Boston Hits SoCal for 40th Anniversary of Debut Album – Article by Scott Essman

Boston Hits SoCal for 40th Anniversary of Debut Album – Article by Scott Essman

Boston Hits SoCal for 40th Anniversary of Debut Album

Article by Scott Essman

By any measurable account, Boston’s debut album, released in the summer of 1976, was an unconditional phenomenon. Its mixture of melody, power, and virtuoso musicianship was unprecedented. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Who and other powerhouse bands had forged such sonic territory, allowing band founder Tom Scholz to coalesced all previous rock and roll subgenres into a new sound, one which he largely self-produced on equipment of his own design.

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After its explosion onto airwaves, Boston, the debut album, sold 17 million copies to date in the U.S. alone, with another eight million globally. Without question, classic rock radio stations nationwide, now 40 years onward, still regularly play many key tracks, such as “More Than a Feeling,” “Foreplay/Long Time,” “Smokin,’” “Rock and Roll Band,” and others.

Guitarist Gary Pihl, who has been with the band since 1985, spoke about Scholz’ singular abilities in many categories. “Tom, obviously, is a great engineer as well as a terrific musician,” said Pihl. “He’s always on [lists of] 100 greatest guitarists and keyboardists of all time. He’s an engineer, producer, designed the amplifiers that are still used on stage.”

 

gary pihl_photo credit Bob Summers Photography

In 1976, listeners responded to Boston’s overflow of melodic hard rock, including the dynamic instrumentation of the tracks and Brad Delp’s soaring vocals. “I remember where I was when I first heard the Boston sound,” recalled Pihl. “I was driving in my car in Petaluma and put on the radio – this is a song by Boston! How did they do that?”

Through eight “great” years with Sammy Hagar, including two tours supporting Boston in 1977 and 1978-79, Pihl stayed in touch with Scholz. “I was one of those geeky guys — how do you get that sound?” Pihl would ask Scholz. “In 1985 when Sammy got the call to join Van Halen, I left from my last gig with Sammy and flew directly to Boston to start working with Tom on Third Stage. Here I am 30 some years later.”

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When asked about the secret to that first Boston album, Pihl is matter-of-fact about Scholz’ approach. “It’s the songs,” he said. “It’s on e of those things; beauty is in the eye of the beholder—the lyrics, the melody, sing along with them. Why do we enjoy Beethoven’s Fifth?”

tom _ gary_photo credit Bob Summers Photography

Now recreating those songs for a tour that hits the Greek theater on July 14 and the Pacific Amphitheater on July 16, Pihl and Scholz exchange leads and rhythm parts cooperatively. “You do this, I’ll do that,” he said, adding, “I’m playing my parts on the new records. I think we’ve got the greatest band ever.”

BOSTON credit Bob Summers Photography

Though the band is celebrating the 40th anniversary of that landmark first album, Boston continues to function as a working band, constantly developing new material. “If the Stones can still do it, so can we,” Pihl quipped. “We are always working on new material. It’s fun being out here. We’re so grateful. There’s no better feeling—it transcends what we’re doing.”

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