe's new band" or "Steven's new band," discarding ideas such as Hooker — with Steven alluding to the point that "playing the clubs is prostitution anyway" (Circus Raves, 4/1974) — or Spike Jones, before Joey suggested Aerosmith. It was a band name he'd had in his head since a teenager, inspired by Harry Nilsson's Aerial Ballet (1968) album title. With a name, the band's identity started to be forged in the communal apartment and seemingly endless practices in their rehearsal space at Boston University or the basement of the building. The band played hour after hour to hone their performance... The communal living bonded them and gave Steven and Joe time to become comfortable together. While Steven would remain the band's primary songwriter, the pair learned to work together and off each other's strengths to make the music stronger. Joe recalled the early practices: "We drilled a lot. We would pick the songs apart. I remember Tommy and Joey would drill, playing a part over and over. Sometimes the whole band would cook on one lick, just to get that pulse going" (Guitar for the Practicing Musician, 5/1986) ... So, they argued and snorted their way to perfection and bliss.

With a few weeks of rehearsals under their belt, Aerosmith played their first paying gig at the Nipmuc Regional High School's gym in Mendon on November 6, 1970. Their set consisted mostly of covers (as detailed in "Walk this Way" — if memories are correct), though six of the songs performed that night later turned up on Aerosmith albums... Steven and Joe had a big blow-up following the show with Joe being accused of playing too loud... It wasn't the first argument on that topic, and it certainly wasn't the last. For Tom, the band wanted to start out doing things their way: "We were not at all interested in going to clubs and playing five sets. So, we picked out songs that were fun for us to play and that people could dance to. We did frat parties and gigs like that. So, you first create and realize your stylistic identity by the songs that you pick to cover" (Guitar for the Practicing Musician, 5/1986). Other shows in town hall auditoriums followed through the end of 1970... As 1971 dawned, the group broadened their horizons towards various regional venues they had played with other bands previously, often shows booked by Ed Malhoit. By April 1971, with just a handful of shows performed, the band was starting to look to recording demos to send in to record labels, but other than Steven, they were utter novices with few useful connections. With Mark hauling them around, they were very much a cottage industry — a band paying their dues slowly trying to work their way up... During the summer of 1971, the band started undergoing a crisis, caused by a deterioration with the band member's relationship with Raymond.

Playing with Raymond for a few months made it clear to Joe that it was not the sort of dual-guitar relationship he had been looking for. He recalled, "That's one of the reasons I was so attracted to Fleetwood Mac and especially the Yardbirds when they had Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page in the band at the same time. They were breaking tradition with two lead guitar players in the same band. It wasn't like listening to the Shadows or the Ventures where you had one guy playing lead and one guy playing chords. I didn't have that with Ray, and I wanted that element in Aerosmith" (Ken Sharp/Rock Cellar Magazine, 11/7/2014). Furthermore, Raymond was strong-willed, independent, and often combative... But for Joe, the most important issue was Raymond's musical growth... Raymond was very much aware of his musical inadequacies and external distractions but was unapologetic. When the band returned to Sunapee to play a show with Joe Jammer at The Barn in the summer of 1971, they attended a Justin Thyme show down the lake at Sunapee Harbor. From the moment Aerosmith encountered Brad Whitford, Raymond's days were numbered, even though he attempted to force the other band members to choose him or Steven. Raymond recalled his exit: "When Joe started going out with Elyssa Jerret and she met this guy, Joe Jammer... But he's the one that put that thought into her head that, 'You got to get somebody else, Ray's not dedicated enough.' It turns out that Twitty Farren, who used to play with me and Steven in William Proud, had a band in Salem, Mass. called Justin Thyme. It was him, Bobby Lidel, Jerry Belligue, and Brad Whitford. So, Elyssa told Joe to check out Brad, and Joe decided he liked Brad's playing better than mine and that I wasn't dedicated enough. So, Tom told me, 'We think that maybe you've got to practice more. We're going to get another guitar.' I didn't really even give a shit at that point. So, Brad basically came from his band into Aerosmith, and I wound up in Justin Thyme. We even opened for them one time, in Revere, Mass., in 1972. I can't remember the name of the place." But he didn't go meekly. Ultimately, it took Steven's direct intervention, prior to a booking at the Savage Beast in Ascutney, Vermont, to make it clear to Raymond that he was out of the band...


(Formerly the Savage Beast)

Boston born Brad Whitford started out on the piano and trumpet, neither of which lasted long. When his father bought a cheap acoustic guitar, Brad co-opted it, finding it more appealing. By his early teens, Brad was informally attached to his guitar, preferring to learn material himself, after taking some basic lessons locally. Sharing a room with his older brother, he was introduced to the songs of the day — and those songs were naturally the ones he'd learn to play along with... After high school, Brad studied at Berklee College of Music for a year while playing in another band, Stray Cat. He dropped out of Berklee, finding what he perceived as a snobbish attitude of the jazz crowd contrary to his rock outlook. And anyway, he wanted to focus on playing music full time. Brad recalled, "I felt that there was something telling me, 'Hey man, you should be playing, not studying...' So, I left Berklee after a year because I thought I would learn a lot more out in front of people, playing my axe every night" (Circus Raves, 11/1975). He then joined Justin Thyme, which included Dwight "Twitty" Farren on lead, a band that Farren had put together following the demise of William Proud. During the summer of 1971, they had a gig scheduled at Lake Sunapee during the summer. Members of Aerosmith turned up to check out Farren's new band, and Brad wowed them. He impressed them more the following night at The Barn when Joe Jammer jammed with Aerosmith and Perry left his guitar on stage. Brad picked it up and proceeded to rip it up with Jammer. A week after the hijinks at The Barn, Joe Perry called Brad to get a feel for his interest joining the fledgling Aerosmith... When Brad moved into 1325, living arrangements there were still cramped, but helped by Steven and Joey having moved to another nearby apartment.

Brad started rehearsing with the band, with Raymond still part of the scene, making his debut during a Labor Day residency at the Savage Beast. He recalled, "My first gig was at a little club in Vermont. The name of the club was the Savage Beast (laughs), and we were playing a rock & roll club show, so it wasn't like a real high-pressure thing, and we'd been rehearsing like crazy. It felt good and it worked out really well. I think we knew we were on the right road" (Glide Magazine, 7/1/2014). Brad's addition had little other than an impact on the music in the autumn of 1971, and they continued in much the same way as they had been... The band's first major break came when they auditioned for George Paige, who was road managing Edgar Winter at the time... After hearing them play he became a believer and agreed to help them, even though he thought the band's internal tensions might quickly result in the band's dissolution. Aerosmith recorded a demo of "One Way Street" which was duly submitted for consideration to the label, not that they had much confidence with their performance of a song that was relatively new at the time. George duly took the tape to Stephen Paley, Epic's A&R contact in New York City, and was flatly rejected... A second break around this time was Aerosmith's debut in New York City, though it's debatable whether it was much of a glorious homecoming for Steven. The band managed to land the opening slot at the Academy of Music on a bill headlined by Humble Pie — which would have pleased Brad — and Edgar Winter's White Trash Band. With the show not being in a school cafeteria or local club, it was, essentially, their professional industry debut...

Following another taste of the big time, the band limped back to Boston and returned to the school cafeterias where they'd been performing. It was a rude awakening to the vagaries of broken equipment, but also an indication that they needed proper guidance and organization to progress. Sometimes, the Gods are fickle — what is given with one hand is taken away with the other. A series of misfortunes followed the band during the winter of 1971/2, some of which were unnecessarily self-inflicted. A steady stream of bookings at the Officer's Club at the Charlestown Navy Yard were cancelled after an incident of petty theft. Not only did the band lose a decent pay day, but the side benefit of a hearty roast dinner thrown in, would have made a nice break from the monotony of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or brown rice that formed the staple of their diets. Then came the departure of their original roadie, Mark Lehman, which should hardly have been surprising with the later admissions of how poorly they had treated him. Once his van had been superseded by the group's purchase of the school bus, his days may well have been numbered anyway. Regardless, his importance to the band from their very conception can't be minimized. He made their first 14 months of existence much easier than it might otherwise have been, performing much of the thankless heavy lifting and lugging equipment and bodies that made their gigs possible. When he left, they still had the bus, but not the road manager/roadie with the experience required, even at a basic level. Gary Cabozzi filled in for the interim, to lug the band out to a gig at Marlborough High School, halfway between Boston and Worcester. But they also lost their rehearsal space at Boston University. And, to add to their woe, the band members still living at 1325 Commonwealth received their first eviction notice. It was a bleak period where the challenges facing the young band were mounting.

Searching for a new place to rehearse, the band were advised to check out the Fenway Music Theater by a connection to the facility's assistant manager. There, at a time morale was at a low, Aerosmith were introduced to John O'Toole. After trying to get them to pay for the privilege of rehearsing there, he allowed them a few days free — in case he liked them. The Fenway had been closed for much of 1971 but had reopened for a single show during the summer (June 30, for Frank Zappa the Mothers with Gross National Productions for two sold-out shows). It then reopened on a more regular basis on December 17. In between bookings, the owners planned to showcase and audition unknown acts on Sundays. A February 1972 date had originally been booked for a T-Rex show, with that band having embarked on their first major U.S. concert tour. However, ticket sales were so poor that the show was cancelled, and the theater's manager asked Aerosmith, who'd been rehearsing there, to perform the date for what audience turned up... After the positive audience response, an impromptu audition followed. Tom continues: "The next day John said, 'There's a manager here to see you.' We couldn't see him, the lone figure in this big theater, but we said to ourselves, 'OK, start playing, he's out there.' So, we played for about half an hour, the lights went off, the curtain closed, and he was gone, but he left behind a management contract. It was pretty exciting — that was really a scene out of some movie! So, he started to manage us" (Shark Magazine, 8/24/1989). The "he" was one Francis "Frank" Connelly...

As Joe recalled, the timing couldn't have been more perfect: "We took the contracts back to our apartment, and we sat down at the kitchen table with the contracts in one hand and the eviction notice in the other. We just looked at each other and shook our heads in disbelief. That's how close it was" ("Walk this Way")... Frank then installed them at engagements at various hotels to tighten up their performance through a grueling series of nightly sets. As he told Steven at the time, the multiple sets nightly weren't for his benefit, but for the benefit of the rest of band. They simply lacked the performance experience that Steven had already earned. It also reinforced that the club grind was not something they wanted to be doing. The band focused on their job — making music and writing and refining the arrangements of their original songs. Following this period of woodshedding, the band returned to New York City to perform a showcase at Max's Kansas City. There was no interest, though Aerosmith also opted not to enter the same glitter scene that New York Dolls were part of; performing at venues such as the Mercer Arts Center, Kenny's Castaways, and the Popcorn Pub... In mid-1972, Aerosmith still weren't much welcome outside of New England, and, shockingly, they only played their first billed non-BU show in Boston on May 20 (filling in at the Fenway on Feb. 26 doesn't quite count).

Connelly, who drove the band to gigs in his car once their bus finally died, also obtained rehearsal space for the band at Boston Garden. They were using that space when the Rolling Stones returned for a pair of shows, July 18–19, 1972. He also had the band rehearse at Caesar's Monticello in Framingham. Managing a band in Boston was one thing, getting them a national record deal was an entirely different proposition, and Frank knew his limitations. Part of his skill was knowing the right people, and he was already close with Steve Leber. Steve had been the head of the William Morris Agency music division but had broken off to partner with David Krebs. They formed Leber-Krebs... in early 1972.... Leber-Krebs were interested in Aerosmith and made them their second signing (Record World, 12/13/1975) ... After further woodshedding by the band, Leber-Krebs setup a showcase for Columbia's Clive Davis and Atlantic's Ahmet Ertegun at Max's... Ahmet wasn't overly impressed with Steven's very obvious parallels with Mick Jagger, and regardless, Atlantic were already the distributors for Rolling Stones Records (via Atco) and had a solid rock band roster. Most importantly, he felt that Aerosmith weren't quite ready for a record deal and needed another year of development. That was a blow to the band in one sense, Atlantic was the rock label powerhouse of the time, while Columbia was better known for softer acts such as Barbara Streisand, Simon & Garfunkel, and Chicago. Ultimately it didn't matter, Clive was more than impressed with them, as later immortalized in "No Surprize..." With Aerosmith, Columbia had a hard rock act that would present new challenges.



AerosmithOnTour.com is an unofficial & unsanctioned fan website/book project
that is NOT affiliated with the band, the individual band members, their management, record labels
or their business entities, past or present, in any manner whatsoever. This project is a respectful
tribute documenting their touring history.

Many images/reviews/quotes used under U.S. code TITLE 17, CHAPTER 1, § 107, "Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use." This site HAS a registered DMCA agent.

Original content © 2021-2024 -- All Rights Reserved. Contact.