Tom Scholz turns a hobby into platinum
By: Michael A. Lerner
Most rock stars have a weakness for ostentation. When their albums hit the Top 10, and the millions start pouring in, they do things like buy Rolls Royces and Caribbean islands. Not Boston's Tom Scholz. When Scholz found out that his band's last album had gone platinum the very day it was released, he and his manager, Jeff Dorenfeld, tore off to their favorite soda joint in northeastern Massachusetts and bought chocolate malts. "It was really great news," said Dorenfeld about "Third Stage." "Tom thought we'd go out and celebrate." An MIT graduate with a degree in engineering, Scholz, 39, heads his own multi-million-dollar high-tech company: Scholz Research & Development. Despite three phenomenally successful albums, he and his family still live in the small suburban house outside Boston he bought while he worked at Polaroid; he drives a beat up Datsun pocked with rust holes. Although he wrote most of the songs, played most of the instruments and recorded and produced his albums all in his tiny basement, he doesn't consider himself musician first and foremost. "Above all, I'm an engineer." He says. "Music started out as a hobby, and I really try to keep it that way."
It has been eight years since Boston's last album. Despite a near-total absence of publicity, no video clip and not even a cover photo of the band on the album jacket, "Third Stage" has been the top album in the nation for the last four weeks, selling more than 4 million copies so far. It is the first album ever to go gold in compact disc. A single, "Amanda," has also topped the charts. As a result of all the airplay, the band's previous two albums are having strong resurgence. "Boston isn't a success. It's a phenomenon." says Liz Heller of MCA, Boston's label.
By Steve Morse
The days turned to weeks ... the weeks to months ... the months to years and years.
The former MIT engineering student, who admits he's been a "slow-speed thinker" since his college days in the late '60s, ultimately took six years to produce Boston's new "Third Stage" album. He estimates he worked 10,000 hours, punched the recording button nearly a million times and used 100 reels of tape --10 times more than a typical album requires. He even jokes in the album's liner notes that "175 light bulbs burned out in the studio before I did."
"Right now, I have six years of personal life to catch up on. The rust holes in my car are going through the interior; the gutters are falling off my house; and the back rim is falling off my backboard ... . Everything just got spaced during all this," says Scholz, 39.
MCA Album Here; CBS Suit Unresolved
By Fred Goodman
Despite an eight-year gap between releases and a still undecided breach-of-contract suit by CBS Records, time -and tastes - have apparently stood still for megaplatinum group Boston. The long - dormant band is being greeted warmly by both radio and retail.
"Amanda," the lead single from its debut album for MCA, "Third Stage," is the most-added single at radio this week, garnering reports from 144 of Billboard's 225 radio panelists and debuting at No. 51 on this week's Hot 100 Singles chart.
With the album slated for a Sept. 26 release, Boston is also being received with open arms at retail. "You'd think they were coming off a No. 1 album based on the calls we've been getting from stores," says Norman Hunter, album buyer for the 127 -store Record Bar chain, based in Durham, N.C. A spokesman for MCA characterized initial sales as "far exceeding our expectations."
The feeling of optimism is shared by the band's management.
"Radio has received the single like we never left," says Jeff Dorenfeld, manager for the group. "We feel like we're coming off our first album."
Charging malicious prosecution, local industry attorney Don Engel seeks $106 million in cumulative damages in Federal District Court here from CBS Inc. and a New York lawyer and his firm, claiming they wrongfully accused him in the legal hassle involving the group Boston.
CBS originally filed suit against Thomas Scholz and Boston in October, 1983, demanding $20 million in damages for the act's failure to deliver a third album (Billboard, Nov. 12, 1983). Scholz denied the allegations through Engel, his attorney, counterclaiming breach of contract and cumulative damages of $15 million.
Engel's complaint, filled last Monday (4), alleges that CBS and Moses & Singer and an attorney with that firm, Stanley Rothenberg, misrepresented to the New York Federal District Court Engel's actions in the suit in an attempt to disrupt Engel's work on behalf of Scholz. CBS would not comment on the charges.
CBS filed a second action in August, 1984, charging breach of contract and copyright infringement against Scholz, Engel, Boston's manager Jeff Donenfeld and MCA Records, the latter for allegedly trying to make a deal for Boston.
The presiding New York judge lashed out against the plaintiffs in the second action in February, saying he was outraged by what he felt was an attempt to "immobilize" Engel from representing Scholz. Final action in the second suit favored Engel.
By Steve Morse
Life has been good to Barry Goudreau, the rhythm guitarist for the platinum-selling band, Boston. His modern, split-level home rests high on a hill overlooking the ocean, while outside his huge living room picture windows are the more immediate pleasures of a sun deck and swimming pool. Downstairs he has a well-stocked, temperature-controlled wine cellar, and when he leaves home he steps into one of his three automobiles -a Mercedes, Porsche or 1965 Corvette.
The son of a Lynn auto body worker, Goudreau, 28, still resides on the NorthShore, in the next town to Lynn, Swampscott. He's come a long way from his high school days 10 years ago when he played in live bands in Boston's seedy Combat Zone -seven sets a night, seven nights a week. "Those were the days when they didn't have strippers, but go-go dancers in cages," he says. "It was a real learning experience. Talk about paying your dues."
Relaxing at home last week, a guitar draped across his lap, Goudreau was eager to discuss his new solo album, self-titled "Barry Goudreau," which is the first solo LP from any member of the group Boston. The album comes at a time when Boston has been off the road for close to a year and shown no signs of recording another disk, prompting a rash of rumors that something is wrong and that Goudreau may be taking steps to break away.