Originally printed in Guitar World, October 2006
Guitarist Tom Scholz proudly recalls the making of Boston and Don’t Look Back, two of rock’s all-time greatest albums.
When Boston’s self-titled first album was released in the fall of 1976, few industry insiders thought that a guitar-heavy rock record could make much of a dent in the charts, much less become the best-selling debut of all time. “Everybody thought that it was impossible, because disco ruled the airwaves at the time,” recalls Boston leader Tom Scholz. “But we stumbled onto a sound that worked, and soon everybody was imitating it.”
Read more: Boston: Feelin' Satisfied
The parked car was unattended, but to the police who arrived at Brad Delp’s home on March 9, it was immediately clear that something was amiss.
A dryer vent hose connected to the car’s exhaust pipe lay on the ground alongside the vehicle. Inside the garage, a note taped to the house door made the owner’s intentions explicit:
“To whoever finds this I have hopefully committed suicide. Plan B was to asphyxiate myself in my car.”
The police had been called to the Boston lead singer’s home in Atkinson, New Hampshire, by his fiancée, Pamela Sullivan, after she’d discovered Delp’s car with the dryer hose attached. Delp “had been depressed for some time,” Sullivan told the police, “feeling emotional [and] bad about himself.”
Inside the house, on a door at the top of the stairs, the police found a second note directing them to the master bedroom. Cautiously they made their way inside and into the master bedroom. There, like a portent, a third note warned them of the possible presence of deadly carbon monoxide.
Outside the bathroom of the master bedroom, a faint smell of burnt charcoal hovered in the air. The police knocked on the bathroom door. “Mr. Delp?” they called. “Sir, are you inside? Are you okay, sir?”
After a lengthy silence, they turned their shoulders to the door and began battering it with their full force. As it gave, the odor of charcoal intensified and hot plumes of blue-grey smoke poured from the excavated room. Broken tape along the door indicated it had been sealed. The police waited for the smoke to abate, then entered the room, covering their mouths and waving away the haze.
As the smoke cleared, the scene within the bathroom slowly came into view. Two charcoal grills perched among the bathroom fixtures, their metal tops emitting heat waves. On the floor beside them lay the body of a man, his head resting on a pillow. A note paper-clipped to the neck of his shirt told them what they needed to know: "Mr. Brad Delp. Jai une ame salitaire. I am a lonely soul.”
Brad Delp was dead, a suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the New Hampshire medical examiner. He was 55.
Though his fragile emotional state had been known to his fiancée, Delp’s fans were none the wiser. To millions of music fans, he was forever the singer whose buoyant voice carried Boston to the top of the charts in the Seventies and Eighties with hits like “More Than a Feeling, “Peace of Mind,” “Long Time” and “Amanda.” At the time of his death, Delp was preparing for a summer tour with his Boston band mates, guitarists Tom Scholz and Barry Goudreau. He had also planned to marry Sullivan during a break in the tour.
Police found four sealed letters in the home that were addressed to Sullivan; Delp’s children; their mother, Micki Delp; and another unidentified couple. Police lieutenant William Baldwin said the police had given the letters to the family members without reading them.
Whatever insights the letters may have provided, Delp provided sufficient clues to his circumstances in one of the notes found at his house: “I take complete and sole responsibility for my present situation. I have lost my desire to live,” he wrote, adding instructions to the police on how to contact his fiancée. “Unfortunately she is totally unaware of what I have done.”
Brad Delp was cremated on Wednesday, March 14.
Tom Scholz Boston Everyone forgot about Boston until they released the Third Stage album in 1986. Eight years later, the 4th Boston album (Walk On) was released this month. Boston has become a legend for releasing an album only every 8 years. So who knows, maybe the next album won’t be out till the year 2002! Even if it’s sooner, Boston still only has 4 albums out in 18 years. That makes them the slowest band in rock history. But any way you cut it, a true fan can take any part of this album and say, "Yep, that’s Boston." But, Tom Scholz’s guitar work is much more aggressive than on earlier albums, with a veteran guitarist feel. As on the Third Stage album, Tom uses his Rockman technology in the studio to get that perfect tone. This point should appeal to those young listeners hearing Boston for the 1st time.
Read more: Young Guitar Exclusive!
By John Stix Sometime after the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and before the great collapse of last year's World Series, Boston was discovered by Tom Scholz. Here's how it happened. "Rock 'n' Roll Band,' was written because Jim (Masdea), always the hopeless dreamer, was playing in bands in Hyannis, like it says in the song," Tom said. "He was always saying how so and so was going to come to see them. I had heard it so many times before. All these kids playing in bars thought some record guy was going to come in and discover them. You're a rock 'n' roll band and it's something special. That's what you like to think about when you're playing in a bar. I finally thought, I'm going to write a song about everybody who dreams about that. It's what I dreamed about. But that's not what happened with Boston. "Here is the true story. I did a lot of demo work starting in about 1969.1 worked for about a year and bought a twelve track tape deck with my savings. I had to keep working full time through the whole thing to make the money to cover all the expenses. On some of the earlier demos there were other people involved. Barry Goudreau played on some of them. Epic became interested on the basis of six demo songs. Jim helped with the drum arrangements and playing the drums, Brad (Delp) did all the vocals and I did the instruments. That was it. All six of those songs eventually appeared on record. "Those demos were started in 1974 and completed in 1975. The actual demos were not cut on the vinyl. There was a big back and forth thing about whether we should use the demos themselves and do some touch up work and re-mix or should we start over. I had to actually re-record exact copies of them. The demos weren't good enough because the drum sound wasn't good enough. In some places the meter wasn't very good. We had to record between the hours of 12 midnight and 8 a.m. because I was working full time at Polaroid. Brad worked full time. Jim played in bands either up north or down south. So we would record on days where he had to play afternoon sets. He would pack up his drums and drive two hours to the studio, meet me in the middle of the night, unpack his drums, set up; we'd mike him, get our sound, he'd play the part as best he could at 4 a.m., tear everything down, pack the drums back in the car, drive back down to the Cape and try to get a few hours sleep before his next show. He had to set his drums up again that night to play on stage. I had to get back in time to go to work. And this is what we did for one year.
Read more: A Normal Life
Read more: The Rock Man - Maximum Guitar
MUSICAL TRENDS MAY COME AND GO, BUT TOM SCHOLZ, BOSTON'S RECLUSIVE ROCK MAN, COULDN'T CARE LESS. ALONG THE WOODED HIGHWAY THAT LEADS NORTH OUT OF BOSTON STANDS A DINGY RED BRICK BUILDING. HOUSED IN THIS UNASSUMING STRUCTURE IS THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE ROCKMAN SCHOLZ RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT. WHERE BOSTON IS CURRENTLY REHEARSING FOR THEIR FIRST WORLD TOUR SINCE 1988. THE BAND IS TAKING TO THE ROAD IN SUPPORT OF THEIR LATEST OPUS, WALK ON. ONLY THE FOURTH BOSTON ALBUM SINCE 1976. WHEN SCHOLZ AND CO. BURST ONTO THE SCENE WITH ONE OF THE TRULY MEMORABLE CLASSIC ROCKERS. -'MORE THAN A FEELING." A TALL, LANTERN-JAWED MAN, TOM SCHOLZ SEEMS CRAMPED IN HIS COMPANY'S TINY RECEPTION AREA. SURPRISINGLY YOUTHFUL, HE LOOKS MUCH THE SAME AS HE DID IN '76. THOUGH THE NEW ENGLAND AUTUMN IS WELL UNDER WAY. SCHOLZ IS DRESSED IN THIGHLENGTH SWEATSHORTS, A T-SHIRT AND WINDBREAKER. BUT WHAT ELSE WOULD A CONFIRMED BASKETBALL ADDICT WEAR TO WORK. PARTICULARLY WHEN HE OWNS THE PLACE? AFTER A VIGOROUS HANDSHAKE, Scholz's first act is to offer me coffee. Like the late Frank Zappa, he is a nocturnal creature. "It's still morning for me," he laughs, "Even though it's late afternoon for everyone else." He's the quintessential crackpot Yankee inventor, an American original who does things his own way, and the rest of the world be danged. Sometime in the mid-Seventies, Scholz, who scored a Masters in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (M.I.T.) even as he slaved in countless bar bands, discovered his dual calling: analog audio, and what would come to be known as classic rock. He has resolutely stuck with both while the rest of world succumbed to disco, synths, punk, digital, new wave, hair bands, grunge and CD-ROM.
Read more: Peace of Mind - Guitar World
Resonant Frequency #29 by Mark Richardson For 75 years the guitar has craved electricity. Tom Scholz and Brian May believed that the instrument on juice could do anything. "No Synthesizers Used. No Computers Used." said the inside sleeve of Don't Look Back, while the 70s Queen albums I own all have a variation on the stamp "No synthesizers!" These seemingly reactionary claims actually said more about faith in the power of a guitar than they did about synthesis. Scholz and May didn't just want good ol' rock'n'roll guitars-that-sound-like-guitars; they believed in the guitar as an endless tool for shaping sound. They told us these things on the album sleeves to point out that whatever the musical problem, the guitar, if treated and processed appropriately, could solve it. Now our world has changed and we're living in front of screens with our fingers on keyboards. But there's still a place for the guitar. Since before the time of John Fahey's "Requiem For Molly" the guitar has found a ways to embed itself into experimental movements following changes in technology. The guitar in computer music symbolizes both a connection to the past and the possibilities inherent in organic unpredictability. With its strings vibrating in space the guitar gives the all-brain/no-body computer a glimpse at what happens out here in the physical world, where flesh still counts for something.
Modern Guitars Magazine Column by John Foxworthy
Everyone must remember the old coil reverb and vibrato knobs on amps like the Sears Silvertone (classic stuff). Nowadays we process through mini nuclear plants … a long ride from our roots. From the old “Fuzz” box and Cry Baby to the digital harmonizer, effects processing has evolved by leaps and bounds since electric instruments were first introduced. Tom Scholz, best known as the guitarist of Boston, helped to spearhead the advancements present in today’s audio effects.
Scholz graduated from Ottawa Hills High School in Toledo, Ohio in 1965 where he went on to maintain a 4.8 GPA, out of 5.0 at MIT. Being 6’ 5” he was known to be a skilled basketball player rather than a killer guitarist. Tom graduated MIT with a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering and went on to become Senior Product Designer for Polaroid.
Read more: Tom Scholz And The Effects Evolution
By Walter Carter
For Boston’s most recent CD, Corporate America, Tom Scholz and his bandmates created a collection of thoroughly contemporary music, but the recording technology was decidedly un-contemporary. Scholz did not update, modernize or in any way mess with the classic sound from “More Than a Feeling” (1976) or “Don’t Look Back” (1978), and that meant recording the new Boston just like the old Boston – on tape. Magnetic recording tape.
That’s right, the electronics whiz with the Masters degree in engineering from MIT, the inventor of the Rockman over two dozen patented designs, refuses to enter the digital age. It’s not because Scholz wants to be old-fashioned, though. It’s because he can’t work as efficiently (keeping in mind that he typically spends four years making an album) and, most important, he simply can’t get the signature Boston sound using new technology.
Read more: Classic sound of Boston is still Tom Scholz, still recording on tape
By Blair Jackson - Mix Magazine OnlineOctober 10, 2003
Kramer has been a loyal friend of Mix's for a long, long time, always available to talk about music history and recording. In recent years, we've interviewed him for three “Classic Tracks” articles — Hendrix's “All Along the Watchtower,” Led Zeppelin's “Ramble On” and, most recently, Traffic's “Dear Mr. Fantasy” — and discussed his techniques for surround mixing (Mix, March 2003). With his induction this month in the TEC Hall of Fame, however, we thought this might be a good time to offer a more general overview of his glorious career. We caught up with Kramer at his Putnam County, N.Y., home in late July. More than 30 years in America have chiseled away at his South African/English accent — and also turned him into a hardcore Yankees fan. (Please don't hold that against him.)
Read more: Eddie Kramer Never Stops
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