I always loved music from the beginning of my childhood, but I never invested much time into making music a passion of mine. My parents exposed me to many aspects of American culture, but it never really included going to concert halls, buying cassette tapes of modern music and learning to play an instrument. My Mom didn’t have any hobbies, and my Dad had season tickets to the Pittsburgh Steelers for many years, so a lot of our disposable income and time revolved around sports if we went to a large venue. Which I was fine with since I loved sports.
We always hear about and see examples in media where regular schmos with money get to meet or get close to famous people when the true followers of these famous people never get the chance to be close to their idols. And sometimes the regular schmo (In this case me) doesn’t have money but instead inherits a situation that permits this to happen.
In 1997, I was still dating my girlfriend from high school. I’ll refer to her as “Peach” from now on. Peach was going to college north of Pittsburgh and was living off campus with a few roommates. One roommate was a girl who grew up in England who we’ll call “Spice”, since the English group The Spice Girls were at their peak of popularity then. They also had a mutual friend from college who used to hang out over their place all the time, and I’ll call her “#3” to keep the story moving along.
Spice had a boyfriend who was a big Aerosmith fan. Aerosmith came to Pittsburgh’s old Civic Arena in 1997 and he somehow got a hold of seven tickets. These tickets were good seats, far back but off the floor, just enough that you could see everything. The seven that went were me, Peach, #3, Spice, Spice’s boyfriend and another couple. Spice had the idea for her, Peach and #3 to go to the concert wearing skin tight black leather pants. I have to admit, they looked good and I looked like a dope next to Peach. So we settle into our seats, the opening act of Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band starts their set, and Spice wants to run outside and catch a smoke before Aerosmith goes on. Peach and #3 accompanied her down the aisle and off they went while the rest of us hung out in our seats.
Spice’s boyfriend got concerned when the girls weren’t back after the third song of the opening act, and I told him they probably ditched us for some better-looking guys since everyone downstairs with good vision could see them walking around. It turned out that I was half-right.
About thirty minutes later, the girls come running back to us screaming incoherently and it was clear they were happy. Spice stated that some of the Aerosmith roadies saw them and gave the girls better seats for the show. Somehow (And to this day I do not know who bargained this), the girls convinced the roadies to give them two more tickets, one for me and one for Spice’s boyfriend. Thank God he got a ticket, because he was the reason we were there in the first place.
So we told the other couple that came with us that we would meet them after the show, and they were fine with that. We start our walk to the front of the floor, and an usher meets us halfway back to verify we are supposed to be there. He leads us to our seats while a few fans spray the girls with whistles and calls.
Front row. THEE front row. It was a great show. Spice’s boyfriend was so pumped up from being that close to Aerosmith I thought his head was going to explode. I don’t know if he knew Spice was flirting with their young keyboardist, or the fact that guitarist Tom Hamilton camped out in front of the girls for four or five songs. I could care less since I knew I was way over my head. During a Joe Perry guitar solo, the lights dimmed around the other parts of the stage but I was close enough to watch Steven Tyler fall off of it and into the arms of two security guards in the pit. Before the crowd knew he was missing from the stage, the guards threw him back up there like he was a rag doll. He landed perfectly on his feet and took off running like it never even happened. Ten minutes later he’s singing right in front of me and while I’m trying to smack his hand, he moves to his left because he sees the girls! I couldn’t blame the guy.
I couldn’t hear for three days after the show, probably due to me sitting in front of some rather large sound equipment for two hours (It was LOUD. If it was The Who I would have lost my hearing for good). There were about 15,000 people at that show, and out of all of them I was the 14,972nd ranked Aerosmith fan. The 14,972nd ranked Aerosmith fan with one of the 36 closest seats in the arena, thanks to a few roadies that were hypnotized by the leather pants of Peach, Spice and #3.