There aren't many songs that are strongly associated with more than one band, but Train Kept A-Rollin' is one.
Originally written and released by bandleader Tiny Bradshaw in 1951, Train Kept A-Rollin' entered the mainstream after The Yardbirds covered it 1965, with Jeff Beck on guitar. The following year they rerecorded it after future Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page joined the band, and Zeppelin themselves would go on to use the song as a set opener on their early tours.
For Aerosmith, who were inspired by The Yardbirds – and who would record their own version of the song in 1974 – it was vital part of their DNA.
"Train Kept A-Rollin'' was the only song we had in common when we first got together," Joe Perry told Guitar World. "Steven's band had played Train and Tom and I played it in our band... I always thought if I could just play one song, it would be that one because of what it does to me."
Eventually history came a-callin', and Aerosmith hooked up with Jimmy Page at the annual Monsters Of Rock Festival in August 1990 to perform the song together.
"I travelled with Aerosmith in their tour bus to and from the show," Page revealed in a social media post. "All of the time on the bus was spent chatting and exchanging stories and at one point Steven Tyler played me the current Red Hot Chili Peppers album and there was much enthusiasm and discussion about music on that journey."
By the time the musicians arrive backstage, that enthusiasm is very much in evidence. Footage on YouTube shows a shirtless Perry and Tyler discussing the setlist, and the conversation veers off in various tangents, many of them Spinal Tap-shaped.
"We should do Mama Kin," says Joe Perry, clearly wired for action. "We'll fucking pummel them."
"Pummel," adds Tyler.
Jimmy Page arrives on the scene, and the three musicians attempt to figure out where he's going to add his solo in Train Kept A-Rollin. It's a circular discussion that begins with Perry telling him to take the third solo, continues as Tyler instructs him to begin after a particular lyric, and concludes as an animated Page finally reduces the risk of further confusion by asking for a visual cue.
Then there's this exchange.
Tour manager: "Steven, we're using your piano."
Steven Tyler: "Good."
TM: "Your little one."
TM: "Couldn't find anything [else] that would fit up there."
ST: "I wonder if I could kick it over?"
TM: "Well, if you want to, but it does seem kinda expensive..."
Page would join Aerosmith onstage for their encore, Train Kept A-Rollin' and Walk This Way. And two nights later he appeared onstage with them again, swapping the 80,000 Donington Park fans for the 650-capacity Marquee on London's Charing Cross Road, as Aerosmith wound up their short UK visit with a secret show.
"This was the third location of this famous blues and rock club; now in Charing Cross Road," said Page. "The previous location was in Wardour Street, where I played with The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, and the original site was in Oxford Street, where I’d been playing in the interval band on the Thursday blues night.
"So actually, I got a chance to play all the Marquee locations, but the interior of the Charing Cross Road location appeared to faithfully replicate the Wardour Street site with the cigarette- and beer-stained carpets and people passed out on the floor!”
Joining Aerosmith towards the end of the set, Page guided the band through another version of Train Kept A-Rollin', and two more Yardbirds' favourites in I Aint Got You and Think About It. They also performed Jimi Hendrix's Red House, and Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song. But the real treat was reserved for anyone lucky enough to be in the venue before showtime.
"Our soundcheck was about five hours long," Perry told Bob Schallau in 2015. "We played every Led Zeppelin and Yardbirds tune we knew with Jimmy. It was just amazing. That was really the high point of it. After getting Donington and that soundcheck under our belts when Jimmy came up to play at the Marquee it was just a ball of fire.
"We had those songs down and we were able to give the fans a real taste of our dream; coming from that generation of being influenced by Led Zeppelin and The Yardbirds. That era was just amazing."