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ROCKMAN INVADES NAMM 1982

 

Being inducted into the NAMM TECnology Hall of Fame is a huge thrill for me as an engineer/musician. This brings back many memories of the struggle to invent, design, and build the first fully-functional ROCKMAN prototype which led up to the incredible experience of debuting it at the ’82 summer NAMM show in Atlanta.

In 1982 there was no way to practice high-power rock guitar quietly. Even though I had already designed the Power Soak attenuator, it was still too loud to plug your Les Paul into a Marshall stack in the middle of the night, unless you lived alone and a long way from your nearest neighbor. Besides, it just wasn’t the same listening to your power chords at living room volume. What I needed was a way to get that maxed-out overdrive sound in headphones – and not that turned-down amp-in-your-bedroom sound, but huge, total immersion stereo sound that you get on stage with everything on 10. (There was no 11 yet!) And it had to be portable enough to travel without a truck!

After some lame attempts at plugging headphones into an amp output through an attenuator, and even wiring up some simple filters, I realized this problem was going to take a lot more engineering effort. Having spent the last ten years learning how to create guitar sounds with analog electronic equipment, and seven years before that having a wealth of engineering know-how crammed into my head at MIT and Polaroid, I knew that this was a challenge I could tackle. However, making it fit into a Les Paul guitar case (this is where the “peanut butter sandwich” size requirement came from) and doing it for a price that wouldn’t necessitate hocking your guitar were not so obviously attainable goals.

First step was to draw up a block diagram with all the analog pieces needed to get state-of-the-art sustain and distortion, surrounding stereo doubled image, and stereo echo plus reverb. The unique way these processing circuits were combined led to the patents for what I would call the ROCKMAN, a portable device that would convince your ears you were performing in an arena. Moving from this diagram and a few sketches to an actual working model took a small crowd of talented people in addition to myself, a lot of money I didn’t expect to see again, and a little over a year of hard work, stress, inspiration, and abject failure. It seemed impossible that we would make our deadline for the NAMM show, but after all-nighters by a dedicated team and badly-frazzled nerves, at the last minute the first prototype was ready. It still had a lot of unresolved circuit issues so I would have to be very careful about what I played and how I played it.
Summer NAMM 1982

The tiny little jewel of a black box sat alone on a pedestal, diminutive, in the middle of an empty 20-foot booth with a backdrop formed by the word ROCKMAN in giant concrete letters. OK, they were painted styrofoam, but they looked real. This was summer NAMM. Back then that was the BIG NAMM show, and we were surrounded by all the glamour, glitz, and the overwhelming products of the giant corporations’ displays. Here we were playing amongst the big dogs with nothing but me, a guitar, and a tiny box no one had ever seen. What was I thinking? Had I lost my mind? – I had of course, but it had happened long ago. Next to the box sat just two pairs of headphones, one for me with my Les Paul, and one for whoever wanted to hear what the box did. That’s right, it was just one at a time. I would play for a couple of minutes and one person could listen – I wasn’t really expecting a crowd. I was wrong.

The first curious by-stander put the headphones on and I played a few power chords. His eyes got really big. He looked around, like, where are the amp stacks hiding? Then tore the headphones off. He was greeted with total silence, except for the milling early morning attendees and the little plinkity-plink sounds of a Les Paul with no amplifier. After a couple of times with the headphones off, then back on, he finally came to believe that the sounds he heard really were all in his head, compliments of the ROCKMAN, and not in the room. This guy immediately grabbed a few people he knew to drag them over to hear the box, other people noticed the commotion and wanted a turn with the headphones. My coffee was still sitting on the pedestal untouched by midmorning, and the line to hear the ROCKMAN stretched all the way down the length of the walkway past all the other booths and out of sight. My demo performance was shortened to only about a minute, but there was no keeping up with the line of interested parties. I think every buyer at NAMM who heard it ordered it, and a lot of buyers just ordered without listening to it because they didn’t want to be left out. Now I faced a new problem, hundreds of orders for a device that was not even close to production!

After seemingly endless design changes and production holdups, the first production ROCKMEN were successfully delivered. I got amazing contacts from performers I admired that I never thought I would meet. Among them, Joe Walsh (a true master of rock guitar sound) who called to tell me the ROCKMAN was “way cool,” Todd Rundgren who sent a pic of his new pedal board which consisted of four ROCKMEN that he could switch between, Billy Gibbons who generously described its sound as “tone with a capital T” (and who knows guitar tone better than Billy?), Phil Collen, Joe Satriani, Elliot Easton, and many others. But my most prized compliment from ROCKMAN owners came from Jeff Beck, in the form of two warranty cards bearing his name.

The ROCKMAN headphone amp eventually inspired a whole line of grown-up fully adjustable stage amplifiers which BOSTON has used exclusively since the mid ‘80s and made it possible to finally faithfully reproduce all of the recorded BOSTON hits live on stage. Although this was my baby from the beginning, none of it would have seen the light of day without contributions from several talented people including:

Neil Miller (MIT) who was chief circuit design engineer (his initial are on the original circuit board),
Ken Keisel (MIT and Polaroid) who built up the first stereo “dubler” to my specs, which was used on all BOSTON albums and in every ROCKMAN,
Bill Clack (Princeton) who solved an impossible problem with ROCKMAN’s preamp compressor that had everyone else baffled,
Cindy Scholz, (my wife at that time) who did the ROCKMAN graphic art design, and
Bob Stephansky (Polaroid Designer) who did the detailed mechanical drawings.

Some of these people are no longer with us; all of them were my friends and share the bond of the celebrations and trials bringing the ROCKMAN to life.

Tom Scholz

Former drummer for Boston, Lynnfield resident Sib Hashian dies

BOSTON, MA March 22, 2017— Sib Hashian, a former member of the rock group Boston, has died at the age of 67 after collapsing onstage, the drummer's family said Thursday.

Hashian's wife, Suzanne, said the 67-year-old drummer collapsed Wednesday night while performing during the Legends of Rock Cruise. Medics on board administered CPR and attempted to resuscitate Hashian with a defibrillator, but their efforts were unsuccessful.

"It is with deep and profound sadness I share the news of my husband's, John 'Sib' Hashian, the drummer formerly of the band Boston, sudden death," said Suzanne Hashian, his wife of 38 years.

Hashian played on Boston's first two hit records, including their self-titled debut album in 1976 featuring the hit song "More Than a Feeling," and their second album, "Don't Look Back."

In addition to his work with Boston, Hashian played on bandmate Barry Goudreau’s 1980 self-titled record. He also sang backing vocals on Sammy Hagar’s 1979 “Sittin’ On (The Dock of the Bay)” cover.

Hashian, who called Lynnfield home, owned a record shop and a string of tanning salons in Boston.

Suzanne Hashian said arrangements will be announced at a later date.




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23 New dates added to the Hyper Space Tour!



Jackson, MS
Birmingham, AL
Nashville, TN
Huntsville, AL
Montgomery, AL
San Antonio, TX
Catoosa, OK

Shawnee, OK
Paducah, KY
Louisville, KY
Springfield, IL
Cedar Rapids, IA
Madison, WI
Prior Lake, MN

Topeka, KS
Grand Island, NE
Denver, CO
Phoenix, AZ
Murphys, CA
Santa Barbara, CA
Bakersfield, CA
Las Vegas, NV


Have you ever wondered how the unearthly sounds that you hear on a BOSTON album actually happen?  See for yourself this summer at a live show on BOSTON's Hyper Space Tour! The band is currently planning four dozen shows in North America and is set to launch in Hollywood, Florida on April 14, at the Hard Rock Live.  Always a huge crowd pleaser with their high-energy stage show, other-worldly sound, and exceptional musicianship, BOSTON prides itself on performing a totally live show, delivering an extraordinary experience that is faithful to their studio recordings.

Be sure to check for the latest confirmed BOSTON tour dates on the band’s official website: www.bandboston.com
To receive updated tour information and interact with BOSTON fans, please join their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/BandBOSTON

For the latest dates visit The GonnaHitchaRide.com Tour Calendar
For Fan Presale information visit our Community forums

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BOSTON Welcomes Joan Jett & The Blackhearts Aboard THE 2017 HYPER SPACE TOUR

LOS ANGELES (Mar. 6, 2017) -- Music legends BOSTON continue their Hyper Space Tour this summer with the iconic JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS, for an additional 21 cities, presented by Live Nation. Performances with Joan Jett will begin on Wednesday, June 14 in Mountain View, CA at Shoreline Amphitheatre, and continue eastward across North America. More information can be found at livenation.com. Itinerary for the Live Nation portion of BOSTON’s Hyper Space Tour with Joan Jett now added to the Tour Calendar.

Presale for BOSTON and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts fan club members begins Tuesday, March 7th at 10am local, through Thursday, March 9th at 10pm local time. General on-sale begins Friday, March 10th at LiveNation.com and on the Live Nation app.

Be sure to check for the latest confirmed BOSTON tour dates on the band’s official website: www.bandboston.com
To receive updated tour information and interact with BOSTON fans, please join their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/BandBOSTON

For the latest dates visit The GonnaHitchaRide.com Tour Calendar
For Fan Presale information visit our Community forums

 

 

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BOSTON announces their HYPER SPACE TOUR, launch date: April 14, 2017

Have you ever wondered how the unearthly sounds that you hear on a BOSTON album actually happen?  See for yourself this summer at a live show on BOSTON's Hyper Space Tour!  The band is currently planning four dozen shows in North America and is set to launch in Hollywood, Florida on April 14, at the Hard Rock Live.  Always a huge crowd pleaser with their high-energy stage show, other-worldly sound, and exceptional musicianship, BOSTON prides itself on performing a totally live show, delivering an extraordinary experience that is faithful to their studio recordings.

 
Photo: Jon Viscott - www.bostonontheroad.com

Unlike most bands at the time, all of BOSTON’s albums were conceived in a basement, written, produced and recorded by Tom Scholz, an MIT graduate who designed specialized equipment to capture the songs that he heard in his head.  Scholz created his music with the intention of playing it live, in real time with real musicians, making it one of the few bands in history to reproduce seemingly-impossible-to-perform productions on stage, without the use of prerecorded music or technical enhancements.

The timeless songs appeal to young and old alike, so it’s not surprising to see concert audiences that span generations. Fans can expect to hear the classic songs they have grown to love, and will be treated to wild Hammond organ work, soaring guitars, and exceptional vocal harmonies, as well as BOSTON’s unique visual stage presentation, from mind-blowing lightning bolts and spectacular lights to an interstellar “journey" from the cockpit of the BOSTON spaceship, along with plenty of extra-terrestrial sounds heard nowhere else on earth.

"From the opening licks of 'Rock & Roll Band,' it was a night of heart-pounding rock the way it was meant to be — raw, powerful, and with endless guitar solos delivered in the pure analog splendor that makes BOSTON one of the most enduring live acts on the planet.”
~ Wendy Rhodes, Broward/Palm Beach New Times

"It's not an easy task to reproduce BOSTON's lush studio albums in a live setting, yet the sound was thick and layered with spot on four-part vocal harmonies.”
~ Ken ebony porn Tomczak, 995TheMountain.com

"This band has been firing on all cylinders for 40 years and they still know how to give it up BIGTIME to their faithful fans! They are 'not just another band out of Boston', they are 'THE BAND OUT OF BOSTON!'”
~ Michael Mckenna, Nor’easter Entertainment

It’s been over 40 years since BOSTON’s self-titled debut album first hit the airwaves and turned the world on to a new kind of sonic experience. With over 17 million copies sold, Boston generated hits such as “More Than a Feeling,” "Peace of Mind,” "Foreplay/Long Time,” and "Smokin'," rock staples that are still in heavy rotation today. Their second album, Don't Look Back was another chart-topper that confirmed their place in rock history, followed by Third Stage, which hit #1 on the charts, with the top single of 1986, "Amanda.” Walk On, Corporate America, and Life, Love & Hope complete the band’s discography. With over 31 million albums sold to date, BOSTON has stood the test of time.

Be sure to check for the latest confirmed BOSTON tour dates on  the band’s official website: www.bandboston.com
To receive updated tour information and interact with BOSTON fans, please join their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/BandBOSTON

For the latest dates visit The GonnaHitchaRide.com Tour Calendar
For Fan Presale information visit our Community forums

 

Celebrate National Guitar Day and Catch Up with a Rock Star

Tom Scholz, the 69-year-old guitarist behind the band Boston, is about as different from a rocker stereotype as you can get. The MIT-trained engineer with a passion for music, problem-solving and inventions, would watch his band become a musical force in the ’70s when ‘More Than A Feeling’ became a celebrated rock anthem. Scholz called the six-plus-year process before this, a “calculated expenditure.” Says the musician, engineer, sound technician and inventor, “Actually, I was expecting nothing. What I was hoping for was that, at some point, I might record a song that would get played on local radio stations. And then I could go out on local stages, and I could play in a band and play a piece of music that people knew—That was mine. And that was sort of my goal. It was very modest.”

Today, there is even a Gibson Guitar named after the legendary artist. Scholz and Boston recently celebrated the band’s 40th anniversary with a tour—reminding people that if you give a math geek a guitar, he or she just might become one of the coolest rockers ever. Read more of the story. Listen to the podcast on iTunes.

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