Wednesday, September 16, 2015
TMFW 106 - Aerosmith Bails Out Its Fans (Literally)
Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Aerosmith were formed in 1970 and signed their first record deal in 1972. And they lived like rock stars did in the '70s: their leadman Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry were such heavy drug users that they earned the nickname "The Toxic Twins" (which even has its own Wikipedia entry.) Over only four short paragraphs in his 2011 memoir - excerpted in Rolling Stone - Tyler casually references his then-regular use of cocaine, acid, speed, pot, alcohol, "red hash," "Thai sticks," and "Nepalese temple balls." (I had to Google those last ones to see if they were even real. They are.)
That backdrop brings us to today's TMFW. In October 1978, Aerosmith were at an early high point in their career and were touring in support of their Live! Bootleg album. October 3d found them in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at the Allen County War Memorial Colliseum, which you no doubt know as the home of the Fort Wayne Komets (hockey, since 1952!) and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (basketball).
As this ultimateclassicrock.com entry details nicely, during the show the arena was raided by police. The cops cited a number of attendees for possession of marijuana and arrested other concertgoers for smoking (at a concert in the 70s!) and for underage drinking. The disruption angered Steven Tyler, who called the police "scumbags" and "gestapo" from the stage.
What makes the event today's TMFW is what happened next: the band was so bothered by the overbearing police response to some kids having fun at a rock show that they offered to bail out anybody that was arrested that night. Somewhere between 30 and 63 people were arrested, and nearly 30 accepted the band's help. The tour paid over $4000 in a later court appearance to get the kids out of trouble. Respect to Aerosmith for that.
BONUS FACT 1 - For music fans of a certain age, Aerosmith is famous not for their hard partying ways but for a trio of teenage-boy-fantasy MTV videos. The videos - for "Cryin'," "Amazing," and "Crazy," each starred a then mostly-unknown Alicia Silverstone, with "Crazy" also introducing Steven's daughter Liv. Ms. Silverstone and Ms. Tyler were 17 and 16 years old, respectively, at the time. (Ms. Tyler is one month older than me and has been a crush of mine ever since.)
BONUS PERSONAL FACT 2 - TMFW reader, my old bandmate, and all-around superstar musician Jason is an Aerosmith superfan. In our high school days, he wrote his big U.S. History paper on the story of the band. His paper was surely the only one in the class with Guitar Player magazine in the bibliography.
BONUS PERSONAL FACT 3 - When I was in college, a group of friends and I were convinced that we could make our fortune as sitcom writers. Our idea was a show called Fort Wayne, which would be a sort of bizarro-Friends. Instead of dealing with attractive young people living mostly carefree lives in unrealistically-large New York City lofts, Fort Wayne would focus on regular old people living a mundane existence in a nondescript apartment building in Fort Wayne, Indiana. But there would be hijinks aplenty! It was a pastime of ours to drink beers and, with several down the hatch, start to riff on plot ideas. They were all terrible and we loved them very much.
BONUS CONTENT 4 - My mother loves the song "Janie's Got a Gun." So here's the video, mom.