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.