SUNAPEE - Nearly 700 people lined up last Saturday afternoon in Sunapee Harbor to see what "Aerosmith History Day" was all about. Some even drove ten hours to be at the Sunapee Historical Society, where an exhibit of thousands of early items from "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band" were on display. It was the largest collection of Aerosmith memorabilia in the world and it was the first time anything like this has been shown to the public.
The small Town of Sunapee, NH (population 3,300) is the epicenter of the band's beginning, the spark that led to the explosive boom that would become Aerosmith, one of the biggest rock bands to fill outdoor stadiums and indoor arenas worldwide during their 70's heyday and again during their comeback in the 90's. They are one of the few bands to have actually experienced the kind of success that most bands only dream of - not just once, but twice.
The event began at noon. After a few words from the organizer and contributor of the event, Jonathan Robinson, Aerosmith music came blaring out of the normally quiet building, spilling out into the sticky summer air. Just below the Sunapee Historical Society sign hung a banner painted by local artist Mary Ellen Fleck.
One step inside the Sunapee Historical Society and you were immediately immersed in Aerosmith's world. Their days as a young band, where they played at a private club called “The Barn” in nearby Georges Mills, were captured in photos and press clippings. Article upon article detailing the band's history from the Barn to their downfall and subsequent comeback, covered makeshift walls and filled the pages of several portfolios that fans could flip through. If we had hours it would not have been enough time.
The four hour event hardly provided the time needed to fully appreciate all that Aerosmith History Day offered. Assembled under one roof for the first time was a collection spanning 54 years of the band's history, including tour jackets, rare vintage t-shirts, ticket stubs, matchboxes, laminates and many other items. Dozens upon dozens of newspaper and magazine clippings crowded every inch of wall space, as well as vintage posters. Every available surface contained scrapbooks detailing Aerosmith's rise to fame by way of rare photographs and clippings of full interviews, as well as record and show reviews going back to their 70's heyday. Mom's Ticket Stub
And then there was the man standing behind us. Clearly a fan of Aerosmith, as we spoke he revealed something he'd been holding. "My mother saw Aerosmith at her High School." He said, while presenting a ticket stub to see Aerosmith with Cotton Mouth from Wednesday, February 28, 1972 at Newport High School. "She knew when she saw them that they would be big," he explained. "My mother doesn't keep anything, but she has always kept this stub for sentimental reasons," he said. A Sunapee native, as well as a musician, he was inspired early on by the fact that Aerosmith was birthed in his hometown and went on to huge success.The Barn
It's not news that Aerosmith evolved from the small town of Sunapee, but the amount of memorabilia from that era was a pleasant surprise. As the story goes, Steven Tyler's band, Chain Reaction, who already had two singles and some local success, played a gig at “The Barn” nightclub where The Jam Band, featuring Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton and David “Pudge” Scott, were the house band. Their rendition of Fleetwood Mac's “Rattlesnake Shake” impressed Tyler, and that moment led to the band's formation. It was 1969.
Listen to a song ("When I Needed You") from one of Steven Tyler's early bands, The Chain Reaction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3pJpvqaQ-E
David "Pudge" Scott and the Jam Band
The exhibit also featured part of a collection accumulated over a couple of decades by longtime fan Mark Blair from Massachusetts. Blair said that he was unable to display half of the items he brought, but the items he was showing were iconic pieces of the Aerosmith story, Fans of all ages, both young and old, admired the memorabilia laid out before them. Some of the items Mark had went back to the months before Aerosmith formed, and the previously mentioned Jam Band.
That's where we ran into David "Pudge" Scott.
The Jam Band featured Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton and a young man who played the drums, David "Pudge" Scott. Scott, who was underage at the time, relayed to us how his brush with fame ended with his parents refusal to allow him to drop out of high school. "Of course, they now say then never said that," Scott told us on Saturday. So Pudge had to stay behind when the band decided to head to Boston to feed a bigger music scene. As we spoke, he seemed sentimental, but he agreed that although his life would have been different, had he gone to Boston, he might have gotten caught up in the partying lifestyle the band developed. Known as the "Toxic Twins," it's no secret that Aerosmith indulged at every opportunity. David said he still has his drum kit and plans to bring it back to Sunapee now that he is retired. He is eager to play in the town he grew up in, where he (almost) lived the life of a rock star.Ray Tabano, early Aerosmith and Annie Perry
We didn't have to go far before we also ran into one of Steven Tyler's childhood friends, Ray Tabano, who is one of the founding members of Aerosmith. Ray, who was known as "Crazy Raymond" is a familiar face to many die-hard fans. Tabano played rhythm guitar in the band from 1970 to 1971, but just before the band's rise to the rafters, he was replaced by Brad Whitford, who remains a part of Aerosmith today. He later returned as a member of the crew and he started the band's fan club, writing the newsletters, selling band merchandise and maintaining the band's office. Ray was charming but didn't care to talk about the story he's been telling for more than 50 years, so he directed us to his website: http://crazyraymond.net/bio.html
Also displaying her collection was Joe Perry's younger sister Annie Perry, who had amassed a large number of items over the years. Annie was not the only family member present. Steven Tyler's sister Lynda came to see the collection during the afternoon.The "Family" Tree
Finally, we reached the last display of the event. Robinson had created a limited, first-run printing of 250 copies (signed and numbered) of the "Aerosmith Family Tree" poster. It was available for purchase and it told quite an interesting tale, tying each band member to every other band they had played in. It was no ordinary poster, but it was a sort of treasure map for hard-core fans who really got down into the nitty-gritty details of their favorite band. The Family Tree poster cost $40 and proceeds benefit the Sunapee Historical Society. We expect they will be available for mail order purchase for those who were not able to be at the event.
For additional information about Aerosmith History Day and additional photos of the exhibit, please visit the Facebook Page for the event: https://goo.gl/EvpwrU
A Permanent Museum?
Jonathan hopes to be able to pull this display and its contributors together again. They need to find a space where items can stay in cases and fans can go through the books of articles, ticket stubs, and photographs and take the time to read them. There was talk of perhaps turning the Barn into an Aerosmith History Museum. These ideas have been bantered about before, but the success of this small and minimally publicized event, shows that there is interest. And, although Saturday's event was free, the "Museum" could charge admission. Many of the fans agreed with the idea of a museum in Sunapee, where the band's roots are clear. Although the future looks promising, the ideas on how to exhibit such a large collection will have to be revisited another day.