It s been quite a ride for Tom Scholz '69, SM '70, the creative force behind the rock band Boston.
By Elizabeth Durant
Tom Scholz '69, SM '70, never expected his passion for music to be much more than a hobby. After graduating from MIT, he worked as a senior product design engineer at Polaroid by day and spent his nights composing and recording demos in his basement studio and playing in local bands. But in the summer of 1976, he found himself in the limelight with the release of his band's self-titled debut album, "Boston." With hits like "More Than a Feeling" and "Long Time," it quickly became the bestselling debut album in history. Scholz soon quit his job at Polaroid to follow his bliss.
For the past three decades he has been the driving force behind Boston, as a composer, producer, engineer, and musician, playing lead and rhythm guitars, bass, piano, organ, and some percussion. The band has produced six albums with cumulative U.S. sales of 31 million, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The debut album alone has topped 17 million in U.S. sales, garnering the RIAA s diamond award status (for sales over 10 million) and ranking 11th in the top 100 bestselling albums of all time. Of the remaining five albums, three have achieved multiplatinum status (sales of over two million), including "Don t Look Back," (1978) and "Third Stage" (1986).
Scholz didn't become interested in pop music until he heard "powerful sounding" bands like the Kinks and the Who in the mid-1960s, and he didn t pick up the guitar until he was a junior at MIT. "When I heard that music, it reminded me of really powerful Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky& .It was the power of the music and those guitars that made me want to play." So, he began playing guitar with local cover bands with names like Middle Earth and, he admits with some embarrassment, Mother's Milk.
The transition from engineer to rock star was "bizarre," Scholz says. "The music side of it was great, because I had only dreamed that I might get to do that. The life experience side of it was a bit of a cruel joke. Finding out what people are like in the world of entertainment was really a scary experience& .I had a very na