Article Index

ImageIt's only a slight exaggeration. Scholz didn't do the vocals, but he wrote or cowrote every song on the first album, play ed virtually all of the instruments and recorded and engineered all the tracks that secured Boston a record deal with Epic Records (New York)  a deal negotiated by a team he'd hired.

Even the trademark sci-fi theme of the five Boston record covers was Scholz' concept: "The idea was escape; I thought of a 'spaceship guitar.' "

As Scholz built and equipped Foxglove Studio in the basement of his Watertown, Mass., home, he gradually devised and assembled the components that would revolutionize the recording industry. His innovations were born of engineering necessity as he strove to capture the sound in his head and preserve it on tape.

He devised the Rockman line of products to capture and reproduce all the subtleties of his guitar work, replacing the vintage tube circuits that were widely used at the time. Scholz' unique amplifiers and effects boxes used solid-state electronics to emulate the classic "tube amp" sound.

Scholz even formed a company to develop and market his inventions: Scholz Research & Development (SR&D). Regrettably, at least for the 70 people he employed, SR&D was not to continue under his direction.

"I hated it," he said of his brief career as a businessman. Though his company racked up product sales in the tens of thousands, the experience left him cold, especially in light of the events that befell him in the late 1980s as the creative leader of Boston.

Scholz had followed up the debut album with 1978's "Don't Look Back," which had hit No. 1 on the charts. But his record company was dissatisfied with the rate of output it was getting from Boston. In 1982, CBS, the owner of the Epic label, sued Scholz for $20 million in a breach-of-contract complaint. Other suits, by former managers and former band members, plagued Scholz through the early 1990s.

"The [music] ebony porn business would be a good thing, except that it's dominated by drug addicts and businessmen," Scholz said.

He ultimately won the CBS suit. But he sold SR&D in 1995 to Du nlop Corp., which still markets and develops the Rockman line.

Scholz remains well-known in the industry as a producer and recording engineer, albeit as an old-school analog man. Still, he's not looking back.

"My only objective is to record the music in some way that it sounds good when it comes out of the other end of a CD player," he said. "I don't think it's important enough to have a $2,000 microphone on your acoustic guitar; that's actually a pain in the ass."

He noted that his best-known song was recorded with low-budget equipment: "The acoustic guitar on 'More Than a Feeling' was recorded using a $100 imported Yamaha 12-string guitar, through a relatively low-end dynamic microphone [the Electro-Voice RE-17], and the drums were recorded by a few Shure SM57s in a little tiny closet. The whole first Boston album  all of the tracks except for the vocals  was recorded for a cost of a few thousand dollars. That's when I realized that you don't need all that fancy stuff ."

Indeed, Scholz is resistant to the newer technologies that dominate today's recording  the MIDI style of sampling instrumental parts and "flying them in" via PC.

blog comments powered by Disqus