Sunday, December 9, 2012

Remembering Aerosmith playing the Hyatt Sarasota ballroom

Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler greets the crowd at the Hyatt Sarasota. Photo courtesy of the Sarasota Film Festival.

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It has been nearly a decade since one of the most legendary rock shows in Sarasota-Manatee history.

For me, it's doubtful any local performance will ever come close to matching the magnitude of seeing an arena-filling band play such a small room.

And I almost missed it.

No one took the rumor seriously. Aerosmith at the Hyatt Sarasota? Yeah, right.

But I was there nonetheless in February of 2003 for the Sarasota Film Festival's "Late Night UnWrap Bash." A friend had secured me a press pass so I figured it would be fun.

Maybe Steven Tyler or Joe Perry would arrive to honor their longtime record producer Jack Douglas, who was being given a career achievement award by the festival.

But the idea of Aerosmith -- all five original members -- appearing seemed highly unlikely.

A performance by the band seemed absurd.

Even Sarasota-based promoter Barbara Strauss, who had been asked to oversee security for the film festival show, didn't think it would happen. In fact, when Sarasota Film Festival honcho Mark Famiglio told her his plan she pretty much laughed in his face.

"Aerosmith will never play," Strauss recalled telling Famiglio during a phone conversation I had with her last week.

She added, "In my mind, they were never going to play."

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