That time at Aerosmith in Vancouver when Joey Kramer’s hallowed drumstick got snatched away

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 30, 1997

By Steve Newton

At the climax of Aerosmith’s two-hour-plus concert at the Coliseum last Saturday (October 25), muscular skin-basher Joey Kramer emerged from behind his rotating drum kit, trotted to the front of the stage, and jubilantly hurled one of his drumsticks into the roaring, near-capacity crowd. Seeing as my chances were about 12,000-to-one of catching the prized strip of lumber, I wasn’t that interested, but as it soared high, end over end, I realized it was headed toward my section of the old hockey rink. A second later it was arcing down right toward me, so with glorified visions of nabbing a lifelong souvenir in mind, I reached out to claim the trophy…only to have the tall guy next to me casually throw up a hand and snatch it away.

It was my supposed buddy Bones, who wouldn’t even have been there if it hadn’t been for my spare reviewer ticket. “All right! Cool!” he exclaimed, inspecting the Zildjian-brand stick to find it emblazoned with Kramer’s name and splintered from his recent workout on the encore of “Walk This Way”, which made it extra special. Thanks to my so-called friend’s wicked catching hand, there’s one less rock collectible in my office, but that’s what I get for slagging Aerosmith’s latest CD, I suppose.

Even though I’m no fan of its current Nine Lives release, I wasn’t about to miss Aerosmith’s most recent Coliseum gig. I’d seen them play that same venue 20 years ago on the Draw the Line tour—with a Bon Scott–led AC/DC warming up!—plus three or four times since, and each time they’d gotten stronger as a live act. They continued that tradition last weekend with a spotless 23-song marathon that mixed gritty ’70s gems such as “Back in the Saddle” and “Same Old Song and Dance” with today’s slick crotch-pop ditties (“Pink”) and mainstream power ballads (“Hole in My Soul”).

On a smartly designed stage decorated with red cats and fierce green cobras, Steven Tyler proved to be a hard-rock ringmaster of the finest sort, and it’s amazing that the 49-year-old guy can still sing—or screech, as the case may be—as effectively as ever. The loose-limbed dynamo may have originally copped his stage moves from the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, but they’re all his now, and more than 30 years of performance have honed them to raggedy perfection.

But while Tyler is the hyperactive frontman of the band, guitarist Joe Perry still cuts the ultimate Rock God figure, and his fashionable choice of duds for the night—long black gunslinger’s coat and black leather pants—didn’t hurt matters any. No wonder the swarms of curvaceous vixens given special access to the front of the stage seemed about ready to storm the swarthy idol’s barricades.

Partway through the gig Perry mentioned the abundance of tunes on the set list that were recorded in Vancouver, and before taking the lead-vocal spot on a cover of Peter Green’s “Stop Messin’ ’Round”, he dedicated that blues-rock classic to local producer Bruce Fairbairn, who helmed three of the group’s top-selling CDs over a seven-year period. Tyler also offered some complimentary asides about our city, remarking on how it’s the home of—among other things—The X-Files and “the best titty bars in the world”.

I’m not sure which of those two we’re supposed to be most proud of, but if all the rain-drenched titty bars in town pack up and move to sunny L.A., at least we’ll know which monotonic FBI truth-seeker to blame it on.

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POSTSCRIPT: as you can see from the accompanying photo, I now have ownership of the Joey Kramer drumstick. My “so-called” buddy Bones is a lawyer, and after reading the review he threatened to sue my ass for libel if I didn’t accept its return as a peace offering.

So I did.

To hear the full audio of my interviews with Joe Perry from 1988 and 1993–and my interview with Tom Hamilton from 1983, when Perry wasn’t in the band–subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 275 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

Simon Townshend, 1983
John Bush of Anthrax, 1993
Aldo Nova, 1983
Steven Adler from Guns N’ Roses, 2011
Mick Ronson, 1989
Tom Morello, 2011
Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers, 1993
Colin Hay of Men at Work, 1983
Mark Kelly of Marillion, 1986
Luther Allison, 1995
Lee Rocker from the Stray Cats, 2007
J. Geils from the J. Geils Band, 2006
Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, 1997
Jason Newsted of Newsted (and Metallica), 2013
Marshall Crenshaw, 2013
Dan Hartman, 1984
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Joe Jackson, 2003
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David Ellefson of Megadeth, 1992
David Lee Roth, 2003
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John Popper of Blues Traveler, 1991
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 2012
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1993
Ellen McIlwaine, 2001
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J.D. Fortune of INXS, 2006
Fernando von Arb of Krokus, 1984
Gary Holt of Exodus, 1985
Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses, 1992
Scott Ian of Anthrax, 2012
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Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, 1985
David “Honeyboy” Edwards, 2003
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Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, 2001
Jeff Keith of Tesla, 1988
Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton of Arc Angels, 1992
Marc Bonilla, 1992
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Dewey Bunnell of America, 1983
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Keith Strickland of the B-52s, 2008
David Johansen of the New York Dolls, 2005
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Tommy Shannon of SRV & Double Trouble, 1998
Alejandro Escovedo, 1997
Billy Duffy of the Cult, 1989
Dave Martone, 2020
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, 2006
Joss Stone, 2012
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, 2005
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, 1984
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Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joe Satriani, 1990
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Alex Van Halen, 1995
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
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Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
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Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
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…with hundreds more to come

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