(Milford Daily News column from 2005.)
Dear Mr. Know-It-All,
You wrote a few weeks ago about Jimi Hendrix performing in Framingham. Didn't Aerosmith perform in
Metrowest, too? P.R., Milford
Indeed they did, P.R. In fact, Aerosmith's very first concert took place in MetroWest, specifically at Nipmuc Regional
High School in Mendon on November 6, 1970. Carl Olson was a history teacher at Nipmuc at the time as well as
the adviser for the sophomore class, which organized the Aerosmith concert. "It was a hard battle to actually get
them there," Olson recalls. "Most dances back then were record hops. Having live bands was kind of an unusual
thing to do. Still, a group of students convinced me to hire the group. Joe Perry (Aerosmith's guitarist) is from
nearby Hopedale and the kids were friendly with him so we convinced the principal to allow us to take 50 bucks out
of the class treasury in order to pay them for the night."
The principal at the time was Wilho Frigard. "He wasn't too enthralled with the idea, but we worked on him long
enough to convince him," says Olson, who is now retired and resides in Medway. "He was kind of hesitant to
spend 50 bucks." While $50 may seem like chump change now for one of rock 'n' rolls premier bands, that money
was put to good use by the group, according to Olson. "If you look in their autobiography, they said that $50 paid
the rent for the apartment in Boston where they were staying back then," he says. The concert was organized as a
fund raiser with admission either 50 or 75 cents, according to Olson. "I'm not sure if we covered all the costs," he
In case you're curious, a good seat for an Aerosmith concert today can exceed $100. According to an Aerosmith
Web site -- and there are a lot of them -- the playlist for that first concert included 11 songs: "Route 66,"
"Rattlesnake Shake," Happenings Ten Years Time Ago," "Movin' Out," "Somebody," "Think About It," "Walkin' the
Dog," "Live with Me," "Great Balls of Fire," "Good Times Bad Times'" and "Train Kept A Rollin'." "They didn't play
many songs but it was loud," Olson recalls. "And the kids loved it, though the adults were a little taken back."
"They performed in the gym to a crowd of about 125 people, which was a good crowd for dances back then. The
kids had a good time."
At a class reunion later, Yankee Magazine talked to the students who were there. The kids at the reunion said how
amazing it was and how nice it was to see kids from the area end up doing so well. Who would have known?
"The most amazing thing, though, is not one single picture was taken that night. It would have been priceless to
have now." Any final thoughts? "It was a very interesting evening."
Dick Grady, a history teacher at Miscoe Hill Middle School in Mendon, has compiled information about Aerosmith,
too. For you continuity fans out there, Miscoe is located where Nipmuc used to be before it moved to Upton. The
gymnasium is now named after Frigard. Grady says the Nipmuc concert almost didn't take place. "The band was
drinking Boone's Farm wine before the concert and almost got tossed," says the Mendon resident. And there were
other shenanigans. "The group changed in the locker room and Steven Tyler (Aerosmith's lead singer)
absconded with a Nipmuc shirt from there and wore it for the concert."
Grady notes that Perry went to Hopedale High School where his mother, Mary, was a physical education teacher.
"Perry had a run-in with the principal at the time, Albert 'Chick' Sayles," he says. "The principal wanted Perry to cut
his hair, but Perry refused and eventually left the school." Apparently Perry didn't hold grudges. When the band
later performed at Boston Garden, he sent a limosine to pick up Sayles and his mother and drive them to the
concert, according to Grady. "Sayles went, too," he says.
For more MetroWest connections, we chat with Dave Meade, who grew up with Perry in Hopedale. "I taught him
his first chords on the guitar and played in bands with him," recalls Meade, who is now a circulation manager for
the Community Newspaper Co., which publishes The Daily News. Meade notes that, following the Nipmuc gig, he
also booked four monthly concerts for Aerosmith at Hopedale Town Hall in 1970 and 1971. Admission was $1.
He booked another concert at the Lakeview Ballroom in Mendon where more concerts took place afterwards. The
venue is now called the Myriad Ballroom.
So what was Perry like in those early years? "He'd just sit in his room and play guitar all the time," says Meade. "I
mean really extensively, and when he wasn't doing that he'd be out looking at other bands."
Want more? Sure you do. Aerosmith performed at Wayland High School, too, and Gail McNeill, a 1971 Wayland
graduate, was there. "It was pretty cool," she recalls. "They played on into the night." The concert is mentioned in
the class yearbook of her sister, Robin, who graduated from Wayland in 1974. "I must have come back from
college for the concert," says McNeill, who now resides in Framingham and runs the McNeill Veterinary Clinic in
Sudbury. A yearbook blurb on Student Council activities mentions the concert: "In November (1973), a spectacular
concert by Aerosmith was sponsored with much success." Why Wayland? Mr K would love to find out. Another
Web site on Aerosmith notes that the group's bass player, Tom Hamilton, resided in Wayland and Weston as a
youth. Perhaps that had something to do with it.
For more concerts, yet another Web site states that Aerosmith performed at the Cricket Lounge in 1972. The
lounge is now the site of a day-care center located near the MBTA station on Plaeasant Street. The band also
performed at Hopedale High School's prom on June 16, 1973, and the Westboro Speedway in Westboro on Aug.
18, 1974, states another site. Now Mr. K is willing to bet his Aerosmith record collection that the band performed at
other venues in MetroWest. If you know of any, just contact yours truly and keep dreaming on. Milford Daily News,
January 23, 2005
Letters from Joe, written at Vermont Academy
Click here to see a picture of Joe and a couple of his buddies in a pre-Aerosmith band.
Joe Perry Biography on IMDb Joe Perry - Wikipedia Aerosmith Family Tree
Dana Francis's Aerosmith Memories Mary Perry HOME
concert was the one above, (submitted by Dave) which ran in the Milford Daily News April 20, 1971. Dave
said the Joneses were the biggest rock band in Worcester County at the time. He hired them to be the
opening band, but he didn’t tell them that. They found out when they got there. "They went into the concert
that night as the Number 1 band in the area. They came out Number 2," said Dave. Attendance that night
was 1044. Thanks to Dave for telling me about the ad. As the one who placed it, he was able to tell me all
these years later the exact day that it was in the paper. I went to the Milford Library the next day, and found it
in the Milford News microfilm on that date. Here's a bit more from Dave.
"The concert was on a Tuesday night. Why Tuesday? It had become something of a tradition to have a rock
concert on the Tuesday of school vacation week at Lakeview. Bill Greene had started that in the sixties. I
think the Rascals played there in 1966, '67 and '68. The Kingsmen played the April date a couple of times,
also. Then it didn’t happen for a couple of years. I called Bill Greene and arranged the Aerosmith/Joneses
concert for 1971. I packed too many people in and after that Bill took over. Ticket prices went up to $2.50,
$2.75, and eventually to $4.50."
Below you can see a bit of what was surrounding the Aerosmith ad. A couple of movie ads that are out of
view were for Patton and M*A*S*H. Part of a Hopedale Boy Scout Court of Honor article can be seen just
above the Aerosmith ad.
Aerosmith 1972 (or 1974, depending on which newspaper
you believe.) Left to right: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom
Hamilton, Steven Tyler (front), and Joey Kramer.
photos from the files of Dick Grady.
Thanks to Dick Grady for sending this one, with
Steven Tyler in the Nipmuc shirt. The others are, left
to right, Tom Hamilton (bassist), Joe Perry, Brad
Whitford (guitarist) and Joey Kramer (drummer).
Thanks to Lois Taylor, Mark Taylor and Dick Grady who all had a
hand, one way or another in saving this Worcester Gazette article
and making it available. According to Dave Meade, Aerosmith and
the Jones played several concerts together at Lakeview, the first
being the one the ad at the top of the page was for - April 20, 1971.
"Walk this way," Joe would say way back in 1961.
Thanks to Fran Coffey and Dave Meade for this picture. Fran gave Dave a copy and Dave gave me
a copy. Thanks to Dave also for the names..
Top row - left to right - Jack Bresciani, Tony Niro, Nelson Thibault, Bobby Stearns, John Durham
Middle, left - Joe Perry Middle, right - Fran Coffey
Bottom row - left to right - Al Tomassini, John Cox, Bruce Wright, Donald Sprague, Bobby "Bubba"
Phillips (Philllips ID by Dick Grady and Bill Wright), Bill Reed
First concert tunes, according to some forgotten website.