How ‘American Pickers’ Saved Aerosmith’s First Tour Van
American Pickers star Mike Wolfe said it was a rewarding experience to discover, buy and preserve Aerosmith’s first tour van, before giving it back to the band.
Last year, producers of the History network show revealed the vehicle had been discovered after 40 years of rotting in remote woodland, and that it would be the subject of an upcoming episode. That episode was broadcast this week.
“As far as connecting with the band, that was obviously a pipe dream, because I didn't know they would care about it so much,” Wolfe told Billboard in a new interview. “That's the cool thing about this whole thing. Once [we] made contact with the band, they were very interested and excited. … The fact that they had such a strong connection to it says a lot about their character and honoring their past. Those guys have lived a thousand lives, you know? That they all were interested in it was huge. It wasn't just one of them, it was all of them as a group fucking beyond excited about it.”
You can watch a clip from the episode below.
His understanding of the ancient van’s history was that Aerosmith had lost it in a falling-out with its owner – the character depicted on its side – but during production they spoke of him very highly, leading to the hope that they might be able to reconnect with him. Originally, 45 minutes had been scheduled to shoot the band members alongside the vehicle, but they spent more than two hours sharing memories about it.
Wolfe said they were insistent that it should be preserved in its '70s working condition rather than restored to factory condition. The decision showed they cared about their past and their fans' feelings.
“Joe [Perry] and his wife, and Steven [Tyler] and his girlfriend, sat in the back of that van for I bet an hour and a half talking,” Wolfe said. “On the floor. They did not want to get out of that van. … And everybody was letting them do their thing and be alone. I kept looking over there, the backdoor was open, and was like, ‘That's so fucking cool, man.’ To be able to facilitate and create that space for them is pretty cool because they created so much for all of us, so it was neat to give something back to them.”
Wolfe also credited Aerosmith with the generosity of their spirit. “They could have said to me, ‘Hey man, we want the van, we're going to buy it, and we'll have someone handle it ourselves,’" he noted. "But they trusted us from the beginning to the end, which is huge.”