"Hey, Ron. Aerosmith played here in the early 70s, before they became famous."
That's what my brother-in-law, Ray, told me as we stood in Canobie Lake Park, up in New Hampshire near where he grew up. Canobie Lake Park is a small, charming amusement park that also happens to be very near where Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of the rock band Aerosmith grew up as well.
The park has an auditorium right on the lake and a long history of prominent entertainment, dating back to the early part of the 20th century. Duke Ellington and the other Swing Era jazz bands performed there but what the current generation of New Hampshirites remembers is...
Aerosmith played here, before they became famous!
Even though my career has taken me to Broadway, Carnegie Hall, and an education in classical music composition, when I was 12-13 years old, I played guitar in a rock band and basically idolized Aerosmith. In fact, "Dream On" is still one of my all-time favorite songs. One of the biggest thrills of my professional career was when I was leading a 14-piece jazz band for dancing one night at The Supper Club, an elegant ballroom dancing venue in Manhattan, and saw Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler at one of the dinner tables.
Wow! Steven Tyler is out there, listening to me play!
Well, let's just say that while remaining a consummate jazz professional, I put in just enough rock-style piano riffs on "Mack The Knife" to let Mr. Tyler know that I could play rock and roll - just in case Aerosmith needed a keyboard player for an upcoming tour! lol
Standing there at Canobie Lake Park with my brother-in-law that evening, I couldn't help but imagine how youthful and energetic Aerosmith must have been that night when they rocked the place, way back before their first album had even been released. I mean... people are still talking about it!
They were young, and hungry. Hungry for success, and also hungry to master their craft. To fully investigate the blues and bring it into their era in a way that would get a crowd to its feet night after night after night after night.
Charlie Parker was hungry like this too. So was Beethoven. So was Bruno Mars (and maybe he still is).
Aerosmith - Live - 1973 - Cincinnati