Before he got his wings as Aerosmith bassist, Tom Hamilton was just another typical American teenager inspired by the Beatles to grow his hair long and play rock 'n' roll music.
And, who knows, if it weren't for George Hamilton (the musician's strict Air Force father; not the perfectly tanned movie star), Aerosmith might not have ever happened at all or, at least, not be the same rock 'n' roll juggernaut fans having been flocking to see for the last 40-plus years.
“My dad and I were at odds for sure. He was a military guy, his way being the way. Everybody conformed to it in the home and then all of a sudden he found himself with this 16-year-old kid who wanted to grow his hair long. He demanded that I didn't do it and I politely refused. So I was invited to leave the house, which I did,” Hamilton, 60, said Tuesday from his hotel room in Montreal, Canada. “And I went to spend the summer on my own bumming around and having a blast playing in a band with Joe Perry.”
In the summer of 1970, The Jam Band (featuring Hamilton and Perry) was playing a gig at The Barn in Sunapee, N.H. Also playing that day was Chain Reaction with Steven Tyler, not on lead vocals but drums. Unbeknownst to any of them at the time, their chance encounter in many ways changed their respective lives and, more importantly, rock 'n' roll forever.
“Steven was fed up with what he was doing,” Hamilton recalled. “He loved our energy because we used to turn our amps up all the way and play really fast songs. And that's all we really cared about. And Steven thought we were really crude, but combined with his melodic knowledge and his theory background, we had a good combination there. We joined up. He was the professor for sure. And he was much the guy who knew how to get a band sounding great, a lot of details that we never really cared about before, like playing quiet when the singer's singing, for instance.”
On Nov. 6, 1970, Aerosmith played its first gig at Nipmuc Regional High School (now Miscoe Hill Middle School) in Mendon and treated the adolescent crowd not to originals but stellar covers (including The Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin), Hamilton said.
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