Engineering / Music

Tom Scholz

“I have to engineer it… then I get to listen to it.”


Tom built engines as a kid, got his Master’s from MIT, worked at Polaroid and has invented recording gear out of cigar boxes. For real.


Tom’s secret is a little bit “more than a feeling”; you may have heard of his band Boston, which has sold millions upon millions of albums.

“The Start of It”

Tom Scholz starts his journey from mild-mannered Polaroid engineer to guitar-shredding God of Rock.

One In A Million

Tom Scholz's band Boston has the largest-selling debut album EVER... and he finally quits his day job at Polaroid.

Sound Machine

Tom Scholz takes us behind the scenes for a one-of-a-kind tour of his studio and his life.

30 Seconds on Guitar Solos

We give Tom Scholz 30 seconds to tell us about guitar solos... and he plays one!
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About Tom Scholz

Tom Scholz is an MIT-trained engineer and inventor who also happens to be the mastermind, songwriter and lead guitarist of the band Boston. Boston has sold something like a bajillion albums and Tom continues to record, tour and invent equipment for himself and other musicians. His invention, the Rockman, is used by all manner of guitarists, from Rock and Roll Hall of Famers to the budding shredder who lives on your street.

  • SkyFall007

    What a great edition of NOVA’s Secret Life of Scientists!

    Tom Scholz really is an Exceptionally Gifted Engineer and Musician!!

    Considering the new album “Life, Love & Hope” released on 12/3/13, and the start of the 2014 “Heaven on Earth Tour” kicking off June 5th crisscrossing the U.S. (including Toronto, ON) and ending up in Japan Oct. 2-9, 2014 (at least 66 tour dates planned so far to nearly sold out venues) just goes to show that Tom Scholz isn’t resting on his laurels or slowing down with age.

    Taking a great gift & talent and engineering what he feels is the “Best” by his biggest critic (himself) just for the love of doing it–is a great reward for himself and Boston’s Fans around the world!

    Thanks for all the Hard Work in your “Secret Life” and Keep on Rockin’!



    • Joseph

      When I was a kid and first heard the first Boston album, I thought nothing has come along until this that sounds like this record. That is, the electronic effects and recording quality were far out of this world!

      Thank-you, Tom, for continuing to make records and tour.

      See you @ the “Heaven on Earth” show July 26th, Las Vegas,


      • Stephen P Johnson

        I’ll never forget the release of BOSTON’s First Album, the year 1976 and I was entering my Senior year of High School. Because of this Album I put in one of, if not the Best Stereo System one could buy at the time for a car. It was a top of the line 8 track which was built into a custom console I designed for my customized 2dr ’71/’72 Plymouth Satellite which was a dressed down “Road Runner”. It was custom painted an beautiful Blue with extra small to medium metal flake and clear coated, the rear jacked up a bit, wide Mickey Thompson M/T’s on the back and narrow M/T’s on the front mounted on I think 17″ Cragar SS Classic black and chrome rims. The interior was customized as well, new upholstery, and of course it was the ’70’s semi shag carpeting along with the custom console. The engine was a 318 with a bigger intake and carb, more show than go. For nearly 5, yes that’s FIVE years I rarely if ever took out that BOSTON 8 track tape. The sound was piped through, again at the time the top of the line Jensen Coaxial Speakers, front and back powered by a 30 or 50 amp which was HUGE for the time. When the Triaxials came out they replaced the coaxials.. 🙂 When WBCN in Boston played the first Spring Boston tune we all knew it was the beginning of our school vacation. Rarely back then did they play Boston during the Winter, in our area it was played at the first sign of warm weather and ALL Summer long… My favorite memory was when my buddy and I had the song Rock and Roll Band Blarring out of the 8 track driving down the Main st. of Hyannis, MA and just prior to the line “dancing in the streets of Hyannis”, I stopped the car in SUMMER time TRAFFIC, we got out of the car, music blaring and DANCED in the streets of Hyannis around the car, got back in and took off. Boy were there a “few” horns beeping at us and some people walking watching us and some of them Clapping when we were done………! I was never able to see the band in Concert because they rarely played in the New England area when they became Mega stars. Throughout the years, I’ve seen Brad Delp, Barry Goudreau and Sib Hashien play together, then two weeks ago got to see Tom Sholz play in Gilford, NH. The only one I’ve never seen was the crazy head shaking bassist 🙂 It would have been one of the highlights in my life to see the original line up of the band BOSTON play all together but I guess Gilford and RTZ were the closest I’ll ever get now that Brad is gone.

        The above videos were a wonderful peek into the incredible genius mind of Tom Sholz and how incredibly talented he is. I remember all the ’70’s Nay Sayers talking about how BOSTON was not “TRUE” music and it was all done with synthesizers and computer sounds. Well these videos prove otherwise, they prove just how important Tom Sholz playing and inventions contributed and changed the sounds of Rock & Roll music, not to mention for a time BOSTON held the #1 spot for the BEST ALL TIME Debut selling album. They still hold the #2 spot, not too bad for a band the so called “experts” said would not go very far and would soon be forgotten about. Tom Sholz, single handily changed the sound of Rock & Roll music not to mention being on of the top 50 BEST ALL time guitar players and self taught at that…!

  • Sharryl

    You look so happy! Very good series. Congrats, and love you <3

  • B

    Such great videos! Congratulations on all of the past, recent, and upcoming successes of Tom Scholz and BOSTON as a whole!!! <3

  • Brad Henderson

    When I was a kid, I snuck into my brother’s room and rifled his albums. I thought the cover of the Boston album was cool and decided to listen to it. Many, many albums, cassettes, CD’s and now MP3’s later, I’m still listening to it as well as all the other Boston releases. I really enjoyed this series and wish there was more behind the scenes type information available about Tom and the other members of the band.
    I totally understand that Tom would want to be measured as a whole man, not just a musician but I’d like to tell him that his musician personna has affected me in many ways. Through good times and bad, the memories of my life have a Boston soundtrack. I’m happy and proud that my 3 young sons more often than not request Boston while we’re driving somewhere.
    Thanks Nova for putting out this series and thank you, Tom for sharing your gift.

  • Mike

    On the fourth video, ’30 seconds on guitar solos’, where can I get one of those vinyl copies of Boston’s ‘Corporate America’ ????? Man, I’ve been looking for one of those for years!
    Thanks Tom, been a big fan from the very beginning, 38 years ago.
    Thanks also to NOVA for giving us a tiny glimpse into the genius of Tom Scholz.

  • SKIP

    Going to see them in AZ in July. Would like to meet the band. Did see them on my first date with my wife 35 years do I get help with doing something special for my wife???

  • Matthew Rumbel

    What a master! Everytime I hear the Rockman sound it just brings back good memories. Just saw them live in Clearwater, FL. and what a great show it was. Seeing these little glimpses into Tom’s world is priceless. Thanks Nova!

  • Red

    Saw them in Southaven Mississippi last weekend, they killed it. For 40 years I love these guys. Fascinating videos above, thanks for sharing them.

  • BostonFan

    Great videos!
    When I was in college I essentially took up a “Boston life philosophy”:
    Peace of Mind and Don’t Look Back!
    They just booked to play in Aurora, Illinois on August 10th and I just got tickets!
    Super-excited to see them play again! Tom Scholz is the man!

  • Al Doyle

    This is a great story about Tom Scholz. I grew up in Boston and I remember hearing Boston being played on WBCN, the Rock of Boston. Later I heard more about how Scholz was a former Polaroid engineer, who used his electronics skills and education to produce this “original Boston sound.” I still listen to Boston at age 58.

    • Chuck Jones

      I remember the Rock of Boston as well, the band and the radio station.
      grew up in Boston as well and have always admired Bostons music.
      every new song I write it always seems to have that flavor of tom scholz and Boston.

  • bandit

    A true master !

  • Monte

    I saw them in both Allen and Austin Texas. I’m from San Antonio. Hell yeah I drove to go see them. Should they decide to come anywhere from in Texas I’ll do it all over again. Thank you Tom. All of y’all were incredible. You are truly a master. Kim is an awesome addition. The girl from American Idol was awesome. Come back to Texas anytime….

    • Don

      July 20, 2014 in Cedar Park (Austin area) Boston put on a helluva show. They played “Feelin Satisfied” and the crowd clapped, swayed and sang along. Talk about a natural high! One of the best concerts I have ever been to in my 35 years of show going! Agreed! “Thank you Tom!”

  • Steve Petersen

    Hi Tom,
    Steve Petersen here thanking you for all the wonderful concert experiences over the years. I was at Fiddlers Green in Colorado and had the usual awesome fun = dancing singing, clapping and sharing love with the other listeners there. I have been a fan since the beginning and your songs live in my heart forever. I appreciate you for all the ingenuity and intelligence you have brought to music! The sounds you create are wonderful and you shared that with all who desired to go to the next level. Wish I could somehow repay you for all you have given to me. If you would enjoy a free massage it would be my pleasure to treat your sore muscles!
    LOVE ALL and keep coming around but more often please.

    • jp

      ok – that was creepy!

  • Jason Gilman

    You’ve been my musical idol since I heard the debut album and forever since then I was a rocker. The dedication, perfectionism, and inventiveness that goes along with everything that is Boston is truly something that all musicians and artists should look up to. Not enough understand the true meaning of the word ‘patience’ when it comes to recording music and making art. But that’s what you taught me Tom, and I’ll forever be grateful.


  • Randy Sutton


    From one engineer to another Thank you for all the years of great innovative music.

    Still on my quest to find one of your best inventions, The Rockman!

    All the best,
    Randy Sutton
    Silverdale, WA.

  • gage

    tom scholz i like your solos at the concert on aug 2 so i don t know your phone number but awesome

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  • NF

    Trying out a guitar at a music store, the owner plugged me into a bunch of Rockman guitar effects. Truly the best sound I’ve ever heard. Completely stunned and excited to have the best sounding rig, I went out and bought the whole thing.

    To this day, I still use the Rockmand effects, whether live or when I record. Nothing else comes close to that signature sound. Back in the day, I even put an old drum machine through it and people think they’re hearing the real thing.

    Now when I go in to try out a guitar, I’m proud to say that I use Rockman effects and they don’t have anything like it but they can try to plug me into the best thing out there. He put me into a Line 6 amp which doesn’t even come close to what you’ve produced.

    So, I’m begging you, to re-release the Rockman guitar effects. Go to Dunlop and tell them you want the rights to produce these effects again. Everyone will thank you, including me.

    Great set of videos, and thanks for everything you’ve done.