Why Did Steven Tyler & Joe Perry Fight at Aerosmith’s First Show

steven tyler and joe perry

Like many musicians, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith has experienced a fair share of disagreements with band members. The band’s journey began with their first concert, which took place on November 6, 1970, in the gymnasium of Nipmuc Regional High School, located about an hour outside Boston.

Guitarist Joe Perry’s mother helped arrange this performance, given her connection to a nearby school.

The band’s setlist was primarily composed of cover songs during that debut show. While not precisely raucous, the audience seemed reasonably entertained, as Joe Perry recalled in his 2014 book, “Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith.”

However, tensions arose during the performance. Steven Tyler, the charismatic frontman, repeatedly implored Joe Perry to lower his guitar’s volume. Perry explained his perspective: “I wasn’t cranking up the volume to provoke Steven. I was merely striving for the right balance that defines rock ‘n’ roll.”

He added, “We were using amplifiers similar to those favored by the bands we admired when playing in venues of this size. Sometimes, I think Steven viewed this volume adjustment as a competition of egos. But my stance remained consistent: What’s the point of being in a rock band if you don’t want to play loud?”

No matter how much Tyler insisted, Perry didn’t back down. “I knew there was no way in hell to lower the volume and keep the band on the edge.” For Perry, it was all about making the music right. He needed his guitar to be loud enough to match the drums. So, he had no plan to reduce the volume whatsoever.

Tyler’s objections regarding the volume level would resurface in the future, but Perry believed that Tyler was missing the bigger picture. “If Steven was genuinely concerned about preserving his voice, as he often claimed, why did he frequently strain it by screaming after our shows?”

As “Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith recounted,” this power dynamic was evident from the band’s earliest rehearsals.

Bassist Tom Hamilton recalled those formative days, saying, “[Tyler] had an exceptional ear and didn’t miss any of my mistakes, and there were many. His manner of offering criticism was demanding and imposing. It felt like a rock ‘n’ roll boot camp run by a stern drum major. In a short time, I developed a noticeable inferiority complex.”

Surprisingly, this dynamic that included challenges also bonded the band together, particularly the relationship between Tyler and Perry. Steven Tyler eloquently expressed this in his book, “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir.” For Steven, Perry’d become the brother he wanted throughout his life.

“Right from the outset, we had a fierce and competitive relationship—a driving force,” Tyler wrote. “My connection with Joe is intricate, competitive, filled with tension, and incredibly fascinating, albeit with its fair share of hair-raising moments. There will always be an undercurrent of ongoing tension and moments of intense hostility, jealousy, and resentment. But, well, that’s how the big machine works.”

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