The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

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Steven Tyler Inducts Led Zeppelin (Part 1)

In 1966, my band, Chain Reaction, opened for the Yardbirds at Staples High School, in Westport, Connecticut. We all carried our equipment into the hall together; as I recall, I dragged a couple of Jimmy Page's amps as well, so I was a roadie for the Yardbirds, or at least that's how the press took it at the time. Anyway, it was the first time I'd heard them play, and it hit me like a heat-wave. Three years later, in 1969, I saw Led Zeppelin perform at the Boston Tea Party. They ran out of songs after they played their whole first album, so they had to play a bunch of Elvis tunes, because we wouldn't let them get offstage. I just sat cross-legged in the middle section of "Dazed and Confused," and it was so fucking heavy that it made me cry. Another time I cried over Led Zeppelin was an hour later, when Jimmy Page emerged from the dressing room with a beautiful girl on his arm. I would have been very impressed, except it was the girl I had been living with up until that moment, and I was getting an incredible visual of all my clothes being thrown out into the alley on 21st Street. But Jimmy was such a motherfucker onstage, I couldn't hold it against him. Anywho, about the same time, there was this guy called Henry Smith, who was my neighbor in Sunapee, New Hampshire. I was a drummer back then, and he was my drum roadie. He was a good friend; he even cut the sleeves off of his grandmother's fur coat so that I could have something stupid to wear onstage. Well, Henry's the one that got us the gig with the Yardbirds, and all went well until one day he comes up to me, and he just quits. "I got a gig with Zeppelin," he says. I was devastated. Who was going to set up my drums at Murray's Clam Shack at the Brattleboro, Vermont? But once I got over the jealousy, I got really excited, 'cause I knew somebody who was going to work with Led Zeppelin. That was the equivalent of going to the moon with Neil Armstrong, in an Apollo capsule full of babes. And I knew I'd have enough cymbals and drumsticks for the next three years. Eventually, Henry the Horse, as Jimmy and Robert affectionately called him, introduced me to the band. On the first occasion I got to see Bonzo's drum-kit at Electric Ladyland Studios, I could feel the power even without him physically being there. Later, we went over to a sound-check at Madison Square Garden. When I got there, the road crew and the union people were all eating, and the band hadn't arrived yet. The stage was empty, and so were the 19,000 seats. The silence was deafening. I walked out to the stage; I laid down with my head hanging backwards off the edge. I was overwhelmed. I was having delusions of rock and roll grandeur, imagining that I was roaming the countryside, raping and pillaging, disguised as an ambassador of rock and roll. And that's just one of the things we learned from Led Zeppelin. So here we are, I'm still hanging off the edge of the stage; now we get to induct Led Zeppelin into the Hall of Fame.