By Kathy Cichon
As a teenager in a California high school band during the 1960s, Gary Pihl took the advice of a fellow student and guitar player. The friend had heard about an older guy who was giving guitar lessons in the next town over.
"He said he was so good, we should all take lessons from this guy," Pihl said.
At age 15, he was too young to drive, so his mother drove him to the lessons.
"He was really good, and he taught us some stuff. And he was in a band called The Warlocks at the time," Pihl said. "In fact, we went to see them play -- they played in a pizza parlor -- they were excellent.
By Matt Wake
Tommy DeCarlo's last job involved wearing an orange apron at a Charlotte Home Depot and assisting customers with everything from their store credit accounts to locating nuts and bolts. DeCarlo's current job involves holding a microphone, singing lead vocals for classic-rock band Boston and belting-out arena-leveling notes on hits like "More Than a Feeling" and "Smokin'."
"It's really nothing I can say I've gotten used to yet," DeCarlo, 50 says, about seven years into the gig.
"I know what my job is and I know what Tom (Scholz, Boston guitarist/songwriter/mastermind) expects of me in terms of being a musician and vocalist in the band and what my parts are. But every night on stage I still find a moment to say, 'Wow, I can't believe I'm here.' I'm super-grateful that I've been given this opportunity to be a part of my favorite rock 'n' roll band."
Tommy DeCarlo’s career path was a straight shot from The Home Depot to the big stage
By Barbara Wallace Hughes
Tommy DeCarlo could be mistaken for Boston's biggest fan - if he weren't the band's lead singer.
How he got the job is a story that sounds almost too unbelievable to be true.
Since he began touring with Boston, DeCarlo - a former credit manager at The Home Depot with no professional singing experience - has been living out his dream.
Sometimes, it still seems surreal.
"Every night is always a reminder of what an awesome opportunity this is," DeCarlo said, in a recent telephone interview.
Growing up in Utica, New York, DeCarlo was an all-around athlete in school; he played basketball, football and baseball, even trying out twice for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Music was nothing but a hobby.
By David Spatz
There's no getting around it: Tommy DeCarlo is the first rock star of the social media generation.
Were it not for his page on the now-passe MySpace, DeCarlo would probably still be a credit manager for a Home Depot in North Carolina, and the 1970s power rock band would likely have a different lead singer.
DeCarlo was 12-year-old kid growing up in Utica, N.Y., when he became a major Boston fan in the 1970s. He bought their albums, memorized the songs and played a mean air guitar. And like many Boston fans, he was heartbroken when the band's lead singer, Brad Delp, committed suicide in 2007.
DeCarlo only real singing "experience" came from the occasional karaoke performance at a local bowling alley. As a memorial tribute to Delp, he posted a few of his karaoke songs on his MySpace page.
"I always liked to sing, it was kind of just a hobby, a bedroom hobby, (but) I never (sang) anything outside of the house," DeCarlo, 50, says during a recent phone call from his North Carolina home. But that was about to change.
By Howard Cohen
Lana Turner was discovered sitting on a stool at the Top Hat Malt Shop in Hollywood. Toni Braxton sang to herself while pumping gas at an Amoco in Maryland. Rosario Dawson sat on a stoop of a Manhattan apartment building when a filmmaker strolling by asked her to be in his movie.
For singer Beth Cohen of Miami Beach, her new role as singer-keyboardist-rhythm guitarist in classic rock band Boston came about because the group's founder Tom Scholz was checking out a local Top 40 act on the Clevelander stage one night in 1997.
Cohen, a University of Miami graduate who has toured with Barry Gibb, Chayanne, Jon Secada and sung backing harmonies on Barbra Streisand's Guilty Pleasures album, was on that South Beach stage.
Scholz rang her up. She sang backup on Boston's 2002 album Corporate America and the current Life, Love and Hope, and Scholz just made her a member of the band for the new tour, which opens Thursday in Tuscaloosa. (Boston performs at Sunfest in West Palm Beach Sunday).
"It's so great. I remember hearing all those songs on the radio growing up. ... I'm thrilled to be there with a musical genius, but it makes me feel good about my own talents," the Long Island-born Cohen, 44, said.
The Broadway cast album of Annie was Cohen's awakening to the arts.
"I was probably about 8 years old and would run around the house singing 'the sun'll come out tomorrow' outside my bedroom window. The boy next door used to tease me, and would say, 'Shut up!' But I didn't even care. I was gonna be Annie! From that point on, I was singing all the time."