Aerosmith’s first-ever tour van was featured on a recent episode of American Pickers after being discovered by hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. The 1964 International Harvester Metro, with the band name painted on its side, had spent decades rusting in a woodland near Chesterfield, Mass. The episode, titled “Roll Like a Rock Star,” first aired on July 30 and is available to watch on demand via History.com.
Wolfe and Fritz were told that the vehicle was already there when the current property owner took possession. The previous owner was said to have had some connection with Aerosmith, although it wasn’t clear what that might be. In order to secure some provenance, Wolfe made contact with his friend Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.
Auerbach passed pictures of the van to Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, who in turn contacted co-founding guitarist Ray Tabano, who was replaced by Brad Whitford in 1971 but remained connected with the band for some years afterward. Tabano lives nearby, so he came to see the van and confirmed it was the real deal – even bringing a photo of himself seated inside.
“I’m afraid to say how long it is, but it’s been like 40 years since we’ve been in this thing,” Tabano said, describing the van as Aerosmith’s “rolling hotel” in their early days. “We’d drive from Boston up to New Hampshire for $125 [show fee],” he added. “Then after the gas, the tolls, and the food and back, we’d make like $3 apiece. … It just reminded me of the humble beginnings and I look at where (the band has) gone today — it’s just amazing.”
Aerosmith will appear on NBC’s Today on Aug. 15, with high expectations that they’ll make an announcement related to their upcoming 50th anniversary. Wolfe and Fritz paid $25,000 for the band’s former vehicle. It remains to be seen what will happen to the van.