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Watch Aerosmith Perform Their First Major Hit Live on TV in 1974

Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer (drums), Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith perform on 'The Midnight Special" in 1974.
Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer (drums), Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith perform on 'The Midnight Special" in 1974. (Image credit: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, Aerosmith formed in the early ‘70s before releasing their eponymous debut long-player in 1973. The Aerosmith album spawned the band's first hit single “Dream On” – a song penned by vocalist Steven Tyler when he was still a teenager.

By the time Aerosmith appeared on NBC’s late-night music show The Midnight Special in ‘74 the “Dream On” lead single had come and gone. And while the band had become well-known in the Boston area as a result they were yet to break nationwide. However, following the single’s rerelease in '75, “Dream On” eventually became a top-ten Billboard Hot 100 hit in '76 – several years after Aerosmith's formation.

Dream on indeed!

This historical clip from '74 captures the young band performing “Dream On” live as they stand poised to make the leap from local starlets to national hard rock heroes. The following year would see Aerosmith release what would become their most successful album to date: Toys in the Attic.

Guitar players will appreciate the P-90 classic rock tones emanating from both guitarist’s amps. While Brad Whitford is playing a single-pickup sunburst Gibson Les Paul Junior, Joe Perry has opted for a dual-pickup Les Paul Special.

Brad Whitford playing a single-cutaway Gibson Les Paul Junior

Brad Whitford playing a single-cutaway Gibson Les Paul Junior (Image credit: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

Ubiquitous across Gibson’s range of electric guitars when they recommenced production just after the war, the P-90 is an incredibly versatile pickup and is still proving popular today. 

P-90s were somewhat eclipsed by the PAF humbucker from the late ‘50s onwards, although they appear to be making a huge comeback in recent years as people are rediscovering their charms.

With a cooking tube amp, P-90s are able to produce a huge range of very musical tones – from chiming cleans to singing leads – via the guitar’s onboard controls, as demonstrated during Whitford and Perry’s amazing performances here.

Joe Perry playing a double-cutaway Gibson Les Paul Junior

Joe Perry playing a double-cutaway Gibson Les Paul Junior (Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns)

Browse Aerosmith's back catalog here.

Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros, and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist magazine, MusicRadar, and Guitar World, as well as contributions for specialist books and blogs. He is also a lifelong musician.