Aerosmith performed an unannounced set on Nov. 21, 1991, at a small bar in Springfield.
They just happened to be passing through town while on tour, and hadn’t planned on taking the stage that evening. Then the owner grabbed the mic while Aerosmith were happily occupying one of the booths at Moe’s Tavern.
At the time, the entrepreneurial bartender Moe Szyslak was suddenly one of the hottest names in mixology. He’d created a drink named the Flaming Moe, and the mysterious cocktail suddenly becoming nightlife’s hottest craze. Lines began wrapping around the bar, which changed its name to Flaming Moe’s in honor of the popular drink. Celebrity clientele began frequenting the previously unheralded watering hole.
“Ladies and gentlemen, some new buddies of mine stopped by tonight,” Szyslak announced to the filled-to-capacity room. “Maybe we can get them to come up here. How about a warm Flaming Moe’s welcome for Aerosmith!”
The band initially declined the invitation, but a promise of free pickled eggs coaxed Aerosmith onto the stage. The performance got off to a bumpy start after frontman Steven Tyler accidentally screamed “Hello St. Louis!,” only to be reminded that they were in Springfield. Still, the band was soon doing what they do best, rocking out to their iconic song “Walk This Way.”
Midway through, bassist Tom Hamilton beckoned Szyslak, encouraging him to join Aerosmith on stage. The bartender ended up sharing a mic with Tyler, singing along to the track’s famous chorus.
Szyslak picked up a shaker during a subsequent rendition of “Young Lust,” with drummer Joey Kramer noticeably absent. (It was later revealed that he was on the band’s bus with a fan named Edna Krabapple.) Aerosmith’s set was cut short, however, when an unidentified bald, fat man fell on them from the rafters above.
In the end, the night was just another in a long list of memorable occasions for Aerosmith, but it would prove to be the highlight of Szyslak’s five minutes of fame. Afterward, his secret Flaming Moe recipe was revealed, and the cocktail became available in bars across the nation. With its signature drink no longer exclusive, Moe’s Tavern returned to its previous role as another sleepy American dive bar.
A short documentary on Aerosmith’s impromptu 1991 performance in Springfield can be found below.
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