Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, Tom Scholz spent a good portion of his childhood playing sports and tinkering on just about anything motorized. He had a penchant for mini-bikes, go-carts and model airplanes, and always had a “work in progress.” He was constantly on a mission to invent something that worked a little better than what he already had, or simply, build something out of nothing. “I was a fixer, a builder, an inventor, ever since I can remember,” Scholz said. This trait would prove to be a common thread throughout the course of his life that continues to this day. The son of an architectural designer and a landscape architect (who was valedictorian of her high school class), it was no surprise that he had such a clever and analytical mind. A top student and Varsity basketball player, he was always working out or hitting the books. “I was a complete tool back then,” remembers Scholz with a laugh. Upon graduating high school, Tom packed the ’55 T-bird that he had restored, headed east, and never looked back. Arriving in Cambridge at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tom put his nose to the grindstone and immersed himself in the intense curriculum, graduating 5 years later with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Free from the grueling pace of college, Tom took a job with Polaroid as a senior product design engineer. “It was great,” he recalls, “I couldn’t believe all of this free time I suddenly had. My work day actually ended at 5:00 PM!” Although he was working on some ground-breaking multi-media projects at the time, his real passion started when he got home from work at night. Bitten by the Rock and Roll bug from hearing the likes of The Animals, The Kinks and The Yardbirds on the radio, Tom had begun teaching himself guitar, bass and organ. Classically trained on piano as a child, Tom always had a connection with the music from the masters that filled his home when he was young, Beethoven, Rachmonov, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Ravel among them. You can hear their influences in Scholz’s soulful compositions. It’s music that one can feel, as opposed to just hearing. Over the course of 30 years, his music has inspired many, from getting through a tough time in life, to having the incentive to pick up a guitar, or even naming their children. It’s anyone’s guess as to how many more Amanda’s and Hollyann’s there are today due to BOSTON’s third release, Third Stage.
In the basement of his apartment in Watertown, MA, he had constructed a studio (spending everything he made over the course of 6 years), and was recording a demo tape that would go down in the history books. Working with Jim Masdea, a drummer that he met when he answered an ad in the paper for a keyboardist in Barry Goudreau’s band, Tom, created the tunes that would eventually land a contract with Epic. Ironically, Tom never picked up a guitar until he was 21, but when he did, he was self-taught, was a very quick study, and mastered his craft by listening to his idols, Jeff Beck, Joe Walsh, Jimmy Page and Ray Davies. Todd Rundgren was the first musician that Tom heard that utilized lead guitars in harmony, and was the spark that compelled Scholz to create his trademark harmony guitar solos.
He wrote his first piece of music, “Foreplay,”in 1969, then in the early 70’s, began attempting to play his songs live and in studios with guitarist Barry Goudreau and drummer Jim Masdea, both of whom became close friends. “Foreplay” was also Tom’s first try at demo recording made in Masdea’s old dirt floor basement. Later, attempts included Barry on guitar and Brad singing leads, made in costly commercial studios which quickly drained Scholz’s budget. Failure to capture the music he imagined on tape or a live audience, he abandoned both of these avenues. Having learned the basics of tape recording technology at Polaroid, he sequestered himself in his apartment home basement and began building a crude studio. At first, working with just a home-made 4-track recorder and mixer, he gradually taught himself audio engineering and music production. Risking his savings from Polaroid, (courageously agreed to by his wife Cindy), he upgraded to a spartan 12-track studio capable of commercial production quality.
From 1973 to 1976, he recorded demos of songs written by himself and Brad Delp. He worked exclusively with Jim Masdea to arrange and record the drum tracks, then Tom would overdub every instrument, experimenting and agonizing over each note, one track at a time, until the symphony he envisioned sprang to life. Brad then followed, similarly overdubbing every lead and harmony vocal, one track at a time. Tom continued to finance this hobby by working at Polaroid, where he also admits, “I wrote some of my best music working there.” After years of solid rejections and money running out, this formula finally paid off with a CBS recording contract offer for Tom and Brad in 1976. Scholz continued to work at Polaroid after the completion of the BOSTON debut album. Many drafting and engineering areas there allowed music from portable radios which secretly irritated Tom…they interfered with his mental song arrangement while doing his design work. He left Polaroid when the radios began playing, “More Than a Feeling.”
Gary Pihl remarks, “I’d like to say how he’s been an inspiration for me on many levels. Nobody I know puts more thought and effort into everything they tackle like Tom. Whether it’s music, art, engineering, humanitarian causes or personal relationships, I’ve always counted on Tom to know the right thing to do. He might say that he makes mistakes just like everybody else but I’ve seen how hard he works to try to get it right. I think working with him has made me a more inquisitive person. ‘Let’s try this, how about that, what if we did this instead, let’s look at this from the other point of view.’ When you open yourself up to every option, the good ones seem to shine through.” And shine, they do. This meticulous songwriter, producer, sound technician and inventor has nearly three dozen patents to his name. Some were from his inventions working, and some were awarded for creating the Rockman line of guitar amplifiers and effects boxes. His innovations came from the need he had to capture the sound in his head, on tape, or on stage. To develop and market the Rockman line, Tom formed Scholz Research and Development (SR and D) in the 1980’s, a business that at one time employed 70 people. He still swears by the analog method of recording, in this digital-everything day and age, saying, “Wherever there’s a microprocessor, there’s trouble.”
BOSTON’s newest drummer, Jeff Neal has this to say, “His long list of accomplishments, sheer talent and record of generosity towards others over the years speaks for itself. From the beginning, it has always been about the music. BOSTON’s success has been built on it’s sound, not its image, and Tom is responsible for this. It is one of the most identifiable and unique sounds out there, and it has stood the test of time when so many other fads and trends have come and gone. Tom is a tone master, he has incredibly discriminating ears. It really is a thing to behold to see him at work. I ‘ d like to think the experience has made me better at focusing and improving my own tone and sound.” He adds, “One of Tom’s most admirable traits is his ability to envision the entire ‘BOSTON’ experience in his head and work tirelessly and relentlessly to see that vision become a reality. In stark contrast, I only need to focus on one single element during a performance, but Tom hears and sees the entire production, right down to the smallest detail. That’s why at the end of the night when Brad says, “there would be no BOSTON without Tom Scholz,” it is totally appropriate and deserving. If it weren’t for Tom, none of this would exist… period.”
Scholz still keeps busy in his studio, although now he looks at the process as purely artistic. He is bombarded with more musical ideas than he can possibly harness, but chips away at them as time allows. Tom has been a vegetarian for over 25 years, and supports many ethical organizations with a foundation that he set up in 1987 to help animal protection, world hunger and the homeless. To date, his charitable foundation has donated several million dollars to those causes. He received the Mahatma Ghandi Award in 1987 and was named Man of the Year by the National Hospice Organization in 1988. A knee injury ended 35 years of competitive basketball, so now Tom enjoys freestyle skating, “extreme croquet,” and piloting his single-engine plane around the U.S in his leisure time. His first marriage ended in the late 80s. Presently Tom lives with his wife Kim in a suburb of Boston.
Raised in the suburbs of Chicago for the first 12 years of his life, Gary Pihl relocated to the San Francisco Bay area and has led a musical life ever since. He explains, “I was in several bands in high school. One of our guitar players told me about a guy who was really good and giving guitar lessons at the local music store. He was in a band named The Warlocks. We went to see them play at a local pizza parlor. A couple months later they changed their name to the Grateful Dead. The guitarist giving us lessons was Jerry Garcia.” At 19, Gary had his recording debut with Day Blindness in 1969. He says, “After my time in Day Blindness, I was in a band called Fox with Roy Garcia and Johnny V (Vernazza), who went on to play in Elvin Bishop’s band. We were really fortunate to get to be on some shows with bands we looked up to including opening at the Fillmore for Free (with Paul Rodgers). We were on shows with Janis Joplin, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Eric Burdon and War and Mose Allison.”
Gary spent four years in a band called Crossfire. He recalls, “Mitchell Froom was our organist. He’s gone on to be a great producer (Paul McCartney, The Pretenders, Los Lobos, Crowded House, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, etc.). We were opening some shows for Norman Greenbaum (Spirit in the Sky) when he was performing as a singer/songwriter on acoustic guitar. We had done our set and left the stage to Norman. He was halfway through his set when we noticed the audience was getting restless and wanted him to rock out. In the middle of one of Norman’s songs, our drummer, Steve Jones, got back on stage and started playing! Norman turned around in shock. Then he looked at the rest of us on the side of the stage and waved us up. We’d seen him about a half dozen times so we sort of knew his songs. Mitchell and his brother David (our pianist) have perfect pitch and were telling me and our bassist what the chords were as we went along. The crowd seemed to dig it and we ended the show with a rocked out version of Spirit in the Sky.”
Pihl’s first big break in came in 1977, when he joined Sammy Hagar’s band, where he toured and recorded for 8 years. Gary met Tom Scholz when Hagar was opening for BOSTON between ’77 and ’79. In 1985, Sammy joined Van Halen, however, Pihl didn’t miss a beat. He explains, “Tom called me up when he was working on the Third Stage album, he had one more song left to be recorded and asked me if I’d come out to work with him on it. I was thrilled! It was a dream come true for me to work with one of the greatest bands of all time! I would have crawled on my hands and knees from California to get to work with BOSTON. As it turned out, I flew directly from Farm Aid (my last gig with Hagar) to Boston, so I wasn’t out of work for a day. I thought, how lucky could a guy get? He told me that there would probably be some touring involved if the album did well, which it did and basically I’m still here.” Tom and Gary traded studio leads on “I Think I Like It,” a high-energy power tune that showcases how well these two virtuosos complement one another. The two of them, who could pass for brothers, are a natural pair on stage. In addition to lead guitar, Gary also plays electric and acoustic 12-string guitar, keyboards, as well as lends backing and harmony vocals.
Gary quickly became indispensable to Tom’s BOSTON efforts. This quintessential multi-tasker has been Scholz’s right-hand man for over 20 years, serving as Vice President of Scholz Research and Development, assisting in building Tom’s Hideaway Studio II, and is a crucial part of the massive technical undertaking of managing the stage equipment on a BOSTON tour, including all of the back line and audio equipment. He also manages tech people, teaches band performers their parts, organizes rehearsals, integrates the “front of house” sound company system and personnel. Scholz wouldn’t tour without Pihl, saying, “I’d be lost without him. Gary’s the only other person on tour that has a thorough understanding of the complex audio productions systems that turn the efforts of 7 musicians and singers into the perfectly mixed stereo sound coming out the the sound system. That includes everyone, the road crew and the sound reinforcement technicians.” As Kimberley Dahme puts it, “In my opinion, he is the glue that holds BOSTON together. He works with us individually for hours on end, and assists Tom solving all of the problems that come up. He cares. I am so thankful to him, he is amazing. I don’t have enough good things to say about Gary.” Pihl is an expert professional photo editor, and did all of the editing for the graphics that were required for Corporate America as well as the remastered Boston and Don’t Look Back CD’s.
“He’s one of those rare people that has a gift for music and highly technical talents,” states Tom. Drummer Jeff Neal adds, ” Gary is the most consistent player out there, night after night, you can count on Gary to bring his ‘A’ game. His style is really an excellent blend of great technical ability but also wonderful feel. It ‘ s a standard that young players today should aspire to reach.” Although the majority of his talent is innate, some was acquired. Gary explains, “My dad always told me to do whatever you want, be the best you can and go to school to learn how. I reminded him that they don’t teach Rock and Roll in college but he said, ‘If you love music, then find out all you can about it.’ He took me to the local college and made me sign up. Of course once I got started, I loved it. No, they didn’t teach Rock and Roll, but it gave me a great foundation and a better understanding of music. In one of my choral classes I was sitting next to another kid out of high school just trying to learn about music. It was Johnny Colla, who went on to play sax with Huey Lewis and the News. You never know who you’ll end up sitting next to in school.”
In addition to his BOSTON ventures, he still finds time to let his creative energy fly. He says, “I’ve enjoyed working with some friends on a “project band” called Alliance. It’s Dave Lauser from Sammy Hagar’s band, Alan Fitzgerald from Night Ranger, and Robert Berry from 3. It’s a mix of all our favorite styles from Blues to Prog rock.” Alliance has released six albums to date. “Robert Berry and I are also in a band called December People. We do traditional holiday songs but in the style of different rock bands. We do Joy to the World as if the Who were playing it, Santa Claus is Coming to Town like ZZ Top might play it. You get the idea. It’s a lot of fun and every show we do is a benefit for a local charity, usually a food bank.” Gary’s latest venture is an album he co-wrote with singer Mick Devine. The band name is The Roads and the album is titled Simple Man. It’s received some very nice reviews and two songs have been turned into videos. A long-time vegetarian like Brad and Tom, Gary resides in a suburb of Boston with his wife and two sons.
Born and raised in Utica, New York, Tommy DeCarlo lived and breathed sports, playing baseball, football and basketball throughout his school years. He tried out with the Pittsburgh Pirates on two occasions, but never made the team. He says, “Quite honestly I wasn’t good enough, but to get that far was an awesome experience.” Tommy’s interest in music began in elementary school when he joined the school choir. He recalls, “Every year I would try out for one of the lead singing solo parts and every year I never got one. They always told me my voice was too soft.” Many years later, he would show the world that was not the case.
Tommy started playing piano when he was about 14 years old. Self-taught, one could usually find him picking out chords on an old upright when he wasn’t playing sports. As far as singing goes, DeCarlo explains, “Well … I truly have to thank Brad Delp for helping me develop that gift. When I first began to listen to BOSTON as a young teenager, I absolutely loved Brad’s voice and how he would sing those classic hits whenever there was a BOSTON song on the radio. It wasn’t like I was trying to sing like Brad, it was just that I loved to sing along with him.”
At 22, a summer vacation in Florida turned into an 18-year stay, until the DeCarlo family relocated to Charlotte, NC in 2005. Along with his wife, and two adult children, Tommy, lives a relatively normal life; A dedicated family man, he says that his family is absolutely the best part of every day. When he’s not on the road with BOSTON, he plays in a cover band with his son, a guitarist, Tommy DeCarlo, Jr.
He posted his BOSTON covers and other music on his myspace page, and even wrote a song in honor of Delp. Hearing of a tribute being planned, a friend encouraged DeCarlo to take action. He remembers, “I sent my myspace page link to the BOSTON camp, and I also offered to sing my song at the tribute show, never thinking I’d get a reply. I did end up getting one about two weeks later thanking me for the offer, but at this point there were not going to be any additions to the line up. It was a very nice reply, and I was just thrilled that I got a response.”
Several weeks later, Tom Scholz happened to hear Tommy’s cover of “Don’t Look Back,” and was shocked. Knowing every nuance of Brad’s voice, he could not believe that this was not Brad singing, exclaiming, “I haven’t heard anyone else sing like that in 35 years.” Scholz contacted Tommy and invited him to come and sing a few songs at the tribute. DeCarlo’s reaction was, “I would have never believed this could happen in a million years. The next thing I knew I was on my way to Boston to sing with BOSTON … are you kidding me?”
Prior to that, the largest crowd that Tommy had sung in front of was several dozen people, performing karaoke in a bowling alley. DeCarlo confesses, “I must admit, most of those 30 or 40 were bowling.” His next gig was in front of over 5,000 people, although that wasn’t the most daunting part of his trip. He says, “The most scary time for me was when I walked into rehearsal and met them all for the first time. As I walked into the building where rehearsal was taking place … I could hear the sound of a kick drum off in the distance … I walked through the doors and could not believe it … there was BOSTON rehearsing ‘Don’t Look Back.’ Wow!”
DeCarlo continues, “Meeting the band members was incredible, they couldn’t have made me feel more like family. The best thing was that they allowed me to bring my son with me to rehearsal, who’s a huge BOSTON fan by the way. My son and I were in awe … but trying not to look in awe, if you know what I mean.” He adds, “It was then my turn to sing and I walked up to the mic and sang ‘Smokin.’ Then I finished and the most incredible thing happened … Tom Scholz walked right over to me and gave me a high-five … I was like, ‘No way that just happened!'”
At the Bank Of America Pavilion for a sound check the next morning, he got his first look at the size of the audience he would be singing for. Tommy laughs, “It was nothing like the bowing alley, I’ll tell you that.” Due to time constraints, DeCarlo never even got a sound check, but it simply didn’t matter, that night he stunned the crowd with his performance of Smokin’ and “Party.”
He recollects, “During the set change when BOSTON was getting ready to perform, I was back stage pacing back and forth … nervous as all get out … but the BOSTON band members past and present were more than supportive. The next thing I knew, a crew member looked at me and said, ‘You’re on,’ and that is when I met all of you for the first time… the best fans in the world! It was all of you who made me feel that everything was going to be okay, and I smiled knowing I was among friends. For the moment we were one and shared in something very special, and it was truly an honor to sing for you. Brad’s voice gave me hope and inspiration at times in my life when I needed it. I have said that I never took any singing lessons, but that’s not exactly true … it was Brad who taught me how to sing, even though he never knew it.”
After an extensive search for a new drummer for BOSTON, Tom Scholz happened to see Jeff Neal performing with his band Punchbug at a ski resort in Maine, and the rest is history. Jeff joined the group in 2002, adding his energetic, entertaining style of drumming to the ’03 and ’04 tours, and excellent harmony vocal chops. Gary Pihl thinks very highly of him, saying, “Jeff is great to have in the band because he is so down to earth and matter of fact. He’s a great drummer and remarkable singer, but acts as if what he does is just like anybody else trying to do his job the best he can. We’re fortunate to have him, and I’m glad that even after a million people have told him how great he is, he hasn’t changed from being that good-natured guy, always ready to work.” Tom concurs, adding, “He fits in because he’s like the rest of us…he’s not a rock star, he’s a regular guy who can really play. He’s involved in music because he loves it, not because he makes a living from it.”
When not on tour with BOSTON, Jeff’s “other” job is teaching U.S. and World History at a local high school in his native Maine, where he lives with his wife and daughter. He also coaches soccer at the collegiate level, and is an avid player himself. However, music is his first passion, and he has played drums in local clubs since his late teens, where an audience of 175 would constitute a “huge night.” How did he make the shift from playing bars to full-blown concerts? In his words, “The way I handle it, is I do as much preparation as possible, mentally and physically, just focusing on the task at hand, without thinking about the enormity of what I’m doing. You can start to kind of wig out on that. One can easily get overwhelmed if you worry about the extraneous things. I try to stay focused on playing my parts to the best of my ability, and that allows me to make the transition. The preparation is key. It is kind of an awe-inspiring thing, now to share the stage with idols of mine. From the beginning, everyone in the band was great, making me feel at ease. It’s a huge plus to have people realize what you might be going through, and say the right things to pick you up. It relieves a lot of pressure, and you can focus on doing what you need to do.” He adds, “The reality is that people are coming to see you whether it’s 25 or 25,000, and it’s important to give a good performance regardless.”
Jeff is a self-taught drummer, an impressive fact, given how far he has made it. “I came from a middle class family, and the logistics of drum lessons were not an option. I had to break into my piggy bank and basically buy a drum set myself from the neighbors down the street who were having a garage sale. All the neighborhood kids were ogling over it. I had to beg my parents, and eventually they succumbed, knowing I wasn’t going to give up on it. Ever since they have been wonderfully supportive, they’ve encouraged it all along when they realized I was serious about it, from garage bands to gigging out, they helped me acquire gear over the years,” he remembers, adding, “I really have to give kudos to my mom on this, she made a lot of personal sacrifices for me. At one point, I really needed a pair of high hats, but it just wasn’t possible at the time. One day I came home from a particularly bad day at school, and there was a brand new pair of Zildjian high hats sitting on the table waiting for me. She had gone into the music store, knowing nothing about drums, but determined to get those for me, even though she was financially strapped herself.”
Nealie, as he is affectionately known to the band, loves the great outdoors, and spends as much time as possible biking, hiking, camping and kayaking. When on tour, Jeff can often be seen knocking a soccer ball around backstage during down time. Additionally, on days off, he loves strapping on a pair of roller blades and checking out the local scenery. “It’s a great way to see the sights, learn the local history and clear the head after a long bus ride”. When he’s not banging away on the drums, he dabbles in alto sax, an instrument that he started playing at the age of 10. “I don’t consider myself proficient, but that’s where I learned basic music theory.” Most recently, Jeff designed and built a small project studio in his home where he can make noise long into the evening without bothering the neighbors. “The drums are definitely my passion. I just want to keep getting better.”
Hailing from Elkhart, Indiana, the “Band instrument capitol of the world,” it was almost inevitable that Tracy Ferrie’s life would be intrinsically woven with music. Like Tom Scholz, Ferrie’s introduction to music came from listening to his dad’s stacks of classical albums, which laid the ground for Tracy’s forthcoming musical journey. The son of roller-rink owners, he donned skates for the first time before he was two, and went on to become a national champion skating to the classical masterpieces that he grew up with. “Symphonic music was the soundtrack to my life,” remembers Tracy.
Tracy’s love of music compelled him to learn an instrument. When selecting something to play in the fourth grade, Tracy chose the tuba, because, he says, “it was the most outrageous instrument in the band room.” He played in the school orchestra for several years, until encouragement from the school’s music director prompted him to pick up guitar, upright, and electric bass. Ferrie became obsessed with playing, as well as with filling his basement with musical gear. “I remember scouring the paper for anything that someone or anyone was trying to get rid of, trying to build a wall of speakers,” he recalls. He spent all of his spare time in his subterranean haven, honing his craft.
After graduating high school, Tracy attended the Berklee School of Music for several years, during which he started playing with local bands in clubs, as well as doing a fair share of session work. Moving west to further his studies in LA, He attended The Music Institute of Technology. Making the rounds in the Hollywood circuit playing in various bar bands, Ferrie landed his first pro gig, touring with the Young American Showcase. That was just the beginning of a musical career that has taken him to over 25 countries to date, playing with artists such as Whitecross, Guardian, and Stryper. Reflecting on his travels over the years, Ferrie says, “I get a kick out of how small a world it is. To be asked for an autograph in a foreign country by a fan that is holding a product that you worked on is both humbling and inspiring.”
Gary Pihl and Tom first played with Tracy when they performed together at a fundraiser in ’08. Gary states, “I was impressed with Tracy’s bass playing when we performed with him at the benefit for Station Night Club victims, but I was especially glad that he had “grace under pressure” when the drummer had an equipment failure and missed the intro of the song! All’s well that ends well, we kept playing and the drummer caught up to us. The audience got to hear a new version of that song and we learned what a pro Tracy is.” Tom says, “It’s most excellent to hear the bass lines that I recorded played note for note. He has a great touch, and a contagious energy on stage.”
Tracy also teaches bass, something he finds very rewarding. “I know the positive and life-changing influence of a mentor, and I feel very grateful to be able to share what I’ve learned.” He lives on Cape Cod with his wife and their four children.
A Long Island, NY native, Beth Cohen grew up in a house filled with music. Although she played both piano and flute by the time she was 10, she soon discovered that singing was what really inspired her, and began writing her own songs as a young teen. Attending the University of Miami on full scholarship, she earned her degree in music and honed her craft as a vocalist as her influences broadened.
Performing at various venues, Beth sang rock, R & B and Latin material, and began incorporating Spanish into her music. Her talents caught the attention of Jon Secada, and soon after, she toured as one of his background vocalists. In addition to being a successful writer, she has traveled the world doing what she loves, and has worked with artists such as Julio Iglesias, Barbra Streisand, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Pink, and most recently, Barry Gibb, where she was also featured as a solo vocalist on his tour.
Tom Scholz happened to see Cohen perform at a club in Miami in the late ‘90s, while he was working on some studio recordings, and was so impressed with her incredible voice that he asked her to try some vocals on some songs that he was developing. He recalls, “Lots of people have a great voice, what was amazing about her is her ability to use it.” Beth sang on demo tracks for “You Gave Up on Love,” and her background vocals appear on that song on 2012’s Life, Love & Hope, an earlier version was released on 2002’s Corporate America. Scholz says, “She’s the best studio singer that I’ve ever worked with.” An accomplished jazz pianist, Beth will lend her keyboard skills, some rhythm guitar, and of course her exceptional vocals as she joins BOSTON’s lineup this year as they bring their live show across North America. Gary Pihl says, “I’d seen some YouTube videos of Beth singing all kinds of stuff, but when I heard her sing lead on our song, “Surrender,” I knew right away that she was gonna be great on stage with us.”
When not touring, Beth is a top vocal coach in Miami, working both with well-known artists, as well as young, hungry emerging performers. She says, “It’s a wonderful way to help singers live the dream I get to live every day.” Beth also sits on the on the Board of Trustees for the Recording Academy, the organization that oversees the Grammys.
For more information, go to: beth-cohen.com
Born in the Big Sky country of Montana, but raised in Arkansas, Curly Smith had rhythm spoon-fed into his being from living next to railroad tracks. The thundering trains mesmerized the young boy, who started beating on pots and pans to accompany the sound of the railroad cars lumbering by. Whenever he had the opportunity, Curly would cross the tracks and soak in the sounds of the gospel music emitted from the church nearby. This laid the foundation for his quest for a musical career.
Curly started playing guitar, drums and singing by the time he was 12 years old and picked up the harmonica at 14. Prior to his 20th birthday, he began classical piano lessons and composing music. Working in various bands in Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, he honed his skills before joining Jo Jo Gunne in California, an offshoot of the classic rock group Spirit. Jo Jo Gunne had a top 40’s hit entitled “Run Run Run” and toured extensively in the USA and Europe.” but is probably best known for his work with the rock band “Boston”, where he played drums, harmonica, piano, sang vocal’s, and composed songs, but during his extensive career, Curly was also playing live, and doing session work with a variety of other artists in Los Angeles, Miami and London, including Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Monkees, John Waite, including the number one hit “Missing You”, Steven Tyler and Jimmy Crespo, (Aerosmith) Joe Walsh (Eagles), Branford Marsalis, Steve Lukather,(Toto). Elliot Easton,(The Cars), Eric Johnson, Gary Wright, Steve Augeri (Journey), Jack Sonni (Dire Straits), Andy Taylor (Duran Duran), Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), Rick Springfield, Willie Nelson, Bill Champlin (Chicago), Ron Wood (Rolling Stones), Dickie Betts (Almond Brothers), Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, John Sebastion, (Loving Spoonful’s) Spencer Davis,(The Spencer Davis Group), Reggie Knighton, Brian Ray (Paul McCartney), Ian Hunter, (Mott The Hoople), Jay Ferguson, Mark Andes, Randy California (Spirit), Brian Auger, Gary Myrick and the Figures, Russ Ballard (Argent), Steve Cropper (Booker T and the MG’s), Bonnie Bramlett (Delaney and Bonnie), Jeff (Skunk) Baxter, John McFee, Keith Knudsen (The Doobie Bros.) Brian Wilson (Beach Boys), Ray Manzeric and Robbie Kreagor (The Doors), Spirit, The Bangles, David Lindley, Danny Hutton (Three Dog Night), Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Bob Welch and Billy Burnette (Fleetwood Mac), Belinda Carlisle, including the number one hits, “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” “I Get Weak”, and “Circle In The Sand” Don Johnson, including the number one hit ”Heartbeat”, Bette Midler and a host of others. He is one of a few drummers who has the distinction of having played for and side by side with The Who’s Keith Moon. Curly has written and worked on a many movies and TV shows as well, including The X Files.
As a solo artist, he has recorded two successful solo records and is now working on a third. A highly acclaimed rock and blues CD titled “Rough House” and a symphonic, eclectic tribal jazz CD “Cool Blue Cosmic Gem” in which he wrote all the songs, produced, engineered, sang all the vocal’s and played all the instruments.
12 June 1951 – 9 March 2007
To anyone that’s ever had the pleasure of listening to Brad belt out a tune, it’s clearly evident that he was born to sing. From an average suburban kid with a penchant for music, to the voice of one of the most successful rock bands of all time, Bradley E. Delp always remained true to who he was. The music business has its share of notorious icons living life on the edge, but Brad lived his life in a different manner… he was often referred to as “the nicest guy in rock and roll.” Just about anyone that ever encountered him would agree that the moniker fit this atypical rock star. The world was graced by this gentle and kind soul for 55 years, but on Friday, March 9, 2007, Brad took his own life, spurning a global shockwave of sadness for all that knew him, as well as those that didn’t, but who’s lives were touched by the sound of his magnificent voice.
Growing up in Danvers, Massachusetts on Boston’s north shore, Brad was bitten by the music bug at the tender age of 13, after seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. That fateful experience would lead to a long love affair with the British band that would always be a part of his life. He immediately ran out to buy his first guitar, and went to work at learning to play. Shortly thereafter, he joined his first band, The Iguanas, a short-lived endeavor that soon morphed into The Monks, a band that Brad played in throughout his high school years.
Upon graduating, Brad honed his unique singing style by performing in various clubs regularly in the early ’70’s, a welcome respite from his day job, where he worked in a factory making heating coils. Barry Goudreau, another north shore musician, brought Brad to the attention of Tom Scholz who was recording demo tapes in his basement studio at the time. It would prove to be one of those serendipitous chance encounters that inevitably changes the course of history. Tom recalls, “I met Brad, soft spoken and unassuming, when he auditioned in a recording studio outside of Boston one night to sing several songs I had written. He didn’t warm up; he just listened to the prerecorded instrument track once. Then he started to sing. I don’t know if it took two seconds or three, but before he finished singing the first line I knew that some guardian angel had just delivered to me one of the best vocalists ever to step up to a microphone!” He continues, “Then he kept going and I realized he wasn’t just one of the best, he was amazing! High notes I hadn’t heard before followed by harmonies, and overdubbed exact duplicate layered tracks, all with ease, all with emotion, and yet all technically precise. Before we left that night he had rewritten the lyrics and the melody, sung all the vocal parts, and with the magic of his voice turned my stark guitar riff into a song! From that moment on, I only hoped I could write and record music worthy of his attention and interpretation.”
“Brad and I banged our heads against the wall trying to get a break with record companies for five years. During that time he and I did a lot of basement recording; we received absolutely zero recognition locally and complete rejection submitting our demos to national record labels,” Tom remembers, adding, “I think this experience put our future success in perspective as we both realized that after so many years of insult, we were just very lucky to be able to record and play music above ground!” Their dedication finally paid off, when the two were offered a recording contract with Epic Records. Released in 1976, the self-titled Boston album was the best-selling debut record of its time, and has sold over 17 million copies to date, the 9th best selling record, ever.
Not only did he possess one of the most recognizable voices in the history of rock music, but Brad Delp also played guitar, keyboards, and harp (harmonica). In addition to being blessed with those golden vocal chords, he was also a talented songwriter, and wrote or co-wrote with Tom several songs on the first two BOSTON albums, as well as on their fourth effort, Walk On. Singing lead and all the harmony tracks (4-6 depending on the song) on the first 3 BOSTON albums, Brad’s voice became an international treasure, heard around the world on a daily basis. He also joined in BOSTON’s studio efforts for the Greatest Hits and Corporate America releases.
Creating the ethereal vocal masterpieces seemed second nature to Brad. Tom recollects, “There were soulful notes that pulled you into the song, stratospheric screams and angelic high notes, and after hitting these record breaking notes he’d go back and sing a harmony part above it! He didn’t rehearse any of these parts, he could jump back and forth between harmony parts, double tracking parts, and then go back and do it again exactly the same with one tiny change, adjusting all the other singing parts to fit with bionic accuracy.” The 35 year relationship between the duo grew into one that oftentimes needed no words for communication. Brad once noted, “Tom and I know each other so well. When we go in the studio there is a little bit of ESP.” For anyone that’s ever listened to Brad in rehearsals, watching him tweak the harmony parts with his band mates was a special treat, he was a true master at his craft. BOSTON guitarist Gary Pihl says, “Over the thirty years that I knew Brad, he seemed happiest when he was making music. His enthusiasm for working on our songs never waned.”
Brad shared his incredible gift with millions, touring with BOSTON seven times over the course of his career. He was well known for his innate ability to make everyone that he encountered feel special, as if there were no one else in the room. His fans rave about what a personable and unpretentious man he was, as do his band mates. Tom states, “You’d think anyone with this super human talent would be an insufferable egomaniac. But Brad was just the opposite, and amazingly he remained honestly humble in spite of the incredible star pressure that followed BOSTON’s success.” Drummer Jeff Neal says, “There’s not much more that can be said about him that hasn’t already been said a million times. One of the most distinguishable voices in all of popular music, and also one of the nicest, most down to earth guys you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. I have never seen anyone who seemed so effortless at what he did, whether it was singing those classic lines from the first album or working a room at a meet-and-greet.” Gary Pihl adds, “I’ve been in other bands where we avoided talking to fans. Brad went out of his way to make sure he met everybody, signed all the autographs they wanted and took pictures with any fan who has a camera! He’d be the last guy to get on the bus at the end of the night because he’d be talking and signing autographs for fans who had waited at the back gate.”
Jeff says, “If there were such a thing as a rock & roll university, Brad would have been my first choice for teaching ‘How to be a Rock Icon 101.’ He was self-effacing, kind-hearted and always willing to share the attention. He also had one of the quickest wits around.” Kimberley Dahme, BOSTON’s bassist agrees, saying, “I’ll never forget the first singing lesson I got from Brad. I’d just joined the band, and Brad told me to sing my harmony parts like this, ‘Be a girl, sounding like a boy, trying to sound like a girl.’” Like his angelic voice that was always there, so was his great sense of humor. Tom says, “Although I rarely remember seeing him in the throws of a good belly laugh, he could keep the people around him in stitches effortlessly, and did so on a daily basis.” Former BOSTON bass player David Sikes recalls some of the fun he had with Brad on the road, “Fielding Mellish was Brad’s registered hotel name on tour. Mine was Stiffle Hawks. I was also Moe Howard for a while. Brad and I especially had a lot of fun with these names, we were like two sneaky kids getting away with something. Brad was a huge movie fan … he could tell you who directed and starred in tons of movies, Woody characters were some of his favorites.”
After a hiatus from BOSTON in the early ’90’s, Brad returned to Scholz’s studio to lay some tracks for Corporate America. Over the years, he lent his songwriting and vocal talents to several projects including the solo album by Barry Goudreau, Orion the Hunter, and RTZ. Most recently, in 2003 Brad and Barry released their collective effort, Delp and Goudreau. When not touring with BOSTON, Brad was involved with a Beatles tribute band called Beatlejuice. Tom claims, “They sounded more like the Beatles than the Beatles did!” Delp cited the Fab Four as his greatest influence, and had been a huge fan since he first heard them over the airwaves.
Regardless of which band he was performing with, Brad always gave his all to the fans that unquestionably adored him. He once said, “I never get tired of playing because every show is different. Wherever you do the show, there’s a certain amount of pride because you don’t want people to go away disappointed.” Anyone observing the audience’s reaction at any given show would see that they never tired of seeing him perform, either. A few years back, Brad was explaining what it felt like to perform the Beatles songs that he loved so much, stating, “I tell people that it is the only thing that I can do that makes me feel 15 again; it really does. The BOSTON thing is the only thing I can do that makes me feel 25 again. At 52, 25 is not that bad an age to be.” To all the fans that Brad left behind, his legendary voice will always be timeless.
A vegetarian for 38 years, Brad was a compassionate soul who dedicated time and money for various charitable causes that were dear to his heart. Until the time of his death, he lived in New Hampshire’s Merrimac Valley with his fiancée Pamela, who shared his life with him for 7 years. He is survived by his daughter Jenna, his son John-Michael, numerous family members and close friends, and millions of people who will miss him dearly.