By Randall G. Mielke
Sun-Times Media

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.

By Jay Cocks
Time

On the second pass Tom Scholz's crew still flies high

Enough of this overnight sensation business. Or course, no one had heard of Boston before their first album came out two years ago. Not even heavy corporate types around the record company who got interested when this virtually unadvertised debut by an unknown group sold its first million albums. Interest grew keener when Boston doubled those sales, then doubled them again.

Nearly 6.5 million copies have now been sold. The success of Boston was so left field--as abrupt, decisive and cleaving as one of Leader Tom Scholz's guitar breaks--that the group came to be treated as if it had been freshly cloned for stardom. When Boston went back into the studio to make their second album, much hope was raised, but many doubts lingered. The new album, out a little more than a month, could settle the score. Don't Look Back shot to the upper regions of the charts; the album's title track, released as a. single, is staking out heady territory in the Top Ten.

Boston does not make the kind of music that moves writers to darken the page with excerpted lyrics that snake through the columns like trenches. Scholz himself admits, "I never thought I was too good with lyrics," and the results of his struggles are at best serviceable (And it gets harder every day for me, To hide behind this dream you see, A man I'll never be"). It's the music that is, well it not wholly memorable, at least for the moment unique.

A typical tune will start with a strong melodic hook--sometimes tough, sometimes close to lilting-- then build in volume and intensity, the instruments laying under and layering on one another until the song shatters around your ears like a sheet of glass falling off a fast-moving truck. This is heavy-metal music with easy-listening inflections, rock fierce enough for the FM stations, flighty enough to fit right into Top 40 AM radio.

Tom Scholz turns a hobby into platinum

By: Michael A. Lerner
Newsweek

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 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 Doug Fox
Daily Herald

Well, it looks like you're about halfway through the big summer tour -- so how's everything going so far?

GARY PIHL: It's been going very well. We're just thrilled to death that people seem to like our new album because we're playing a couple cuts from "Life, Love and Hope," and people seem to like 'em. Then when we get to the classic hits, the people are singing along and smiling, so there's nothing more that we could ask for.

FOX: How are the new songs translating to the stage?

PIHL: They seem to be very well received. Of course, people don't know them, so they're not singing along with them yet, but we hope that they will in the future.

By Alan Sculley
Tahoe Daily Tribune

Boston's Tom Scholz, the man who has written nearly all of the group's songs and created the band's signature sound, has often said he regretted allowing Columbia Records to release the second Boston album, "Don't Look Back," when it did.

He felt he was rushed into releasing the album before it was truly done. He has made a firm decision since then.

"Basically, I decided after the second album that I just wasn't going to get pushed into releasing something before I thought it was the best that I could do," he said in a recent phone interview.

Scholz has made good on that promise ever since, and, as a result, there have been a grand total of four Boston album released since "Don't Look Back" arrived in 1978. The latest Boston album, "Life, Love & Hope," has now arrived – a scant 11 years since the previous Boston release, "Corporate America."

By Jim Harrington
San Jose Mercury News

Gary Pihl became an official member of Boston in 1985. Yet his time with the multiplatinum classic-rock band -- which performs Saturday at Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View -- stretches much further.

"I've been on every Boston tour," the Bay Area-raised guitarist says during a recent phone interview. "But on the first two tours, I was in the opening act."

Pihl was a member of Sammy Hagar's band, which opened a batch of shows on Boston's first tour in 1977. Things jelled between the two acts, so Boston invited Hagar and crew to open all the dates on its second headlining trek.

That turned out to be a pivotal moment for Pihl (pronounced "Peel"), although the guitarist wouldn't fully realize it until years later. Fast-forward to 1985 -- and Hagar's announcement that he's joining Van Halen -- and Pihl suddenly needed to find a new job. It didn't take him long.

By Gary Graff
Special to the Plain Dealer

As he set out to make Boston's latest album, the desire for change was, well, more than a feeling for group majordomo Tom Scholz. Consequently, "Corporate America," the veteran rock outfit's sixth album since 1976, sounds like nothing else in the Boston catalog, from its array of musical styles to the presence of a female singer on many of the tracks.

"I definitely made a premeditated decision that I was not going to constrain myself to what people thought a Boston record was supposed to sound like, which I have done pretty much for the last 15 years," says Scholz, 56, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate who recorded the first Boston album in his basement studio while he was still working as a product engineer at Polaroid.

"Boston fans are and have been very supportive. I have always felt a sort of obligation to give them what they want - which is fine, because I love Boston music. But it's been 25 years-plus since I started doing this on a professional level. I think that people will be able to accept some change."

There's no question that the Boston sound, introduced on 1976's 16-times platinum self-titled debut, is one of the most instantly recognizable in rock. Mixing big, Led Zeppelin-influenced power chords with Beatles-steeped melodies, rich harmonies and Teflon smooth production, Scholz crafted a sonic signature that became a template for myriad bands that followed - Foreigner, Journey, Bon Jovi - and still has a discernible impact these days.

By Wes Woods
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Guitarist Gary Pihl spent the late 1970s playing with Sammy Hagar before he joined the classic rock band Boston, and has appreciated both experiences.

"What you see is what you get. He's a fun-loving guy. He's always in a great mood. And a great singer," Pihl said of working with Hagar. "I enjoyed my eight years there in the band."

As for Boston founder Tom Scholz, "Tom always shows up on lists of the 100 great guitar players of all time," Pihl notes. "He's always on the greatest list of keyboards. Then throw in the greatest rock songs of all time. Boston is on them.

"He's the smartest guy I know. It's been a real pleasure working with him."

Boston, known for megahits including "Amanda" and "More Than a Feeling," is set to perform Sunday at the Pechanga Casino in Temecula and Tuesday at the Forum with Cheap Trick.

Boston has seen a lot of changes over the years, but Pihl said rock music is "absolutely thriving," with its mixing up of musical styles going as far back as Red Hot Chili Peppers, who debuted in 1983.

By Doug Elfman
Las Vegas Review-Journal

A woman went to a meet-and-greet for the band Boston recently and she told the group, "This is show No. 114 for me." Boston guitarist Gary Pihl thought, "Wow, that's more shows than my wife's been to."

Pihl said 114 Boston concerts is "more shows than some of the guys in the band have been to, because some of the guys are new.'"

That's just the way it is with Boston fanatics. Many will come to Vegas just to see Boston/Cheap Trick rock Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel. (Their hits: "More Than a Feeling," "Rock and Roll Band," "Smokin'," "Amanda," "Peace of Mind," "Foreplay/Long Time" and "Don't Look Back.")

Boston has hung with some fans so often, the musicians know them by name.