This was the most memorable musical encounter in my 12-year A&R career at Epic Records.
One late afternoon my friend and colleague Lennie Petze brought Paul Ahern to my office and asked if I would listen to a cassette Paul brought him.
We stepped into A&R head Steve Popovich’s office (Steve was out of town and had the best sound system), and played the first song, “More Than A Feeling” . Halfway through the next song I stopped the cassette and jokingly asked Paul and Lennie “Is this Candid Camera”?
I couldn’t believe something this good was being dropped in our lap.
No audition. No club showcase. No rehearsal room performance. We didn’t even have to leave the building.
I called Steve right away and asked if we could promise Paul a deal with the provision that Lennie and I first saw the band perform.
We saw them a few weeks later at Aerosmith’s rehearsal facility — I think it was in Waltham, a Boston suburb.
At that time I didn’t have sufficient producer credentials to be assigned the project, but we had recently hired a more experienced guy named John Boylan to be on the A&R staff.
And the rest, of course, is history.
When I was at WMMS/Cleveland, Steve Popovich would occasionally call to get my opinion on a new rock act he had a hand in signing.
It might have been sometime in the summer of 1975, Pop called to say, “I really like this, man. Lemme send you this. It’s from your old neck of the woods. Tell me if you like it.” It was the Tom Scholz/Brad Delp Boston demo tape.
I listened. It blew me away. Especially “More than A Feeling” – all seven minutes of it.
I called Pop back and said it’s what album rock is looking for – and an edit of “More than A Feeling” would be a CHR crossover summertime hit. He replied that “More Than A Feeling” should be edited – even on the album (“Leave ‘em wanting more”) and he wanted to change the name an lyrics to “San Francisco Day,” since the band was named Boston (It became “Hitch A Ride” on the album). Then he asked me if I heard of Paul Ahern, who was managing them. I told him the “Horse with No Name” story and that he had “the ear.”
Later than year, the Boston album showed up in the mail at WMMS the weekend before it was to be released – with no return address. We threw it on the air immediately.
Popovich called the next day. “What da ya think?” I told him. replied, “I hope you said it was a ‘world premiere exclusive.’ You were the first station in the world to play it.”
I was road managing a popular regional band called Duke & the Drivers in Boston..we were playing the Cape Cod Coliseum and my great friend Charlie McKenzie who was the ABC/Dunhill promo rep at the
time made me listen to a demo called “More than A Feeling” .which of course blew me away..he could not stop raving about this guy Tom Scholz..Charlie partnered with former Asylum National Promo Director Paul Ahern and I specifically remember sitting with a group of friends in the living room of WBCN salesman Kenny Greenblatt’s apt. while the name “Boston” was being thrown around…eventually I went with Charlie to Tom’s basement studio in Watertown, MA to deliver him some equipment Charlie was planning on having me road manage the band..but after some small talk with Tom and my complete lack of knowledge of anything electronic.. he squashed that idea immediately..LOL..The audition for Epic’s Lenny Petze at Aerosmith’s Warehouse space was filled with BCN family and friends…I remember those early days so well Paul was in LA mostly and Charlie’s “office” was a phone in a small lake house that Kenny Greenblatt had in Littleton, MA..The period after the release of “More than a Feeling’ was amazing !!! It took off so fast and especially those first royalty checks that changed so many lives!!! The first gig was opening for the Drivers in Waltham Ma…then Black Sabbath tour and the rest is history…unfortunately there was a falling out with Tom and Paul and Charlie…and sadly we lost Charlie in 2002.What an amazing ride and I will always remember those amazing early days with the original band and Brad’s amazing voice…!!! And the 6x Platinum Record on Charlie’s wall !!!
As a member of the Nils Lofgren Band we opened for Boston a few times. After our set we all waited and checked them out.
They killed, it was better then the record! Brad was like an angel. With a voice like his you would think he would be arrogant, he was not.
After the shows he would hang around and talk and compliment our band on how we sounded. He was a beautiful soul.
We opened for a lot of groups back then, but Boston lived up to their music hands down. Lucky to have saw them.
Great article on Boston. My band Boulevard had The pleasure of opening for them in 1989 across canada and one date in Seattle. What amazing experience that was to tour with your heroes! As you pointed out Brad Delp was probably one of the most amazing human beings you’ll ever meet and of course possibly the Premier rock singer of all time!
Tom was certainly the obvious genius but also not entirely a social creature. He pretty much played hoops backstage all day while the ever humble brad chatted with us between sound checks and Tried to secure a better golden eagle bus for our band seeing as the heat had gone out on ours and it was -40 in Winnipeg! Yikes.
They brought a pipe organ !!
They had not played in years and brad was so excited to just get out and will that he almost blew his voice the first night back. He calmed down after that but still sang like a bird.
Could probably write a whole pile more but the biggest memory was really how amazingly down to earth these guys were. Humble and kind and NOT rock stars. Just happy to be out playing some of the best rock songs ever written!
I was glad to have had that opportunity in my lifetime!
To hear what happened to brad broke my heart. He was the best
Of course I threw the album on having not heard it in a while. My 4yr old walked in to the kitchen as I was making him breakfast, Foreplay / Long Time was on.
He listened intently for about 6 seconds and said “Dad, please add this song to my Spotify playlist.”
Love witnessing that instantaneous connection when the song and the sound makes you know you need more of it.
Love your rants, Bob. Almost as much fun are the memories posted in your “mailbag”.So if you don’t mind….
In ’76 I was 20, running a popular surf shop in Ocean City, MD For some reason EVERYBODY wanted to look like a surfer and had to have a Sunshine House t-shirt, so we were mobbed all summer. We were also known for always having great music playing on good equipment (Marantz, Bose, etc.) Every night at closing/clean-up time, we’d crank up the tunes for one last hurrah. One night I have the new Boston album playing (loud!), and a friend walks in smiling and grooving and says “who’s this?” and I launch into my own rant about how the Rolling Stones are no longer the greatest rock and roll band on the planet….. Well, I guess that was only true for one album, but what an album! 44 years later, it still resonates, and when you hear it, you automatically reach for the volume.. If that’s not the mark of a HOF recording….
Thanks for all your writing,
All the best,
Tom Scholz cares about people like few realize, you just have to be on the right side of the line and then he’s a mensch proper – now of course, that may exempt a few band mates (but that’s a thing musicians hold to themselves) and a lot of industry folk (not Harvey) (Hey Harvey!)
Outside the industry, Tom is as big hearted and keen to help and assist expecting nothing in return, I’ve been there as he donated to save endangered wildlife, never seeking attention for it, and keeping in touch with the front line, there
Brad Delp, as friendly and folksy as Robert Plant, sad story, yet no one looked after the tour crew family more than Brad and if you had it in you, he was always game to go see sunrise with his beloved camera gear. Had an eye for architecture, too.
Smart guys, as Boston Mass tends to spit out
Thank you for reminding me about Boston!
I love it!
Those first 3 albums were majestic. I only got into Boston on Third Stage and then went back to discover the beauty. There was nothing fake about the songs. Long live Boston!!!!
Bob, my wife & some friends caught Brad’s Beatlejuice band in a lounge outside of Boston. His ability to do both John & Paul was jawdropping & at the break, he made the rounds & said hello to every table. Just seemed like a genuine nice guy (with enormous talent). It was such a shock to hear about his passing. Truly missed & a timeless LP. Best, Jeff/Maine
Not sure if you ever watched, or cared about, the show “Scrubs”, but they had an amazing episode where they auditioned members of a lip sync/air guitar band, and the end of the episode features Donald Faison and the staff of the hospital lip syncing to “More Than a Feeling”. It’s one of my favorite moments of TV in the last 20 years.
It was early September 1976 when I first heard “More Than A Feeling” on WAAF in Worcester and owned it 12 hour later. A morning trip to Strawberries downtown (skipped school) because I just had to have it. I honestly wore the album out over the next year.
Just last week I pulled out Tom’s remaster to vet a rehabbed Marantz 2270 and Bose 901’s. I nearly cried it was so damn good. Tom and Brad created something just this side of magic in that Watertown basement. So original and visionary. Not a bad moment on the entire record.
PS – Check out Rich Beato’s take on “More Than A Feeling.” youtu.be/ynFNt4tgBJ0
You nailed it. More Than A Feeling, a song I’d press the station buttons in the car hoping catch it, which wasn’t hard for a long while, it was ubiquitous. Couldn’t buy the LP fast enough. The soundtrack of junior year of high school ski club in Buffalo, 45 minute bus ride from school to Kissing Bridge, might hear a Boston tune 2-3 times. They were the first concert I ever saw, The Aud in Buffalo, Cheap Trick opened, and was nearly booed from the stage. No one had heard them yet, and too much excitement for Boston. Don’t Look Back was a really good record but seemed like outtakes from the debut. But the debut, whew!
It’s A Long Way There was a terrific tune by LRB, their debut record was excellent.
Rundgren admitted to trying to cop Boston on this song. Truth be told I like it better than anything Boston ever did. I never bought into their sound. Too slick for me. Different strokes.
I want to pick up on something a writer mentioned. After Boston, Brad formed a Beatles cover band called Beatlemania that played mostly in the Eastern New England area. But their home club was Johnny D’s in Somerville, MA. I hate cover bands, but my wife dragged me to see them.
No Beatle costumes – just a bunch of regular guys up there warming up.
When Brad started to sing, John Lennon’s voice came out of his mouth. It was uncanny. After a few songs, I said to my wife: Brad is perfect as Lennon, but what is he gonna do when they do songs featuring the others. A couple of songs later, it was like George Harrison was on stage. It was a perfect imitation. I was awestruck. As you can guess he went on to do a perfect McCartney voice in the next set and even sprinkled in a few Ringo songs.
Unbelievable performance, that speaks to the pure talent of Brad Delp. We all thought he would keep performing at Johnny D’s for years to come. RIP, Brad.
When the album first broke I was driving south on Hwy 101 in Marin County and held to pull over
Years later I find out my college roommate, an MIT grad in EE and also a musician was hired by Tom to help design the Rockman, the little Walkman like device that you used to plug your guitar in to practice to with headphones. They had a sound option built in that allowed you to sound like the thousand guitar sound Tom created on the records. They would only learn later that kids across the country were buying them, then rewiring them to play through their amplifiers live on stage
Because everyone wanted that sound.
they ended up developing a whole line of amps with that sound option built in to it to capture that market Tom knew a thing or two
A Boston cover by an incredible cover band from Australia
Hindley Street Country Club is a band from Australia that has been releasing a great cover song every Friday since Coronavirus started.
This is the best version of a Boston song I’ve ever heard.
They are exploding all over the world. People are surfing the internet and found this band.
They are the world’s best cover band and am looking forward to seeing them to the US when this crazy Corona is done.
—The Brazilians have a word (saudade) that expresses a simultaneous happy/sad which so captures much of that country’s great music. This quality is apparent in MORE THAN A FEELING…who cannot relate to its sentiment of the joy of music alongside “and dream of a girl I used to know….She slipped away”
Harold Love is entitled to his opinion, though clearly he has not heard the lyrics. Methinks he is confusing polished production with lack of soul.
Every reason punk rock happened was Boston!
A little late on the reply – But, the irony of Boston be labeled “corporate rock” when the project was about as Indie/DIY as it could possibly be! One guy, with a day gig, cobbling together tracks in his basemen home studio Essentially, just him with Brad on the singing. That’s indie. Then there’s the whole story of Epic insisting it needed to be re-recored (classic major label wisdom) and John Boylan running interference with the label to keep Scholz working primarily in his own basement (vs. a “real” studio).
Also, I remember reading that Cobain said was going for a “More Than A Feeling” type riff gone wrong approach on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – kinda sounds like it.
Boston debut might be one of the greatest “indie” albums of all time – Also, it was totally a game changer sonically.
Cheers : )
Joshua Tree C
The first Boston album is truly a masterpiece and still sounds as fresh and exciting as it did when it was released some 44 years ago.
Tom Scholz knocked it out of the park!
Great songs, flawless performances, completely innovative guitar sounds and Brad Delp’s incredible lead and background vocals.
I had the distinct honor of playing drums for Boston on their single “God Rest Ye Metal Gentlemen”.
I also played drums for Boston on a live radio broadcast concert when they were promoting the fifth Boston studio album “Corporate America”.
It was truly amazing getting to perform songs off that debut album like “Peace Of Mind” “More Than A Feeling” & “Smokin’’ with the great Tom Scholz and Brad Delp. I get chills thinking about it.
Thank you for writing about Boston and this amazing album.