New 'Guitar Hero' to feature site of Aerosmith's first show
Aerosmith may only play huge arenas and stadiums now, but the Boston band had to start somewhere, and that first gig took place at none other than the Miscoe Hill School gymnasium.
The location, which was the Nipmuc Regional High School gymnasium at the time, is gaining prominence again as it is featured in the new "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith" game, according to a story on the band's Web site.
Fans of the band and the game at Miscoe Hill School, from students right up through the principal, said they are pumped that the school will find itself in millions of homes when the game is released in June.
Roy Spindel, a counselor at the school, was at the first show back in 1970, when he was a Nipmuc student.
"I remember being blown away by their sound," Spindel said. "When they were playing, it seemed obvious they were going to go some place. All I could think of was, 'this is what it must feel like when the Rolling Stones play.' They sounded like they had been together forever."
The show probably cost about a dollar, Spindel said, adding that his brothers' band was supposed to play that night but they were bumped for Aerosmith.
After the show, some stories started to come out about the band's behavior, or misbehavior.
"Didn't they steal our T-shirts?" asked Darren Moore, a seventh-grader at the school.
Lead singer Steven Tyler grabbed a Nipmuc jersey from the locker room, wore it on stage and may still have it to this day, said Richard Grady, a social studies teacher at Miscoe Hill.
"I don't think they were intended as souvenirs," Spindel said, laughing.
The band also seems to have brought in some wine and played a little louder than expected, Grady said.
"It was apparently supposed to be low-key, like a sock hop," said Grady, who teaches local history in his classes and includes a section on Aerosmith.
The band's amplifiers were probably about 6-feet tall, Spindel added.
"Their volume was very loud," he said. "You could hear all the notes of their sound. They appeared to be so polished."
Now "Guitar Hero" fans will get a chance to rock the gymnasium as Aerosmith did. The game will take fans to different venues throughout the band's career, according to the Aerosmith Web site.
The "Guitar Hero" game series puts players on a virtual stage, where they play along to popular songs using a specialized guitar controller.
Kaitlin Massey, 13, has already pre-ordered the game.
"I think it's kind of cool," Massey said. "(Tyler) is a rock star and he was in this town."
Megan Palinkas, another "Guitar Hero" fan, said she also likes the historical element of it.
"We're a small town," said Palinkas, 13. "Being able to have this on 'Guitar Hero' is a major thing for our school."
Miscoe Hill Principal and Aerosmith fan Roseanne Kurposka said she is excited about the game.
"Knowing someone from this area achieved so much is inspiring for the kids," said Kurposka. "It's a real-world connection."
Kurposka saw the band perform last year and plans to sing along when her sons pick up the game.
"I always have this little glimmer of hope that they will come back here some day," she said.
Tyler, who had been in the band Chain Reaction which had opened for the Yardbirds, heard Jam Band with Joe Perry and Tom Hamilton in 1969 at a Sunapee, N.H., gig.
He liked what he heard and together they formed Aerosmith, which had its first show at Nipmuc, according to Aerosmith.com, the band's official site.
Grady said Joe Perry went to Hopedale High School and Perry's mother worked at Hopedale High School and was friends with someone who worked at Nipmuc Regional High School and she helped make a connection that led to their first show.
Joey Cramer joined the band in 1970 and Brad Whitford joined in 1971.
After a tumultuous time, in 1984, the original Aerosmith group reunited, and rehearsed at Glen Ellen Country Club in Millis, according to the Web site.
The band played at the school again, shortly after the first performance, this time in the auditorium. Aerosmith also rocked the town halls in Upton and Hopedale, among other local venues, before becoming the self-proclaimed "America's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band."
"We're pretty pleased," Grady said. "One of our claims to fame is their first concert was at our school."
(Paul Crocetti can be reached at 508-634-7583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)