Aerosmith didn’t write “Train Kept a Rollin’,” but they sure made it feel like it was their song since it first appeared on 1974’s Get Your Wings. Within a year of that release, the song had turned into a nearly 20-minute live showcase complete with an epic drum solo by Joey Kramer.
Even though the roots of “Train Kept a Rollin” go back even further than Tiny Bradshaw’s original 1951 version, it was Jeff Beck and the Yardbirds – via Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio’s blistering 1956 version – who first put the song on the radar for most rock music fans. Since then it’s become a jam staple for many bands.
Aerosmith’s connection to “Train Kept a Rollin'” only deepened over the years. Performing beneath a banner featuring the logo of Max’s Kansas City, the famous New York City venue where they frequently performed, the Boston rock legends stormed through a mini-set in Los Angeles in 2002 when they were honored with MTV’s Icon award. The performance culminated with a fiery take on “Train” as the closing credits rolled.
As a band and as solo artists, the members of Aerosmith have performed “Train Kept a Rollin'” with many different musicians over the years. Below we present 15 of those performances, including stage romps with Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper and Guns N’ Roses.
1990: Aerosmith with Jimmy Page
“We’ll bring you out one of your fellow countrymen,” Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler told fans as he introduced guitar legend Jimmy Page at the annual Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington, England, in August 1990. Page, he noted, “Single-handedly whittled out a niche this wide in rock ‘n’ roll history.” The guitarist emerged onstage surrounded by a roar of applause and joined Aerosmith for a pair of songs. They reunited onstage just two days later at London’s Marquee Club, where an audience of 500 saw a special Aerosmith concert. Page came out for a five-song set that tapped further into his history with the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin.
1992: Guns N’ Roses with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry
With his mic stand wrapped in multicolored scarves, Steven Tyler made his presence known within seconds of being brought onstage by Axl Rose in 1992. The singer and guitarist Joe Perry helped Guns N’ Roses on their Paris stop of the Use Your Illusion tour. The Aerosmith members performed two songs, including a version of their “Mama Kin,” which opened the night’s encore.
1995: Led Zeppelin with Aerosmith
When Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were the ones who delivered the induction speech. As Tyler revealed that night, the Aerosmith members had a long connection with Zeppelin’s music, including the time his high school band opened for the Yardbirds in 1966. Thirty years later, they had a chance to repay favors and share the stage with their longtime heroes.
2009: Jeff Beck with Jimmy Page, Joe Perry and Metallica
“Rhythm guitar player heaven” was how Metallica’s James Hetfield described his place onstage with Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Joe Perry. The all-star collective (including Ron Wood, plus bassists Jason Newsted and Flea) then dug into a potent run-through of “Train Kept a Rollin'” during the closing moments of 2009’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
2010: Gov’t Mule with Brad Whitford
Former Allman Brothers Band guitarist Warren Haynes has established a history of wrapping up each year with a themed series of concerts with his band Gov’t Mule. The band’s Dec. 30, 2010, gig at New York’s Beacon Theatre found Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford sitting in for three songs, including “Train Kept a Rollin’.” The guitarists traded riffs, with Haynes nailing Perry’s signature tone.
2012: Aerosmith with Johnny Depp
“I think we need a little help up here,” Steven Tyler told the audience at the Hollywood Bowl in 2012. “Johnny Depp, are you in the house?” The actor and guitarist then walked onstage and embraced Joe Perry. When the band Hollywood Vampires formed with Perry, Depp and Alice Cooper a few years later, Depp’s connection to Aerosmith became even tighter.
2014: Aerosmith with Slash
Aerosmith revealed plans for the Let Rock Rule tour in April 2014: a 20-date run featuring Slash with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators as the opening act. The band played a short set at the Whisky A Go Go to celebrate the announcement, and Slash was on hand to guest on two songs, including “Mama Kin” with a dash of Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” thrown in. They closed out the six-song set with “Train Kept a Rollin’.”
2016: Jeff Beck with Steven Tyler
The Hollywood Bowl audience’s surprised reaction as Steven Tyler joins Jeff Beck for “Train Kept a Rollin'” is half the fun here. The legendary guitarist’s star-studded show also included ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Beth Hart and Buddy Guy. Tyler performed two songs, including a version of Yardbirds’ “Shapes of Things.”
2016: Steven Tyler with Loving Mary
“Country music is the new rock ‘n’ roll,” Steven Tyler declared in 2016 when he finally confirmed details for his long-awaited solo album, a country record. The tour in support of the LP featured Loving Mary as his backing band; the Nashville-based group featured longtime collaborator Marti Frederiksen. Their banjo-graced cover of “Train Kept a Rollin'” was a highlight.
2016: Brad Whitford with Derek St. Holmes
With Aerosmith on break, Brad Whitford reactivated Whitford/St. Holmes, a collaboration with Ted Nugent singer Derek St. Holmes originally put together in 1981 after Whitford left Aerosmith. Their blend remained strong decades later, evidenced by St. Holmes’ scorching vocal and guitar work on this rendition of “Train.”
2018: Joe Perry with Slash and Johnny Depp
Joe Perry has recorded solo albums during Aerosmith breaks for decades. “It’s just fun writing music for the sake of it and then being able to go back with your gang,” he told UCR in 2022. He also found time to play shows with a shifting lineup of friends, including a gig in January 2018 when he took the Roxy stage with Stone Temple Pilots‘ Robert and Dean DeLeo. Guests that night also included Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, David Johansen of the New York Dolls and Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson. For the encore, they leveled up even more, bringing in Slash and Johnny Depp to romp through “Train Kept a Rollin’.”
2019: Hollywood Vampires with Steven Tyler
Hollywood Vampires, Alice Cooper’s ongoing homage to his “dead drunk friends,” has made room for plenty of honorary band members. The Los Angeles audience at the Greek Theatre went nuts as Steven Tyler volleyed the microphone stand from hand to hand in time with the Vampires’ take on “Train Kept a Rollin’.” Perry takes the first blazing solo as the song kicks into gear. This is a version for those who love guitar solos.
2020: Aerosmith with Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp
Drummer Joey Kramer was sidelined for six months with an injury before Aerosmith’s performances at 2020’s annual MusiCares charity benefit and the Grammy Awards. he was hoping to perform at both events, but his bandmates asked him to audition first. He didn’t pass, sued and lost the case. But he did appear onstage with the band when it accepted the MusiCares honors that night, though he didn’t perform when the band played a set that included “Train Kept a Rollin'” with Tyler and Alice Cooper trading off vocals.
2023: The Joe Perry Project
Joe Perry has played sporadic shows with his post-Aerosmith ’80s band the Joe Perry Project over the years. The lineup remains fluid and mostly made up of recruits like Extreme singer Gary Cherone. As Perry geared up for some Hollywood Vampires gigs, he played a short run of Project warm-up dates in April 2023. The set lists featured a mix of solo songs, deeper Aerosmith picks and some favorites from his band’s extensive catalog, including “Train Kept a Rollin’.”