Gary Pihl could be the poster child for why drugs aren't necessarily considered de rigueur in the rock n roll culture.

Pihl's drug-free lifestyle  not to mention his solid guitar licks  set in motion a chain of events that led to the gig of a lifetime. For nearly 30 years, Pihl has been a guitarist with the long-running band Boston.

He earned the spot the old-fashioned way, by working his way up through the ranks as a member of Sammy Hagar's first band, which opened for Boston ebony porn during its 1978-79 tour.

Pihl had been playing in a band called Stark Raving Mad in the San Francisco Bay area, and they were looking for a new singer. Pihl knew that Hagar had recently left the band Montrose, so he reached out to Hagar to see if he'd be interested in joining Stark Raving Mad.

Thanks, but no thanks, Hagar told Pihl. Hagar was going to put together his own band and he asked Pihl if he was into drugs. Pihl told him he was clean, then wondered why he asked the question.

"Sammy said the last (guitarist) he had was (into drugs) and he was looking for someone who wasn't," Pihl recalls. He offered Pihl a spot in his new band, but Pihl wasn t sure whether to take it.

Just then, Hagar's manager called with some news that couldn't have been timed any better. Boston was looking for an opening for the last two weeks of its first-ever tour, and if Hagar could find a guitarist, the gig was his.

A few weeks later, Pihl was on stage with Hagar opening for Boston, which was watching the new band from the wings.

If hooking up with Hagar was one significant career turning point for Pihl, then befriending Boston founder and technical genius Tom Scholz was another.

Prior to his music career, Scholz had earned bachelors and masters degrees in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Scholz went on to earn 29 patents for products he invented while he was a senior product design engineer for Polaroid.

"The last secret to (Boston s) success is that we all use amplifiers that Tom built," Pihl, 61, explains during a phone call ahead of Boston's Saturday night gig at Trump Taj Mahal. "He had his own company called Scholz Research and Development, and he (invented) the Rockman guitar amplifier. To this day, we re the only band in the world that plays its own amplifiers."

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