Boston is an American rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, who had their most notable successes during the 1970s and 1980s. Centered on multi-instrumentalist founder and leader Tom Scholz, who played the majority of instruments on the debut album, the band is a staple of classic rock radio playlists. Boston's best-known works include the songs "More Than a Feeling", "Peace of Mind", "Foreplay/Long Time", "Rock and Roll Band", "Smokin'", "Don't Look Back", "A Man I'll Never Be", and "Amanda". They have sold more than 75 million records worldwide, including 31 million albums in the United States, of which 17 million were from their self-titled debut album and seven million were for their second album, Don't Look Back, making them one of the world's best-selling artists. Altogether, the band has released six studio albums over a career spanning over 40 years. Boston were ranked the 63rd best hard rock artist by VH1.
Before the debut album
Tom Scholz first started writing music in 1969 while he was attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he wrote an instrumental, titled "Foreplay". While attending MIT, Scholz joined the band Freehold, where he met guitarist Barry Goudreau and drummer Jim Masdea, who would later become members of Boston. Vocalist Brad Delp was added to the collective in 1970. After graduating with a master's degree, Scholz worked for Polaroid, where he used his salary to build a recording studio in his basement, and to finance demo tapes recorded in professional recording studios. These early demo tapes were recorded with (at various times) Delp on vocals, Goudreau on guitar, Masdea on drums, and Scholz on guitar, bass and keyboards. The demo tapes were sent to record companies, but received consistent rejections. In 1973 Scholz formed the band Mother's Milk with Delp, Goudreau, and Masdea. That group disbanded by 1974, but Scholz subsequently worked with Masdea and Delp to produce six new demos, including "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". Scholz stated they finished four of the six by the end of 1974, and they finished "More Than a Feeling" and "Something About You" in 1975. Scholz played all the instruments on the demos, except for the drums, which were played by Masdea, and used self-designed pedals to create the desired guitar sound. The violin-like sound of the guitars was created in the early 1970s by Scholz.
This final demo tape attracted the attention of promoters Paul Ahern and Charlie McKenzie. Masdea left the band around this time. According to Scholz, the managers insisted that Masdea had to be replaced before the band could get a recording deal. Years later, Delp told journalist Chuck Miller: "[Jim] actually told me he was losing interest in playing drums. I know Tom felt very bad when the whole thing happened. And then, of course, we started getting some interest." Scholz and Delp signed a deal with Epic Records after Masdea's departure, thanks to Ahern and McKenzie. Before the deal could be finalized, the band had to do a live audition for the record company executives. The duo recruited Goudreau on guitar, bassist Fran Sheehan and drummer Sib Hashian to create a performing unit which could replicate Scholz's richly layered recordings on stage. The showcase was a success and the band agreed to put out ten albums over the next six years.
In addition to the firing of Masdea, the record label insisted that Scholz re-record the demo tapes in a professional studio. However, Scholz wanted the record to be recorded in his basement studio so that he could work at his own pace. The label agreed, and offered to split the producer's royalty with Scholz. Upon request of Scholz, Masdea played drums on the track "Rock and Roll Band", and the instrumentation was recorded in Scholz's studio. The multitrack tapes were then brought to Los Angeles, where Delp added vocals and the album was mixed by John Boylan. It was then that the band was named "Boston", by suggestion of Boylan and engineer Warren Dewey.
The debut album, Boston, released on August 25, 1976, ranks as one of the best-selling debut albums in U.S. history with over 17 million copies sold.
During the late summer and early fall of 1976, Boston attracted publicity due to the record sales. However, there was "a conscious effort to de-emphasize Scholz as the total mastermind behind Boston". After opening for Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, Foghat and others in the autumn, the band embarked on a headlining tour in the winter and spring of 1976–1977 to support the album. This helped establish Boston as one of rock's top acts within a short time, being nominated for a Grammy award as a "Best New Artist". Boston was the first band in history to make their New York City debut at Madison Square Garden.
The album spawned three singles, "More Than a Feeling", "Long Time", and "Peace of Mind", all of which made the national charts. Additionally, the album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the charts for 132 weeks.
Don't Look Back (1978)
Despite having problems with manager Paul Ahern, being caught in the middle of a fight between Ahern and his business partner Charles McKenzie, and doing most of the recording work alone, Scholz completed the second Boston album two years after the debut album's release. The second album, Don't Look Back, was released by Epic in August 1978.
At the time this was considered a long gap between albums, but Scholz still considered Don't Look Back to be a rush job and was unhappy with the album's second side in particular. Overall, Don't Look Back sold about half as well as the debut album, eventually selling over 7 million records.
Another tour followed, and the album's title track became a top-5 hit. Additionally, two other singles, "A Man I'll Never Be" and "Feelin' Satisfied", went top 40 and top 50, respectively. Despite the success, Scholz's relationship with Ahern completely deteriorated. Delayed by technical renovations to his studio, Scholz eventually began the process of working on Boston's third album, determined to complete the album at his own pace and up to his demanding standard.
Don't Look Back (1978)
Third Stage (1986)
Walk On (1994)
Corporate America (2002)
Life, Love & Hope (2013)
Tom Scholz – lead and rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals (1976–present)
Gary Pihl – rhythm and lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (1985–present)
Curly Smith – drums, percussion, harmonica, backing vocals (1994–1997, 2012–present)
Jeff Neal – drums, percussion, backing vocals (2002–present)
Tommy DeCarlo – lead vocals, keyboards, percussion (2008–present)
Tracy Ferrie – bass guitar, backing vocals (2012–present)
Beth Cohen – keyboards, vocals, rhythm guitar (2002, 2012, 2015–present)