Seven years into his rock and roll fantasy as lead singer of multiplatinum-selling supergroup Boston, Tommy DeCarlo still finds performing the band's biggest hits before thousands of fans a bit surreal.
"I'm incredibly comfortable right until I have to walk out on stage," said DeCarlo, who performs with Boston at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 6 at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne. "I think that part of it is always going to be there."
A former credit manager at a Charlotte, N.C. Home Depot who had never been in a band before, DeCarlo was plucked from obscurity to become Boston's frontman in 2008. At the urging of a friend, DeCarlo sent Boston's management some recordings of him singing Boston tunes to a karaoke soundtrack on his MySpace page as a tribute to lead singer Brad Delp, who committed suicide in 2007. Boston founder Tom Scholz heard the recordings and flew DeCarlo and his family to Boston for an audition. DeCarlo made his first-ever stage appearance before 4,000 fans at a Delp tribute concert, and the band made him its lead singer soon afterward.
"I would have never believed this could happen in a million years," said DeCarlo, a Utica, N.Y. native, married father of two, and Boston fan since his teens.
The designer for Boston's eponymous 1976 record is baffled that it became iconic--but for rockers of the era, the art ingeniously complemented the music.
By Steven Hellermar
Boston's hit song "More Than a Feeling" has long been a frequent presence on movie soundtracks and at wedding receptions. Just as instantly recognizable, though, is the cover of the eponymous first album on which the song appears. Designed by Paula Scher and illustrated by Roger Huyssen for Epic Records, the cover has a loyal following equalling the iconic art for The Beatles' Revolver (designed by Klaus Voorman) and Cream's Disraeli Gears (Martin Sharp). Album covers often carry emotive and symbolic weight--but what is it about guitar-shaped space ships fleeing an exploding planet earth on Boston that makes the image so special?
Scher, who once designed covers and worked as an art director for major artists such as The Rolling Stones and Maynard Ferguson, admits she's "mystified" by the continued interest in this album package. "The Boston cover was designed in 1976 and is now 39 years old," she says. "It was, and still is, in my opinion, a mediocre piece of work."
Yet the album has endured: The guitar-ship has been repeated on subsequent records and as backdrops on concert stages.
Album images don't always turn out as planned--their popularity is often a matter of timing. Take the cover for Boston: Tom Scholz, the band's guitarist and songwriter, wanted a guitar on the cover, which in Scher's artistic lexicon was a cliché. She and Epic Records product manager Jim Charney compromised with a guitar-shaped space ship. "The first space ship cover idea we showed Scholz had a Boston invasion of the planet, but Scholz said that space ships should be saving the planet, not attacking. So we came up with the Earth-blowing-up idea," she said.
By: Sharon Stancavage
Lighting & Sound America
The summer shed season brings out a wide variety of acts, which this year includes Boston's Heaven on Earth Tour. "Over the years, Boston's designs have included a lot of the latest technology that was available at the time," notes Mark Fetto, chief operating officer of Morpheus Lights, the tour's lighting vendor.
This year, Boston is mixing its old hits with new material, a balance that is reflected in the lighting rig. "The rig is half old-school--that's why I kept the PAR cans--and half new, with the hip moving light stuff," explains the band's longtime lighting designer, Gregg Maltby.
The lighting rig is streamlined. "We are carrying three straight 40' trusses," Maltby says. Two are filled with 120 ETC Source Four PARs. He calls the automated light truss, a 6'-tall-by-40'-wide structure upstage of the amps, "the jungle gym." "It's for backlight, air stuff, graphic effects, and lighting the back of the amps," he adds, "On them, there are six [Martin Professional MAC] Vipers, eight [Clay Paky] Sharpys, and six [Ayrton] MagicPanel 602 beam projectors." Additional MagicPanels are placed on the floor. "I'm also using them as shin kickers, stage right and stage left, and they work really well," Maltby says. The units replace the Ayrton Wildsun 500s that Maltby employed on the band's 2012 tour. Using the MagicPanels, he says, "you can go totally crazy--you can write letters and numbers and so on. They do rainbow stuff, they do chases, and they look pretty cool."
By L. Kent Wolgamott
Lincoln Journal Star
In 2007, Tommy DeCarlo was working at a Home Depot in Charlotte, North Carolina. Seven years later, he's the lead singer of Boston in the middle of his third tour with the ‘70s classic rock band.
A devoted fan who came to Boston's attention after he recorded a tribute to the late vocalist Brad Delp, DeCarlo doesn't dwell on the thought that he's living the dream of singing with his favorite band -- until the lights come up for a show, and he realizes what he's doing.
"It's something I don't think much about until I'm up on stage," DeCarlo said. "Early on it was definitely overwhelming. At times, when I'm getting up on stage with the band and see a sold-out crowd, it hits me again."
DeCarlo likely will see a sold-out crowd Friday when Boston and the Doobie Brothers stop at Pinewood Bowl. The audience will see a guy dedicated to doing his best to sing the songs that he grew up loving.
By Randall G. Mielke
Gary Pihl, guitarist for Boston, learned to play from a talented musician, only he didn't know it at the time.
"While I was at San Mateo High School in San Mateo, Calif., someone said that a guy was giving guitar lessons in the next town," said Pihl, who grew up in Park Ridge, and moved to the west coast when he was 12.
"I was 15 years old at the time. This guy was patient with us. He was in a band called The Warlocks, which eventually became the Grateful Dead. The guitarist giving us lessons was Jerry Garcia."
Pihl continued to perfect his craft while idolizing performers like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, and he joined Sammy Hagar's band in 1977. Pihl toured and recorded with Hagar for eight years.