[Originally posted on boston.org]
When asked years ago for permission to use the BOSTON trademark for a fan-based website, I was flattered. The idea that some internet users were so enthusiastic about my music that they would form their own Boston website was exciting.
Of course I agreed, and made some small donations, but also made the decision to keep a "hands off" policy towards the site and its content. I really didn't want to interfere with any fan's perception of what BOSTON meant to them. Besides, I had my hands full writing, producing, and performing.
This meant that most of the information on the site came third hand from news articles, which I have found to be generally about 90% inaccurate. Some of these sources may also have been somewhat hostile. We have plenty of detractors because we were too successful, because we avoid association with the sleazy element, because we were open about our strong ethical views, and because our surprise victory in the old CBS lawsuit spoiled any plans certain people may have had to exploit the name BOSTON.
In spite of all the wonderful sentiments that are shared on the site concerning BOSTON's music, the volume of misinformation on the site and the growing misunderstandings expressed in the postings have become more than an annoyance to band members and friends, who have repeatedly complained to me. Although most of you have been incredibly supportive and understanding, some are not.
Most people believe this "official" site is controlled by the band and don't know that it is a purely fan-based site. Virtually everyone who comments to me about the site asks why we allow the detrimental statements, and why we provide information that appears to benefit people who have interfered with our pursuits as BOSTON. It may come as a surprise to many of you, but nobody in the band, including myself, ever approved or reviewed any of the material presented here. In fact, until recently I had never read most of it, as I was constantly juggling the high demands on my time. (My last vacation was in 1997!)
We are very grateful for the excellent work done by our friends and listeners who created the site and maintain it; it is one of the best on the net. But the fear for us in the band is that many new listeners, and now the media, are coming to the site as a result of our new CD, and are finding false "facts" and less-than-flattering comments. There is speculation that the site has even been used as a tool by individuals who would like to see BOSTON fail. The musicians who have created "Corporate America" put heart and soul into this project for 4½ years, and all our futures depend on its success.
We would really like to correct the info about the origins of the music and the people responsible for bringing it to life. My goal is to provide more accurate information about these people, and a factual account of how the music came to exist, "from the horse's mouth." For the older music, most of it was recorded by me with no one else present, except Brad for vocals. All of it (except one song) was recorded and mixed with me physically there in the driver's seat.
The time has come to debunk some of the myths that have been allowed to taint people's perception of Boston. Particularly distressing has been the undeserved elevation to virtual sainthood of long-departed, so-called "original" band members by fans of the first 2 albums. Because of the deliberate effort to hide the precise performers' credits on albums 1 and 2, few people realize that Brad and I alone actually performed most of the tracks by the process of overdubbing.
Once the drum track had been laid down by Jim Masdea or Sib Hashian, I played all the instruments, one at a time, on most of the recordings, including More Than a Feeling, Smokin', Party, A Man I'll Never Be, etc....11 cuts in all, and most of the instruments on 4 of the other 5. Brad similarly sang all the vocals painstakingly, one track at a time. This is exactly how the demo was recorded that got us the deal - so convincingly that for years even Brad thought he had sung to a tape of a band playing!
The 3 musicians picked by Brad and me for our performing group were chosen long after the work of attracting major label interest was done. Later, although I tried to use them on the recordings to make them feel involved, they ended up having only limited roles in the recording of the first 2 albums. They had no involvement in the long, costly process of recording the mythical "6 song demo" (which was actually a 4 song demo, followed months later by a 2 song demo).
The story of these demos, which got three major record labels interested, and finally cinched the deal with CBS/Epic, has been badly mutilated by the "FAQ" section. Here is a short version of what really happened:
THE BOSTON DEMOS
After 6 years of developing my writing, arranging, recording, and performing skills, and after spending ALL of our savings (my wife was a real trouper) from my Polaroid day job, I finally recorded a 4 song demo with Brad and Masdea which attracted genuine interest from 3 big labels. I remember jumping around on top of my desk at Polaroid in a victory dance after a vice president of A&M Records tracked me down and called me there.
This started a long string of events, as a coworker observing my unusual animation (I was normally asleep at this part of the work day), later played the tape for his cousin at ABC Records. There Charlie McKenzie "discovered" it, eventually leading to the Epic contract.
Several months after the first demo sent me to the top of my desk, I finished another 2 song demo which included "More Than a Feeling." This resulted in the contract being offered by Epic. The misleading accounts of a "showcase set" sealing the deal are fictitious. Epic reacted only after hearing "More Than a Feeling," which occurred months after the showcase attempt.
The only performers on these demos were Brad Delp (vocals), Jim Masdea (drums), and myself (all other instruments). I persevered with the painstaking work of overdubbing the keyboards, bass, and guitars one track at a time because earlier attempts at recording using other musicians never captured the emotion I was looking for. I realized that this unorthodox method would be the formula if I were to succeed at creating the music I envisioned.
The point is that none of the other 3 "original members" played any part in these demo recordings which were years in the making. My then good friend, Barry Goudreau, after learning of my success with the 4 song demo, approached me, asking if I could use another guitarist on stage. Trusting our friendship, I agreed to let him, and eventually his two longtime buddies Hashian and Sheehan, take part in the band.
But Brad and I could have chosen anyone to fill out the roster for our public appearances, and their subsequent involvement had little effect on the eventual recording. They were not even named in the CBS contract for the "Boston" album; only Brad and I were signed. But they did stand in the picture, got named in the credits, and collected a royalty share equal to ours.
What about the credits? The 1st and 2nd album credits were intentionally vague, so as not to embarrass the new "members." This adhered to the promotion peoples' marketing image, presenting this as if it were a real recording group in the traditional sense. Maybe they felt the world wouldn't accept the music if they knew most of it was recorded 1 track at a time by 2 people.
Consequently it is not mentioned in the liner notes that I laid down most of the instrument tracks. At the time I didn't mind people thinking that Sheehan played those bass lines, or that Goudreau played guitar on "More Than a Feeling" (the video clip of him playing it on commercials was just a lip-sync). Fast forwarding to 2002, reading the complaints of fans who mourn the loss of the great "original" bass player, etc, threatens to undermine our future. I wonder if Masdea has similar resentment, knowing that the drum arrangements he and I worked out for demos were studied and replicated by Hashian in the studio.
In spite of this, all 3, at my direction, received exactly the same royalty share as Brad and me. Neither of us were particularly concerned with the money; there was plenty. Hopeful that this generous arrangement would eliminate envy within the ranks, I was soon to learn some bitter lessons about human nature.
None of this is to be construed to mean that Goudreau and his pals did nothing in the studio; they all took part to some extent.
WHO PLAYED WHAT
Goudreau played the awesome lead on "Long Time" and rhythm on "Foreplay," but on the 1st album, he appears on only 1 other cut ("Let Me Take You Home Tonight"). His work on album 2 was limited to short cameo parts on 3 songs; on 2 of these, he and I took turns playing leads. I played all the rhythm tracks and most of the leads, although he played a nice lead at the end of "Don't Look Back." I tried to involve him more - he was a very fast guitarist for the 70's, but I was looking for heart and emotion on the tracks which required feeling and perseverance more than technical speed. I ended up relying on the method that worked for me on the demos: playing the parts one at a time myself, which was long and draining.
Following the release of the ill-fated "Barry Goudreau" album, our working relationship ended surprisingly easily with a simple buy-out. Maybe he thought he was then, or soon would be, a star, and no longer needed me.
Sheehan, also from the North Shore area of Boston, was a longtime friend of Goudreau and Hashian, and the only one of the 3 I honestly thought had a good heart. His playing style was vastly different from mine, and his involvement in BOSTON studio recording was minimal. I felt bad that I could not use him much in the studio, but if I had, the recorded songs would not have sounded like the demos that got us the deal. Fran did play bass on "Let Me Take You Home," "Foreplay," and a couple of notes on "Don't Look Back." I think Fran was a nice guy, but he seemed easy prey for the fast-talking music business slime that quickly surrounded him. I think they convinced him that I was too slow at creating BOSTON music the way I always had, and thus was hampering his career by sticking to my artistic standards and techniques.
Fran, along with Hashian, tried to help CBS's attempt to bankrupt me with their lawsuit and gain control of the name BOSTON, spending hours with CBS lawyers looking for inside information that might help their case, and testifying on their behalf. Speculation that they expected to "take over" BOSTON after CBS got the name out of my hands became more believable when I heard a story circulating about how he and the others celebrated with a bottle of Dom Perignon after their court appearance - on CBS's tab! Celebration of my demise at the hands of this Goliath was, of course, premature.
Hashian played the drum tracks for albums 1 and 2 except "Rock 'n Roll Band," (which was Masdea) and a few small bits I punched in myself. What is not widely known is that the drum arrangements from all 6 songs of the "original demos" were simply replayed by Hashian, copied virtually note-for-note from Masdea's demo performances.
For many tracks on album #2, where there were no existing demos for Hashian to study, I had great difficulty getting tracks I considered useable from his attempts. Finally resorting to unusual editing techniques to make them passable, the song "Don't Look Back" had over 60 splices for drum timing corrections. (I'm now pretty good with a razor blade and tape in the studio!)
This was the reason I eventually began to record drum tracks myself, and part of the reason for reinvolving Masdea on "Third Stage." Having finally extricated myself from the people who wanted Masdea out, I also was determined to give him another chance. Not knowing Hashian at all, I had relied on Goudreau's judgment of his character, since they were longtime friends. I was sadly disappointed as I grew to know him.
As for the rest of the tracks, Brad sang all the vocals, one part at a time. Like me, he was a tireless worker in the studio, singing and resinging till we found the magic combination for those harmonies. All the keyboards were played by me, as were the guitar and bass tracks mentioned above.
The most important point about these old associations is that they are really old; they happened about 25 years ago! No one involved then is the same person today; this is ancient history. The second most important point is that after all this time, Brad and I are still working together in the studio and on stage.
WHERE AND HOW
Far more interesting than who played on that first record was how it was actually made. Under John Boylan's direction, all 3 of the North Shore crew joined Brad in LA as a decoy for CBS, while I actually overdubbed the various instrument tracks back in Boston.
Boylan's plan enabled me to record alone in my basement studio, uninterrupted and unsupervised; something CBS would not have allowed. They believed that the album was being produced in LA by Boylan, but only 1 song recorded there was actually used on the album ("Let Me Take You Home").
While the others relaxed in relative luxury in apartments near Hollywood and made regular trips to the full production studios of Capitol Records (which maintained the appearance of a record being made), I was working day and night in my makeshift studio in Watertown, MA, trying to complete the tracks that would actually appear of the album. I don't think CBS president Walter Yetnikof ever realized that his eventual gold mine was actually recorded by me working alone this way, a fact that would later help him lose his famous lawsuit.
At one point, I received a call from Boylan telling me that he had just bought Brad a very expensive Taylor 12-string acoustic guitar on the album studio budget. Ironically, I was that very night laying down the 12-string acoustic guitar parts for "More Than a Feeling," using a $100 Yamaha acoustic borrowed from Brad before he left. Still, I was grateful to Boylan for making it possible for me record my music the only way it could have been done.
For me, the pressure to magically create more music to appease growing appetites was becoming unbearable. I was the goose that laid the golden eggs, and in 1981 they were not coming fast enough, especially for CBS's Yetnikof. Finally, blamed by all for "holding back BOSTON," the decision was apparently made to kill the goose. After all, as long as they got rights to use the name BOSTON, couldn't they sell just about anything?
Yetnikof's lawsuit was described by some as "personal," using the vast resources of CBS to teach me, like several other recording artists, who was boss. Some thought the others were just afraid of Yetnikof, and were trying to save themselves by cooperating with him. Presumably, they would get to pick the spoils after the kill and capitalize on the name BOSTON without me.
The apparent zeal with which they testified to help CBS end my career, knowing that I had found them struggling in North Shore bars and handed them this opportunity, was devastating. However, any hope of a takeover of the name BOSTON ended when CBS was defeated, and Yetnikof was subsequently replaced. Goliath lost in a surprising upset, and all who placed their money on the giant lost. Would it surprise anyone that they are now bitter? Sour grapes are hard to swallow after you've won the lottery, but thrown away your ticket.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Brad and I are still recording music about the same as always, overdubbing our parts, but now we have important, real artistic contribution from new, enthusiastic musicians who are also some of the nicest people I've met. The wealth of fan-supplied info on this site filled a void for us with internet users, but the misleading parts and commentary has been unfair to us, and an additional burden to the band, in an already tough business. Some of it benefits individuals hostile to BOSTON, and we, the band, really have to ask that it be removed or corrected.
The first 2 BOSTON albums are bright spots in the distant past, and it's gratifying to know that they are still appreciated. I'm personally proud of them because they were the result of a dream I once had, along with 10 years of hard work. But now it's time to bury mythological history.
Musically there is no point in trying to mimic the past. What comes next must necessarily be different in order to be art. This is the end of a chapter; it's time to write a new one, "Corporate America."
Tom Scholz, for the band BOSTON