Boston is a best-selling American rock band that achieved its most notable successes during the 1970s and 1980s. The music of Boston is often cited as having been influential in the music industry's move from hard rock in the 1970s to the "power pop" that would dominate the 1980s. Centered on guitarist, songwriter, and producer Tom Scholz, the band's works best known works include the singles "More Than a Feeling", "Peace of Mind", "Foreplay/Long Time", "Don't Look Back", and "Amanda".
Other notable hit songs that are still a staple of classic rock radio playlists include "Rock & Roll Band", "Smokin'", "Hitch a Ride", "Feelin' Satisfied", "A Man I'll Never Be", "Party", "We're Ready", and "I Need Your Love".
Boston began around 1969 when Scholz, an MIT engineering graduate, joined the band Mother's Milk, featuring guitarist Barry Goudreau, as a keyboardist. Although the band did not last, Scholz began to create a series of tape recordings in his home studio in Wayland, Massachusetts. At first he was primarily an engineer and keyboard player, accompanied by Goudreau, singer Brad Delp, and drummer Jim Masdea. The first tapes failed to interest record companies, but a second set of tapes, performed largely by Scholz on guitar, drew the attention of executives at Epic Records, a division of CBS. It was only after the label insisted on seeing the band perform that bassist Fran Sheehan was added; the label's unhappiness with Masdea's performance led to his replacement by Sib Hashian for the recording of Boston's eponymous first album in 1975 and 1976.
Despite the lineup change, the first album consisted largely of note-for-note remakes of Scholz's basement tapes. (The song "Rock And Roll Band" tells an apocryphal story of Boston's long climb to stardom, "Playing in bars/Sleeping in our cars.") Scholz would later state that the contribution of the new band members to recording was minimal.
Distinguished by Delp's soaring vocals and Scholz's and Goudreau's guitar wizardry, Boston was an immediate success, and helped revive the popularity of mainstream rock at a time when punk and disco were beginning to take hold. It ranks as one of the highest selling albums of all time, with more than 17 million copies sold. It currently holds the record for the biggest selling debut by a group.
The band embarked on a worldwide tour to support the album, establishing Boston within a short time as one of rock's top acts. However, tensions began to develop, at first between the band's label, which wanted a big follow-up album to capitalize on Boston and Scholz, a perfectionist who did not want to be rushed in his many duties.
The result was Don't Look Back, released in 1978, two years after the debut album; at the time this was considered a fairly long gap between albums, but Scholz considered Don't Look Back to be a rush job, expressing unhapiness with the album's second side in particular. It sold about half as well as the first album, and Scholz blamed Epic for the shortfall.
Another tour followed, and the album's title track was a hit, but Scholz's relationship with both Epic and the other bandmembers began to deteriorate. While Scholz began the slow process of working on Boston's third album, guitarist Goudreau began work on his first solo album, also for Epic. Delp and Hashian appeared on the album, as did vocalist Fran Cosmo. They all appeared on the back cover of the album, identified by their first names only. When Scholz saw a CBS album by Boston's other guitarist, with "Sib," "Brad," and "Fran" in the band, he suspected his label, and Goudreau, of forming a "Boston in exile." Regardless of whether this was true, Scholz demanded that the label stop promoting the album, which had gained significant radio play; Epic acquiesced. Scholz made it clear he would not be working again with any of the bandmembers besides Delp.
A series of acrimonious lawsuits followed, and further slowed progress toward the next album, which was now being recorded in much the same way the original tapes were, in Scholz's home studio, with help from Delp and Masdea. (The by now former members of Boston would later claim that they also played on the tracks recorded during this ebony porn time.) A tape of a song they had been working on, "Amanda," leaked out of the studio in 1980 and was widely bootlegged, but drew strong praise from the band's fans.
"Amanda" became the lead single six years later when Third Stage was finally released in 1986, after MCA Records bought out Boston's contract. Loosely built around the theme of life's "third stage" (the onset of middle age), the album was a big hit, and was widely discussed in the non-music press. Boston's subsequent tour, on which the new album was played, in sequence, in its entirety, sold out across the United States.
Another eight years passed before Walk On (1994), the first album without Delp, and ironically featuring vocalist Fran Cosmo, who had performed on Barry Goudreau's solo album, in his place. Unlike the previous albums, it sold poorly, and did not produce any hit singles. The same timespan passed before Corporate America (2002), which featured Delp, Cosmo, and other singers. The band also released a greatest hits album in 1997, which contained a handful of new songs.
Scholz is often described as a "genius", both musically and technically. Scholz built his home studio recorder from scratch, tracked the guitar, bass, and keyboard instruments, and was the brains behind the band since its beginning. During the early 1980s he formed the audio-electronics firm Scholz Research & Development, Inc., which marketed the highly-successful "Rockman" guitar amplifier. These pursuits garnered him at least as much wealth as his work with Boston. Scholz was also, less flatteringly, known as a perfectionist: according to one rumor, he is said to have re-recorded a set of drum tracks more than one hundred times. His autocratic nature and unwillingness to complete albums in a timely manner led to a series of conflicts which culminated in lawsuits filed by fellow-bandmembers and the label, Epic Records.
Boston's music is still in heavy rotation, mainly on "classic rock" radio stations. As of 2002, the band continues to produce new music, though Scholz and Delp are the only original members.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, executives at radio conglomerate Clear Channel Communications sent out of a list of 150 songs apparently recommended not to be played. Boston's "Smokin'" was on the listblog comments powered by Disqus