Just Couldn’t Let ‘Em Go
Mark Blair — Newton, MA
My Brother and I used to go to a music store called Lassalle Music in Watertown, MA. He’s a drummer and I play guitar; my brother used to talk to a drummer who worked there named Larry. He used to tell us that Joe Perry would call from time to time and that the band was planning on selling some of their old equipment from past tours. The Town of Watertown isn’t too far from Waltham, where the band used to rehearse at a place called “The Wherehouse.” The Wherehouse is where Aerosmith recorded their Rocks album.
It was 1984, my last year of high school. I remember coming home one day with my brother Steven and my friend Brian. I was in the dining room playing some records (remember those?) and holding the Aerosmith Live! Bootleg album in hand, and admiring the photos in the gatefold thinking how cool they were. Living in Newton, it was pretty common knowledge that some of the members lived in the area. You would hear things like, “I saw Joe Perry and his wife”, or “I saw that tall blond guy from Aerosmith at the mall.”
My brother Brian and I were hanging out one day and he gets a phone call. It’s from his musician friend. He says, “Get your ass down here now. We’ve been talking to Steven Tyler and the other members of Aerosmith. They’re all here except for Joey, who is in New York.” So my brother dropped the phone and we ran from Newton corner to Watertown square, about a mile away. While we were running I was saying, “Why are we doing this? They’re not going to be there.” We got to Lassalle music and walked in, immediately went into shock upon seeing Brad Whitford at the counter. We also realized that in the back sound room someone was playing the intro to “Dream On” over and over on different keyboards.
We are all freaking out but trying to remain cool.
We huddled in the corner next to songbook rack saying, “What do we do? What do we say?” I finally worked up the nerve to go over to Brad to ask him for an autograph. As I’m walking over, this tall guy plucking a bass says excuse me because he’s blocking the isle. I’m stunned again because I realize that it’s Tom Hamilton. As I’m heading over to Brad, I start to panic because I’m not sure what I’m going to give Brad to sign. I quickly dug out a piece of paper from my pocket. While I was up at the counter, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry came up and start signing the back of my brother’s jacket. Steven asked me if I’d like my jacket signed too. I say, “No, just this piece of paper is fine.” As he’s signing, I tell Joe that it’s great you guys are back together. He says, “Thanks man.” They left shortly after, all piling into a red Iroc Z-28 Camaro. Suddenly they were gone and I couldn’t believe I had just encountered my favorite rock band in the world.
My favorite Aerosmith show would have to be New Year’s Eve 1984 at the Orpheum Theater. The historic Orpheum Theater had a capacity of around. 2,500 people, at the most. So this show was intimate and up close. My buddy Mark and I left right from work. He had gotten the tickets for us. We had a few drinks before the show and we were feeling good (hey, it was New Years!) and got on the train. After telling everyone on the train that we were seeing Aerosmith, we got to our seats, which were on the floor. Mine were right on the aisle on Joe’s side. Mark Parenteau, a well-known local disc jockey for WBCN at the time, introduced the band, and bang — Joe Perry starts cranking out “Rats in the Cellar”. They played a great set, including “Bone To Bone”, “Back in the Saddle”, “Lord of the Thighs” and “Movin’ Out”, along with many other classics. And they were probably the best live versions I’ve ever heard.
It was Tom’s birthday, and during the show a stripper came out and started dancing around Tom Hamilton. She did splits and kicks and everything you would expect or imagine, right in front of Tom. The other guys in the band smiled and laughed. Poor Tom looked helpless. Later on at midnight, it was the countdown to the New Year. The crew brought out a couch onstage so the wives and band could sit and wait for the ball to fall. The New Year chimed in, balloons fell, and many bottles of champagne were passed around, even to fans in the front rows. Joe broke a guitar, and the band finished the show with “Train Kept a Rollin'”. It was a New Year and it was back to reality. But my reality is that, over the years, I’ve become a huge collector of Aerosmith memorabilia. I have one-of-a-kind items, going all the way back to the beginning. It’s turned into a bit of a passion of mine. I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet the band again and experience some unique moments with band members. Over the years, the band has had its ups and downs, but I’ve stayed true. They are not only a part of local music history; they are a part of my history.