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.

"Sammy's manager knew Boston's manager," Pihl said, "and they asked us if we would open the next Boston tour. That was the ‘Don't Look Back' tour in '78 – '79. So I got to know the guys."

In 1985, Hagar joined Van Halen, and Pihl joined Boston. He has been with them ever since. Only founder and original member Tom Scholz has been with the group longer.

Boston will perform on Sunday, Aug. 10, at the RiverEdge Park in Aurora.

Boston hit the music scene with its self-titled debut album in 1976, selling more than 17 million copies. The album generated such hits as "More Than a Feeling," "Peace of Mind" and "Foreplay/Long Time." Their second album, "Don't Look Back," had another hit with the album's title song, and they followed that up with their third album, "Third Stage," which included the hit single "Amanda." Boston has sold more than 31 million albums to date. The band has released six studio albums. In December 2013, Boston released its newest studio album, "Life, Love & Hope."

"We will do all the hits; the songs that the people want to hear," said Pihl about the band's RiverEdge Park appearance. "And we have a new album, so we'll introduce people to some new songs, so that the next time we play for them they'll sing along with the new songs."

Pihl, who started playing guitar when he was 10, is pleased to still be in the music business.

"As a musician, you never know how long your career will last," said the 63-year-old performer. "Sometimes 15 minutes is a good run."

And he believes Boston's long run is because of the music.

"It's the lyrics of the songs; the vibe of it all," he said. "It makes people feel good. You see people in the audience smiling and singing along. It's that magical way that music works."

All tickets are General Admission. The area in front of the stage, on the sides and in front (north) of the sound tower will be standing room only. No chairs will be allowed in that area, and no benches will be set up. Bag and folding chairs will be allowed behind (south) of the sound tower and on the grass hill.

Food and drink are available for purchase inside RiverEdge Park. No outside food or drink (except sealed bottled water) is allowed in the park during events.