42 Years Ago: Boston Unveils Their Self-Titled Debut Album

August 24, 2018

On August 25th, 1976, the phenomenon known as Boston dropped their debut album by way of Epic Records.

Started by MIT graduate Tom Scholz, Boston started out very much like any other band of their time: in a homemade basement studio playing local gigs with high hopes of being signed to a big record label.

Scholz, already a classically-trained pianist, did not pick up a guitar until his early twenties when he joined a college band with drummer Jim Masdea and guitarist Barry Goudreau. Soon they recruited the talents of singer Brad Delp to complete their tight four-piece that would last for many years as just another unsigned local band.

The years passed by so much that they were close to hanging it up for good in 1974. By this time, Scholz insisted they stay, by bringing Delp and Masdea back into his basement recording studio to lay down six new songs. Little did they know, these were the recordings that were going to get them signed by Epic Records thanks to the efforts of their managers Paul Ahern and Charlie McKenzie.

Interestingly enough, Epic Records executive Lenny Petze had previously (and aggressively) passed on signing Boston their label before. Although Petze was very vocal in about signing them to Epic Records to the public, Scholz says he keeps a rejection letter framed in his office. 

Although he was ecstatic that Boston got signed to Epic Records, Masdea had already left the band. Scholz had to act quickly to fill in the slots for a live show. Thankfully, he managed to recruit drummer Sib Hashing and bassist Fran Sheehan into the fray.

Now that they've been signed, Epic Records wanted them to send them to Los Angeles to record an album in a professional recording studio with producer John Boylan. For most aspiring rock stars, this would sound like a dream come true. Scholz however shot down the idea. Instead he and Boylan devised a plan that would send Goudreau, Sheehan, Delp and Hashian to Los Angeles while Scholz stayed at home, refining their demos and submitting them to Epic Records to give them the idea that these were the polished versions.

Besides acting as the middleman between Scholz and Epic Records, Boylan made another enormous contribution to the band: their name. When they were first signed, they went under the moniker of Mother's Milk. Instead, he had them change it to "Boston." With a brand new name, and an awesome sci-fi-inspired album cover, Boston's debut album was ready to hit the shelves in 1976.

Boston's sound caught some criticism because it mixed rock and pop so well that it was dubbed as "corporate rock." Despite this, Boston secured their place in rock history with their opening track "More Than A Feeling," selling half a million copies in a matter of weeks and shooting them up to No. 1 on the Top 5 pop charts. Scholz then quit his job at Polaroid, and the rest is history.