Setlist History: Aerosmith's 1st Show at Nipmuc High in 1970

On November 6, 1970, Steven Tyler, lead guitarist Joe Perry, bassist Tom Hamilton, drummer Joey Kramer, and rhythm guitarist Ray Tabano rocked Nipmuc Regional High School in Upton, Massachusetts.

In '71 Tabano was swapped out for Brad Whitford and the lineup remained mostly the same throughout their incredibly long career.

The cover of Harry Nilsson's Aerial Ballet.

The name of the band and the Get Your Wings logo was inspired by Harry Nilsson's 1968 album Aerial Ballet, which gave us "One (is the loneliest number)."

"We were listening to this record and I started really getting off on the lyrics," Kramer told Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock radio show. "We started kicking around this work ‘aerial,’ and ‘aerial’ eventually came into ‘aero’ – I don’t know how that happened.”

“And it was like Aeromind, Aerostar, Aero-this, Aero-that; and somebody said ’smith’ – Aerosmith? Wow! And from then on it was all over my high school psychology books and my math books," he continued.

"The question was always, ‘What’s Aerosmith?’ And I would tell people, ‘When I leave high school I’m going to go have a rock ’n’ roll band, and that’s what it’s going to be called. And we’re going to be big and famous, and that’s the scoop.’ And they were all like, ‘Oh, that’s very nice, Joey,” the drummer, who is now 73 years old said.

While the band had most of the important things locked down super early in their career (the name, the logo, the lineup, and the sound), their first gig at the public high school even had a pair of original songs they'd rock throughout most of their career: "Movin' Out" and "Somebody."

Like most young bands, the set that November night during the Nixon Administration contained covers of The Yardbirds, The Stones, Led Zep, and Fleetwood Mac.

But they ended that debut gig with a cover they'd play over 1,000 times, "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" originally by Tiny Bradshaw.

What's impressive about this song is that it was covered by The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Motorhead, Jeff Beck and Van Morrison and allows for each of the artists a chance to imprint their own style on it.

Tiny's version is sweet and bouncy, for example, while Aerosmith's is raunchy and rollicking. The last time they played it was in 2020 when it was their first song of the set for a gig in Vegas.

Sadly there are no known recordings of that first show, but a year later they cut the demo called The Road Starts Hear which was released in 2021, and is incredible.

These men had it all together from the beginning.

Whoever saw that first gig at that high school were blessed. This demo is the closest evidence of what that sound was (which isn't all that different than what they sound like today.

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In September, Aerosmith postponed all of the remaining shows on its Peace Out farewell tour until 2024 because of a vocal injury the 75 year-old Tyler experienced a few days after we wrote about the tour's kickoff.

Bookmark Aerosmith's website for ticket updates.

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Last updated: 22 Feb 2024, 06:12 Etc/UTC