om Scholz was the brain that founded the ballad and synthesizer laden Boston operation in 1975 and set it up the basement of his Boston, Massachusetts home studio. Scholz first started writing music in 1969 while he was a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he wrote an instrumental track, titled Foreplay. While attending MIT, Scholz joined the band Freehold, where he met guitarist Barry Goudreau and drummer Jim Masdea, who would become members of the future Boston. Vocalsssist Brad Delp was added to the team in 1970, and after graduating with a master's degree, Scholz worked for Polaroid, using his salary to build the aforementioned recording studio in his basement, and to finance demo tapes recorded in professional recording studios. Those tapes, however, fell on deaf ears with respect to record companies.
In 1973 Scholz formed the band Mother's Milk with Delp, Goudreau, and Masdea. By 1974, Mother's Milk disbanded, but Scholz continued to work with Masdea and Delp to produce six new demos, More Than a Feeling, Peace of Mind, rock and roll Band, Something About You (then entitled Life Isn't Easy), Hitch a Ride (then entitled San Francisco Day) and Don't Be Afraid; these efforts finally got the attention of managers and labels. Masdea left the band shortly before the band's signing with 'Epic Records'. A line-up change quickly ensured with bassist Fran Sheehan and drummer Sib Hashian joining the team.
In addition to the firing of Masdea, the record label insisted that Scholz re-record the demo tapes in a professional studio. Scholz fancied recording them in his basement studio so that he could work at his own pace. To keep the record company at bay on the matter, Scholz and producer, John Boylan, hatched a plan to send the rest of the band to the label's Los Angeles studio, while Scholz recorded most of Boston's debut album at home. The multi-track tapes were then brought to Los Angeles, where Delp added vocals and the album was mixed by Boylan. It was then that the band was named "Boston", by suggestion of Boylan and engineer Warren Dewey.
Part pop and part hard rock, Boston's debut quickly flew up the charts to become one of the best-selling debut albums in US history! Propelled strongly by the the ultimate '70s AOR track More Than A Feeling, with flawless harmony that would float then drop into a softened twin guitar attack, the song paved the way for their debut album release to become an immediate success on Christmas of 1976. The self-titled album went to #3 in the US and 11 in the UK, spending 2 years on the US charts and sold 17 million copies along the way; in-fact it would be the largest debut in US history. Although the rest of the record contained well-written material (if you ignore the clichés contained within), none of the remaining tracks were as impressive as More Than A Feeling. Boston would become the first band in history to make their New York City debut at Madison Square Garden.
Inevitably the pressure was on to record a follow-up and soon. The resulting Don't Look Back (1978) was a musically excellent album but it didn't lend itself to repeated listening; their formula from the first was repeated almost note-for-note and was tiring fast and charted mostly as a result of it's elder brother's success, gaining a 1 in the US and a 9 in the UK. Sholz was disappointed with the lower sales (still in the millions though), and about how he felt the album was rushed and released prematurely despite that the gap between this second recording and the first was considered a long one, for the time. He was partially right in his thoughts, for the timing of this release was bad, with it being released right in the middle of the punk rock explosion; cover art depicting space faring guitars and all. Needless to say, it was not the fashion of the day and over-all commercially did half as well as its older brother.
During the next seven years Boston went on a sort of hiatus while legal matters ensued. It all started in 1979, while Scholz was writing new material, but Boston's former co-manager, Paul Ahern, argued that, according to an agreement Scholz had signed years earlier with Ahern, Ahern owned a percentage of all songs Scholz wrote from that point on. Until the matter was resolved, the members agreed to halt Boston production and work on whatever side hustle they wanted. Goudreau went on record a solo album that featured Boston members Delp and Hashian. The album, Barry Goudreau (1980), featured the minor hit single Dreams. Tension formed when 'CBS's' marketing attempted to connect Goudreau's solo album to Boston's signature guitar sound, despite Scholz not having played at all on this album. Scholz objected to the ad copy, but it became irrelevant when 'Epic' dropped promotion on Goudreau's album citing lack of interest. Goudreau left the band in 1981 to form Orion the Hunter. Delp contributed vocals and co-wrote songs on their debut album also, but returned to Boston for the third album.
Ahh, that third album, once again there was a delay when 'CBS' filed a $60 million lawsuit against Scholz, alleging breach of contract for failing to deliver a new Boston within the contractual time limit. As "CBS v. Scholz" played out in court, 'CBS' withheld royalty payments to Scholz, hoping to force him to settle on unfavorable terms. He didn't and the lawsuit's first round was eventually decided in Scholz's favor. In response, Scholz moved the band to 'MCA Records'.
During this same period, Scholz founded the high-tech company Scholz Research & Development (SR&D), to manufacture amplifiers and other musical electronic equipment; its most famous product, the "Rockman amplifier", a device that amplified electric guitar sounds at low volume for home recording, was introduced in 1982.
Third Stage was shelved during the band's split but would finally emerge in 1986 sans Gordreau, who was replaced with Gary Phil. Jim Masdea returned to replace Sib Hashian. This third outing featuring reliable melodic rock songs and airbrushed space scenes on the cover was once again a carbon copy of the previous offerings. The track Amanda would prove to be the most successful part of the album, reaching number 1 in the US singles chart with the album achieving the same, in addition to selling millions of units.
Yet again, however, the Boston formula got tired quickly and after another extended layover they released Walk On in 1994. This time they fared less lucky for the fan's patience had worn thin. It received only a 51 chart position, far less then the predecessors.
The compilation album Boston: Greatest Hits (1997) followed.
November 2002 saw the release of Corporate America on the independent label 'Artemis Records' featuring the largest Boston lineup ever with returning members Delp and Cosmo on guitar and lead vocals, Scholz on lead guitar and organ, and Gary Pihl on guitar, along with new members Anthony Cosmo (rhythm guitar), Jeff Neal (drums) and Kimberley Dahme (bass/vocals). Dahme, Delp, and Cosmo all contributed lead vocals. In 2006, the first two Boston albums appeared in remastered form.
On March 9, 2007, lead singer Delp committed suicide at his home in Atkinson, New Hampshire by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Life, Love & Hope (2013) followed.
Although the band has not recorded (as of time of writing) since, they continue on in live performances under the membership of Tom Scholz (lead and rhythm guitar/bass/keyboards/drums/percussion/backing vocals), Gary Pihl (rhythm and lead guitar/keyboards/backing vocals), Curly Smith (drums/percussion/harmonica/backing vocals), Jeff Neal (drums/percussion/backing vocals), Tommy DeCarlo (lead vocals/keyboards, percussion), Tracy Ferrie (bass guitar/backing vocals) and Beth Cohen (keyboards/vocals/rhythm guitar).
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Boston playing in Hinckley, MN, in 2008. L to R: Scholz, Sweet, DeCarlo, Dahme, and Pihl
Photo by: Matt Becker
CC BY 3.0
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