Donald Thomas "Tom" Scholz is the primary songwriter, musician and founding member of the Massachusetts-based rock band Boston. He is also a notable inventor, businessman, and social activist.
Scholz was born on March 10, 1947 in Toledo, Ohio. As a teenager, he was quickly identified as a skilled 6-foot-5-inch-tall basketball player, but his roots as a classically trained pianist and interest in pop music led to future musical endeavors. In 1965, Scholz was awarded a full scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to his previous experience with keyboards, at MIT, he taught himself how to play the guitar. He earned an SB degree in mechanical engineering in 1969. After obtaining a master's degree in 1970 , Scholz went on to work for the Polaroid Corporation as a product design engineer. During this time, Scholz wrote, played, and recorded most of the tracks for Boston's debut album in a makeshift studio built in the basement of his apartment. Much of the recording equipment used was either built or modified by Scholz himself. After teaming with vocalist Brad Delp, the album was completed and later released by Epic Records in 1976. The self-titled effort quickly became the largest-selling debut album of all time, and Boston was nominated for a Grammy award as "Best New Artist." Scholz has subsequently written, produced, and engineered all of Boston's albums.
Often regarded as a musical and technical genius, Scholz formed a lucrative audio-electronics firm in the 1980s called Scholz Research & Development, Inc. The company, founded to create high-tech musical equipment, would eventually market the highly successful "Rockman" guitar amplifier, a miniature practice amp with headphones. He sold the company to Dunlop Manufacturing, Inc., in 1995. Scholz has been named as inventor on 34 U.S. patents.
Scholz is occasionally referred to as a "perfectionist,"(which Scholz himself has confirmed describing himself as "picky") . This reputation and unwillingness to complete albums in the timeframe set be the label led to a series of conflicts which included a multi-million dollar breach-of-contract lawsuit by CBS Inc., which Scholz later defeated. He was also sued by former Boston band members claiming they were cheated out of royalty payments; these lawsuits were later settled out of court.
Scholz's musical style, distinguishable by melodic and harmonic phrasings, is admittedly influenced by such classic rock acts as The Animals, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, and The James Gang. Though much of Boston's music has been criticized for its slick and seemingly flawless production value, Scholz has continued to write and produce most of Boston's music, virtually free of record company influence. Boston continues to be a major concert draw, and many of the band's classic hits are still in regular radio rotation. Several contemporary musicians credit Scholz as one of their primary musical influences, including Slash of Guns N' Roses fame, the late Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi.
Scholz is heavily involved with charity organizations such as Greenpeace, PETA and domestic violence groups. He received the Mahatma Gandhi Award in 1987, and was named "Man of the Year" by the National Hospice Organization in 1988.