Top 10 Bands And Artists From Boston

Bands And Artists From Boston

Feature Photo: Photography Stock Ruiz / Shutterstock.com

The top 10 bands and artists from Boston will likely have fans thinking about the group founded by Tom Scholz in 1975. However, they may also think about Steven Tyler and Aerosmith, too. These two bands, as well as the legendary Donna Summer, have become the most influential and celebrated recording artists of all time. Where Aerosmith and Boston rocked so many houses down, Donna Summer had no trouble seducing a global audience to the charms of her singing voice. Also not to be forgotten is James Taylor, a singer-songwriter who excelled at pouring his heart out in the form of some of the best songwriting in the music industry and his fans have been graced with it.

When thinking about the musical influences that came from Boston, there’s so much more to the city than its famed Boston Symphony Orchestra and the legacy of classical music. As one of America’s oldest and most beloved cities, Boston boasts a legacy of musical talent that has either tapped into or created rock-style genres that continue to keep the city standing out as a haven for creativity.

Top 10 Bands and Artists from Boston

#10 – The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones was a hardcore ska punk band that was first founded as The Bosstones in Boston in 1983. The original lineup featured Dicky Barrett, Tim “Johnny Vegas” Burton, Ben “Bosstone” Carr, and Joe Gittleman. The band got its name as a reference to a city near the towns members of the group came from. The musical influence that fueled this group featured a punkish fusion of AC/DC, Motorhead, Stiff Little Fingers, Social Distortion, and The Clash. As for Barrett, he was a huge fan of 2 Tone, a British-based musical ska-style genre that meshed punk, reggae, and rock together. This was the UK’s most popular style of music at the time as its fans couldn’t seem to get enough of it. Barrett was no exception.

Thanks to groups like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the popularity of ska punk was no longer just a British thing. After undergoing a series of lineup changes, Barrett and his bandmates made their debut recording with two songs for a compilation album known as Mash It Up in 1987. This was followed by another ska-based compilation album in 1989, Mashin’ Up the Nation. After this, the group temporarily disbanded in order for Barrett’s guitarist at the time, Nate Albert, to finish high school.

Gittleman was also a high school student at the time and needed to finish his education as well. After reuniting, Barrett and his group learned there was another band called The Bosstones. It was an a cappella group from Philidelphia that produced one record in 1959 that would have dropped off into obscurity if it hadn’t been for a Mexican-based radio station turning one of its songs, “Mope-itty Mope,” into a regional cult favorite. Although by 1983 the Philly-based Bosstones was no more, it was suggested by a bartender friend for Barrett and his bandmates to alter its name to Mighty Mighty Bosstones as a means to avoid any potential legal issues.

Now as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the group earned a recording contract with Taang! that would lead to the 1990 release of its first album, Devil’s Night Out. Locally, it met with positive reviews. This was not the case nationally as ska wasn’t quite popular enough to win over many mainstream music fans at the time. The group also met with opposition from purist ska fans who didn’t care for the mix of this musical style with hard rock and heavy metal.

Despite the mixed reaction, Devil’s Night Out became one of the most popular albums produced by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. While on tour promoting it, the plaid clothing that was worn by Barrett became the start of a fashion trend that would become the band’s trademark image. Fans began to show up wearing plaid as well, enough so that Converse turned to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones to promote a new line of Chuck Taylor sneakers. As the band appeared in the ads, its popularity spiked even further.

By the time the 1991 EP Where’d You Go? was released, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones experienced another lineup change that would cover a series of songs originally performed by Aerosmith, Metallica, and Van Halen. “Where’d You Go?” was one of the band’s original tunes, as was its new version of “Do Somethin’ Crazy.” This was a song that was originally featured on the group’s debut album. The EP would be followed by the recording and release of 1992’s More Noises and Other Disturbances.

The success of this would lead to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones signing up with its first major label, Mercury Records. This led to the group’s second EP, Ska-Core, the Devil, and More. This was a 1993 release that once again mostly featured cover songs as the band members paid tribute to their favorite punk artists, Minor Threat, SSD, The Angry Samoans, and The Wailers. There were also three live tracks in the recording, as well as one original studio song, “Someday I Suppose.” This would appear on the band’s third album, Don’t Know How to Party. Originally, “Someday I Suppose” was supposed to serve as a promo and nothing more. However, Mercury liked it so much that it was turned into a single.

1994’s Kiss My Ass became another compilation album The Mighty Mighty Bosstones would partake in its tracklist. Barrett and his team recorded a cover version of KISS’s classic, “Detroit Rock City.” This was another single Mercury released and it was popular enough to continue the spike of popularity The Mighty Mighty Bosstones experienced. 1994 also witnessed the release of the group’s fourth studio album, Question the Answers. There was also a new version of “Where’d You Go?” the group recorded for Alicia Silverstone’s movie, Clueless.

The band appeared in the teenage comedy, performing this song, as well as “Someday I Suppose” during a college frat party scene. After this, it was 1995’s Here We Go Again EP and 1997’s Let’s Face It studio album. This would be the record that would serve as the biggest seller for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, thanks to its single, “The Impression That I Get.” It became a number-one hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. The album itself became certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The popularity and success of Let’s Face It prompted Mercury to release Live From the Middle East in 1998. It was actually recorded at a concert The Mighty Mighty Bosstones performed in 1997 at The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was the fourth year in a row the group performed its annual concert visit to the area during the Christmas season an annual tradition that would continue until 2002. After that, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones wouldn’t pick this tradition up again until 2007.

Between the 2000 release of Pay Attention and the 2002 release of A Jacknife to a Swan, these albums weren’t nearly as successful as their predecessors. This led The Mighty Mighty Bosstones to go on hiatus until they decided to return in 2007. Between 2009 and 2021, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones recorded and released four more studio albums. Until 2019, it continued with the annual Hometown Throwdown music festival during the Christmas season in Cambridge and later Boston. In January 2022, the group officially disbanded.

#9 – ‘Til Tuesday

The start of Boston’s ‘Til Tuesday began in 1982 when lead vocalist Aimee Mann teamed up with drummer Michael Hausman, guitarist Robert Holmes, and keyboardist Joey Pesce. The group first rose to fame after winning the city’s 1983 edition of WBCN Rock & Roll Rumble. The song used to earn the win was “Love in a Vacuum.” Upon the win, ‘Til Tuesday earned a contract with Epic Records. While with the label, “Love in a Vacuum” was recorded again for the 1985 album, Voices Carry. As fate had it, the title track proved to be the big hit that would earn Mann and her group nationwide exposure as a new wave act.

On the US Billboard Hot 100, “Voices Carry” became a number eight hit. The inspiration behind the song reportedly came from an argument that erupted between Mann and Hausman. Prior to the album’s release, the two were in a relationship before deciding to break things off. What added to the popularity of “Voices Carry” was the music video MTV put into heavy rotation that had Mann portrayed as the girlfriend of an emotionally abusive boyfriend. By the end of the video, the woman finally cracked while she and her man were at an upper-class concert performance. She stood up and took her hat off, revealing a punkish hairstyle as she verbally belted out her frustrations.

This video earned ‘Til Tuesday an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist. After this, 1986’s Welcome Home was an album that had Mann become more involved as a songwriter. At the same time, the group was steering away from the new wave sound that dominated Voices Carry. This change of style featured “What About Love,” a single that only peaked as high as number twenty-six on the US Billboard Hot 100. This was considered a disappointment, just like ‘Til Tuesday’s second album. After this, the lineup changed when Pesce was out and was replaced by Michael Montes as the new keyboardist. This also came at the same time Mann’s two-year relationship with another recording artist, Jules Shear had come to an end. It was a breakup that would engineer most of the tracklist for 1988’s Everything’s Different Now as the group’s third album.

There were a few collaborations with other artists on it, though, such as “The Other End (Of the Telescope).” This one featured Elvis Costello’s involvement as a guest vocalist. “Everything’s Different Now” was a collaborative effort between Mann and Matthew Sweet. Before the album was released, Holmes left the lineup that would shrink ‘Til Tuesday to become a two-person act with Mann and Hausman.

Although the group’s third studio album met with critical praise, it once again failed to measure up to commercial expectations. The lead single, “(Believed You Were) Lucky” barely squeaked in on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number ninety-five. After Everything’s Different Now was released as an album, Mann and Hausman went their separate ways. Mann continued to carry ‘Til Tuesday with a variety of session players while having to contend with legal issues between herself and Epic Records. She wasn’t able to move forward as a solo artist until those were resolved.

Although Aimee Mann was technically born in Richmond, Virginia, her childhood experiences include being kidnapped by her own mother and a new boyfriend who took her to Europe. Her biological father was able to track them down and bring the young Aimee Mann home to Bon Air, Virginia. One form of therapy that helped her was learning how to play bass guitar while confined to a bed with glandular fever when she was twelve years old. As a teenager, she became a fan of new wave music and punk. In 1978, she attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts as she studied bass guitar. It would be here she’d meet Michael Hausman and together they’d form‘Til Tuesday.

#8 – Pixies

As students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, neighbors Joey Santiago and Charles Michael Kittidge Thompson IV (aka Black Francis) began to perform jam sessions together that would lead to the formation of their first band in January 1986. An advertisement was placed to find a bass player who was a fan of alternative rock and folk. As it turned out, Kim Deal was the only applicant but showed up at the audition without an instrument. She admitted she never played one before but admitted she was a fan of the songs Black Francis showed her in the ad.

Those songs came from Husker and Peter, Paul and Mary. After she got her hands on a bass guitar, Santiago and Francis rehearsed with her in her apartment. It was during this time Kim would bring her sister, Kelley Deal to audition as the band’s drummer. As it turned out, Kelley Deal was more interested in playing songs written by her sister so she wound up joining her band, the Breeders. This would be the group both Kim and Kelley Deal would start leading in 1989 after the Pixies went on hiatus that same year.

As a band name, Pixies was a randomly chosen word from a dictionary that won its appeal as this was used to describe troublemaking elves. It would be during this time that then-married Kim Deal and the rest of the Pixies bandmates worked with David Lovering out of his parents’ garage which would lead to playing various gigs throughout the Boston area. After playing in concert with another group, Throwing Muses, the Pixies were noticed by a manager from Fort Apache Studios. Producer Gary Smith was determined to turn Pixies into stars with a recording session that would have a seventeen-track demo tape fans referred to as the Purple Tape.

This was the color of the tape cover’s background. This demo recording was handed by the band’s manager, Ken Goes, to 4AD, an independent record label that had Ivo Watts-Russell on its payroll. The man wasn’t interested in the music but was persuaded by his girlfriend to give the Pixies a chance. After a recording contract was signed, Come on Pilgrim would be a short album production by the Pixies. The religious-based lyrics were inspired by the parents of Black Francis as his parents had become born-again Christians. The majority of the songs were based on Francis’s experiences as he grew up in Puerto Rico before going to the university in Boston.

After Come on Pilgrim was Surfer Rosa. This was a full-length album that took two weeks to complete before it was released in 1988. It became popular in Europe, enough to become Album of the Year with the EU-based critics, Melody Maker and Sounds. As for its performance in the United States, the critical response was positive but mostly muted. This would be the case throughout the career span of the Pixies as a recording artist.

Over time, Surfer Rose became certified gold by the RIAA as of 2005. It already earned this status with the UK’s British Phonographic Industry as well as Music Canada. Right on the heels of Come on Pilgrim was Doolittle, an album that was recorded near the end of 1988 with a music style quite different from its predecessors. This was the album that produced “Here Comes Your Man” as a single, as well as “Monkey Gone to Heaven.” These were popular rock favorites that won over fans and music critics with enough momentum to achieve platinum status with the BPI and RIAA. It also became certified gold in Canada and France.

While Pixies was riding the height of its popularity, tensions rose between Kim Deal and Black Francis including a guitar thrown at Deal during a concert they held in Stuttgart, Germany. There was also an incident where Deal refused to perform with the band during a concert in Frankfurt. It nearly got her fired as the woman was pushing to have her influence as a singer-songwriter gain more exposure as a member of the Pixies. When this wasn’t about to happen as this was still a band belonging to Black Francis, this marked the beginning of Deal’s shift to go in her own direction that would lead to the founding of the Breeders.

1989 marked the year the Pixies decided it was time to take a break as a band. This was followed by a 1990 move by Black Francis and Joey Santiago to relocate to Los Angeles, California, along with David Lovering. With Kim Deal officially out of the lineup, the Pixies recorded its third studio album, Bossanova. This featured the singles “Dig for Fire” and “Velouria.” Once again, the music from the Pixies was considerably more popular in Europe and the UK than it was in the United States. This was also the case with 1991’s Trompe le Monde. After this, members of the Pixies went their separate ways as creative differences between them began to mount up and it was agreed it was time to take a breather.

In 2004, the full roster of the Pixies reunited to embark on a concert tour. Nearly all of the tickets were sold out within a matter of minutes, showing the group’s popularity was still just as high as ever. In 2004, after a series of tours in America, Europe, and the UK, it won Act of the Year at the Boston Music Awards. It was also in 2004 that the Pixies released “Bam Thwok” as a single that was sold exclusively on the iTunes Music Store. It became a number-one hit in the UK. 4AD also released Wave of Mutilation: The Best of Pixies and the DVD, Pixies.

The reunion lasted until 2013 when Deal decided it was time to move on again. Two weeks after this, “Bagboy” was released as a free download from the Pixies’ website. She would be replaced by Kim Shattuck as the Pixies embarked on its 2013 European tour. In September of that same year, the Pixies released EP1 approximately six weeks before Shattuck was let go from the band. She was replaced by Paz Lenchantin for its 2014 tour. In 2014, the Pixies released two additional EPs, EP2 and EP3. It also released Indie Cindy, an album that merged the music from all three EPs.

As of 2016, Lenchantin became a permanent member of the Pixies which would lead to the release of its sixth studio album, Head Carrier. This was followed by 2019’s Beneath the Eyrie, then 2022’s Doggerel. She, along with Francis Black, David Lovering, and Joey Santiago continue to perform as the Pixies, carrying on a legacy that has kept the fans entertained for over four decades.

#7 – Dropkick Murphys

Technically out of Quincy is a Celtic punk band known as Dropkick Murphys. It was formed in 1996 by lead vocalist Mike McColgan, bassist Ken Casey, guitarist Rick Barton, and drummer Jeff Erna. The band got its name after Dr. John “Dropkick” Murphy and his detoxification facility as the band performed in the basement of a friend’s barbershop. In 1997, the group got its first big break when it became the opening act for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in its Let’s Face It tour.

In 1998, the Dropkick Murphys made its album debut with Do or Die. After this, McColgan left the band while it was in the middle of a United States tour. This came at a time when the Dropkick Murphys were rivals of Al Barr’s group, the Bruisers. Upon learning about the departure of McColgan, it was assumed the Dropkick Murphys was done but as fate had it, Barr was approached to audition for the group. It was an offer he accepted that would lay out his fate, as well as the band he once upon a time resented because of its fast rise to popularity. “Curse of a Fallen Soul” would be the first single the band released with Barr as its lead singer.

In 1999, The Gang’s All Here would become the group’s second studio album. This one had punk music that was closer to the hardcore sounds his old band, the Bruisers, was known for. It also had a stronger Celtic influence that would serve as a recipe for success to gain mainstream exposure. “10 Years of Service” was a single that received much airplay as a music video. However, by the time 2000 hit, Rick Barton decided he had enough and chose to move on.

By this time, James Lynch was already part of the lineup. After Barton’s departure, a teenage guitarist named Marc Orrell was brought on board, as well as Ryan Foltz and Robbie “Spicy McHaggis” Mederios. This new lineup recorded 2001’s Sing Loud, Sing Proud! an album that featured a new sound that would become successful enough for Dropkick Murphys to enjoy its biggest concert tour yet. There were three shows recorded in 2002 that would lead to its first live album, Live on St. Patrick’s Day from Boston, MA.

In 2003, the Dropkick Murphys would experience additional lineup changes before the release of Blackout. This album produced two hits, “Walk Away” and “Fields of Athenry.” It was the second of these two singles that became the fan favorite. There was also “Time to Go,” a song written about the National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins. This song was also featured on Tony Hawk’s Underground skateboard-themed video game, as well as NHL 2005. It was also in 2004, that the Dropkick Murphys did a remake of “Tessie,” a Boston Red Sox anthem that would be featured in 2005’s Fever Pitch and on the EA Sports MVP Baseball 2005 soundtrack.

This was followed by 2005’s The Warrior’s Code, the final studio album Dropkick Murphys recorded while signed with Hellcat Records. This one featured “Tessie” and “The Warrior’s Code,” along with “Sunshine Highway.” It also had a re-recorded version of “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” a song that was originally recorded for “Fields of Athenry.” “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” was the song featured in the 2006 Academy Award winner, The Departed. It would be this song that would win the Dropkick Murphys even more mainstream attention than it had previously.

It was also a popular tune for Red Sox’s Jonathan Papelbon as he’d use it to dance throughout the 2007 championship season he had with the team. After the player was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, he was no longer allowed to use what was deemed a “Boston song.” “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” became certified platinum by the RIAA and remains as one of the best-known songs the Dropkick Murphys ever recorded and released. In total, the Dropkick Murphys have recorded and released twelve albums, including 2023’s Okemah Rising. The legacy this group has continues just as strong as ever as one of Boston’s finest.

#6 – The Del Fuegos

Formed in 1980 in Boston, The Del Fuegos became popular in 1986 after two of its songs were featured on television commercials for Miller Beer. “I Still Want You” and “Don’t Run Wild” were the two signature singles that made the band famous. The garage-style rock band was founded by eighteen-year-old Dan Zanes and seventeen-year-old Warren Zanes. The two brothers signed with Slash Records which specialized in local punk rock bands and released its first studio album, The Longest Day, in 1984. This was followed in 1985 by Boston, Mass, the album responsible for “Don’t Run Wild,” a single that would peak as high as number forty-six on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. It was also responsible for “I Still Want You,” which was released as the follow-up single. It became the biggest hit for the brothers as it peaked as high as number thirty-three on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. This song also charted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number eighty-seven.

After the success of the first two albums, The Del Fuegos recorded and released Stand Up in 1987. This one met with commercial disappointment but the Zanes as the Del Fuegos maintained their popularity when they toured with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Georgia Satellites. What made this recording so different was the R&B sounds that were thrown into the rock songs. This can be heard in the album’s hit single, “Name Names.” On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, it peaked as high as number forty-three. Stand Up also had a collection of guest vocalists and musicians, including Petty. Despite the star guest roster, it wasn’t enough to convince Slash Records to keep the Del Fuegos around. The label dropped them and as a result, Warren Zanes decided it was time to move on. After obtaining two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in Visual and Cultural Arts, he later became the Vice President of Education at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In addition to the Zanes, there was also a bass guitarist named Tom Lloyd who had stuck with the Del Fuegos until the release of the band’s fourth studio album, Smoking in the Fields. This was a 1989 release by RCA Records that produced the group’s final hit, “Move With Me Sister.” On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, it was a number thirty-two hit. It was also a number twenty-two hit on the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart. This marked the end of the Del Fuegos as Dan Zanes and his bandmates agreed now that the 1980s was over, so were they.

It wouldn’t be until 2011 that they’d reunite, first at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. The Del Fuegos performed for a fundraiser for a rehab program that was run by the band’s drummer, Woody Giessmann. After this, the Zanes and their crew embarked on a reunion tour that ran for about a month between February and March 2012. It would be during this time eight new songs would be recorded and released on its EP, Silver Star.

After his original run with the Del Fuegos was done, founder Dan Zanes moved on with a solo career that would lead to a 2007 Grammy Award win for Best Musical Album for Children. The 2006 recording and release of Catch That Train! was part of an impressive legacy that demonstrated there was more to Zanes than rockin’ the house down as a punk performer. In 2023, he and his Del Fuegos gang teamed up again to perform in concert in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

#5 – Donna Summer

Before becoming the iconic “Queen of Disco,” Donna Summer was born Donna Adrian Gaines on December 31, 1948, in Boston as one of seven siblings who would be raised in the neighborhood of Mission Hill. When she was ten years old, she replaced a church vocalist who missed attendance. While at school, she performed in school musicals that added to her popularity as a singer.

Just before she was due to graduate in 1967, Summer headed to New York City so she could join Crow, a blues rock band that failed to secure a contract with a recording label. As a result, it dissolved and Summer decided to audition for Hair, the counterculture musical that would change the woman’s life forever. She was cast as Sheila and was sent to Munich, Germany in 1968 to take part in its production show. Her first single was the German version of Hair‘s “Aquarius.”

During her time there, Summer learned how to speak German and was able to sing in that language as well. Approximately three years later, she moved to Vienna, Austria to join an ensemble vocal group known as Family Tree. It would be during this timeframe she’d release “Sally Go ‘Round the Roses” as her second single. This was a big hit for the Jaynetts’ when it was originally released in 1963.

In 1973, Summer married an Austrian actor named Helmuth Sommer. They had a daughter, Natalia, that same year. At the time, she provided backing vocals as “Gayn Pierre” became her first stage name before it was changed to Donna Summer in 1974. While with the Oasis label, a demo tape was sent that paved the way for the singer to release her debut album, Lady of the Night.

It was supposed to credit her as Donna Sommer but due to a spelling error on the record cover, it was printed as Donna Summer. It was a name that would stick for the rest of her life. At the time, Donna Summer was a star among several European nations, thanks to “The Hostage” and the album’s title track. However, “The Hostage” was removed from the radio stations due to the politically sensitive lyrical content that was used in the song. This hadn’t diminished Summer’s popularity among the fans and critics, however.

A year after the success of Lady of the Night, Summer was approached to sing “Love to Love You Baby” but she turned it down at first. At the time, Oasis Records’ owner Giovanni Morodor had another recording artist in his stable who also performed this song after it was first passed by Summer. After hearing the two versions, it was Summer’s that was deemed the favorite.

It would be released as a single that would be sent to Casablanca Records so it could reach an American audience. The label’s president, Neil Bogart, wasted no time signing Donna Summer up and having what became one of her signature singles released in late 1975. This became a cult classic that would peak as high as number two on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also became certified gold by Music Canada and the RIAA. This title track to Summer’s second studio album also drew controversy as her vocal performance featured a series of moans as if she was in the middle of a sexual experience.

There were some American and European radio stations that refused to play it. Despite this, the popularity of “Love to Love You Baby” soared Donna Summer to global stardom as it was her singing voice and how the song was performed that won so much attention. It became one of her biggest hits that peaked in the top ten among the music charts belonging to Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

Right on the heels of “Love to Love You Baby” was a follow-up album, A Love Trilogy, and its single “Try Me, I Know We Can Make It.” This also met with success as it became a number-one hit on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. It didn’t fair out nearly as well on the US Billboard Hot 100 as it only peaked as high as number eighty. However, it was popular enough to become a top twenty hit in Europe and it further established Summer’s career as a popular favorite among disco music fans.

After 1977’s I Remember Yesterday and “I Feel Love,” Summer’s status as the “Queen of Disco” was set. The single became a number-one hit among the nations of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, and the UK. It was a number-six hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. The single became certified platinum in Canada, and gold with the BPI and RIAA. This concept album went on to become certified platinum by the RIAA. It also became gold in France and the UK.

Also released in 1977 was Once Upon a Time, a concept album that behaved like a disco-style Cinderella story. It was successful enough to become certified gold, keeping Donna Summer at the top of her game as one of the hottest recording artists in the music industry. Also in 1977 was “Deep Down Inside,” the theme song for The Deep. In 1978, Donna Summer was featured in the movie, Thank God It’s Friday. While the film wasn’t exactly a smashing success, her single “Last Dance” was. It became a number three hit on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Thanks to this, the soundtrack and the song became certified gold. It also gave Donna Summer her first Grammy Award win for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. The composer of the song, Paul Jabara, earned an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his contribution to what became another one of Summer’s signature songs. Also on the soundtrack with Donna Summer as vocalist were “With Your Love” and “Je t’aime… moi non plus.”

She also covered the Jimmy Webb ballad, “MacArthur Park” which would become her first number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. This also became certified gold and it was the first time a female recording artist in the modern rock era to reach the very top of the Hot 100 chart, as well as on the US Billboard 200 album chart. While “MacArthur Park” was doing so well, “Heaven Knows” was a duet Summer had with Joe “Bean” Esposito that would become a number four hit on the same Billboard chart. It also became certified gold.

At the 1979 American Music Awards, Donna Summer dominated it with three wins. She won Favorite Disco Female Artist, Favorite Disco Album for Live and More, and Favorite Disco Song for “Last Dance.” That same year also witnessed the release of five major hits for Summer, starting with “Hot Stuff.” This was followed by “Bad Girls,” “Heaven Knows,” “Dim All the Lights,” and No More Tears (Enough is Enough).”

“Hot Stuff” earned Summer her second number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 while Bad Girls topped the US Billboard 200. It was a great way to end a decade, just in time to fire off a new one with yet another string of hits, starting with 1980’s “On the Radio.” This became a number-five hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and became yet another RIAA-certified gold seller. “The Wanderer” would peak at number three on the same chart as yet another popular song from On the Radio. After this, Donna Summer opted to broaden her musical style.

Summer’s choice met with opposition from Casablanca Records as the label wanted her to stick to disco. Adding even more fuel to the fire between Casablanca and Summer was a chain of events that led to each party suing the other ultimately had the singer-songwriter come out on top as the winner. Although ther was no monetary gain that came out of it, Summer did maintain sole rights to “Dim All the Lights” as a song that strictly came from her own penmanship.

With the drama of Casablanca behind her, Summer signed up with Geffen to record and release The Wanderer. Instead of relying on disco, she brought in musical elements of gospel, new wave, rock and rockabilly. It was a formula that worked as it also became certified gold by the RIAA. The title track became a number three hit on the US Billboard, followed by the modest hits of “Cold Love” and “Who Do You Think You’re Foolin’.”

For “I Believe in Jesus,” she earned a Best Inspirational Performance nomination at the 1981 Grammy Awards. After this, Summer went back to work on her next album. After David Geffen heard what was a work in progress, he felt this project wasn’t good enough and ordered it canceled. It wouldn’t be until 1996 that I’m a Rainbow would be released. “Highway Runner” would be a song from that album that would be featured on the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack while “Romeo” appeared on Flashdance‘s soundtrack.

Determined to help Donna Summer come up with better material, Geffen hired Quincy Jones to help the woman produce Donna Summer. This was a difficult project to complete as Summer was pregnant at the time and found it difficult to sing. The album featured another hit single, “Love is in Control (Finger on the Trigger.” Like several other songs she recorded previously, it earned Donna Summer a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

This was also the case with “Protection,” a song written for her by Bruce Springsteen. After this, Geffen Records was informed by Polygram Records that Summer still owed one more album in order to fulfill the contract she had with Casablanca, which the label now owned. In response, 1983’s She Works Hard for the Money became Summer’s next album that would feature the title track as her next big hit. It became a number three hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and a number one hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

It also earned her yet another Grammy Award nomination. The album also produced “He’s a Rebel,” a song that would earn Summer a Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance. Also in 1983 was the album, Cats Without Claws. It was the first time Summer had an album that failed to become certified gold and it was also the first time since 1977 she wouldn’t have a top ten hit. It did, however, earn Summer another Best Inspirational Performance Grammy Award win for “Forgive Me.”

As a recording artist, Donna Summer continued to go strong, which was evident in 1998 when she won a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording with “Carry On,” a single she released in 1997 as a duet with Giorgio Moroder. In 2000, “The Power of One” was recorded as a theme song for Pokemon: The Movie 2000. This ballad was produced by David Foster and it had jazzed up DJ remixes that became a popular favorite on the dance floor.

Between this and a legacy for some of the best dance and disco music ever recorded, Donna Summer would be inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2004. Her song, “I Feel Love,” was inducted as well. That year, as well as 2005 witnessed Summer’s domination on the dance charts continue with “You’re So Beautiful” and “I Got Your Love.” After this, Summer released Crayons as her seventeenth studio album. This 2008 recording featured “I’m a Fire,” “Stamp Your Feet,” and “Fame (The Game)” as three hit singles that each topped the US Billboard Dance Chart.

In 2010, Summer released “To Paris with Love,” another single that would top the US Billboard Dance Chart. Three years later, she was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On May 17, 2012, Donna Summer passed away from lung cancer in her home in Naples, Florida. This was the same year “I Feel Love” was included in the list of preserved recordings by the Library of Congress and its National Recording Registry. What Donna Summer left behind as a legacy, along with Giorgio Moroder, was a tremendous impact on music culture that changed it forever. Summer was the Queen of Disco while Moroder was dubbed as the “King of Disco.”

#4 – James Taylor

Born on March 12, 1948, at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, James Taylor was raised as the son of a resident physician at the hospital. He, along with his three siblings, Alex, Kate, and Livingston each established successful careers as musicians. Their youngest brother, Hugh, also performed but chose not to stay in the music industry. Instead, he and his wife owned and operated a bed and breakfast known as The Outermost Inn in Aquinnah.

It is a town located on the western shore of Martha’s Vineyard Island. When James Taylor was about three years old, the Taylors moved to Chapel Hill, California as his father accepted a position at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. However, starting in 1953, the family spent their summers on Martha’s Vineyard. While growing up, James Taylor was taught the cello before he learned the guitar in 1960. His source of inspiration came from Woody Guthrie’s music, as well as a collection of carols and hymns.

During one particular summer on Martha’s Vineyard, James Taylor met a teenage Danny Kortchmar who was a New Yorker who also played the guitar. Together, the boys listened to blues and folk music, both learning how to play these musical styles in the process. When he was fourteen years old, James Taylor wrote his first song as he continued to learn how to hone his skills as a guitarist. Starting in the summer of 1963, he and Kortchmar billed themselves as “Jamie & Kootch” as they performed in various coffeehouses at Martha’s Vineyard. While still a student between high school and Milton Academy, James Taylor teamed with his older brother, Alex, to form The Corsayers. It would later be changed to The Fabulous Corsairs where the two cut a single in 1964 called “Cha Cha Blues.”

After this, James Taylor went back to Milton, Massachusetts where he began to apply for college while finishing his senior year at the boarding school. However, he fell into a state of deep depression where he committed himself to a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts in 1965. It wouldn’t be long after this the warring conditions of Vietnam would give the United States government cause to get involved. When the American men were drafted to be sent overseas, it was established James Taylor was not psychologically fit to go. It was as a patient at the hospital that he earned his high school diploma before moving on to enjoy what became an incredibly successful career as a musical artist.

After James Taylor checked himself out of the hospital, he moved to New York City to form a band. He, along with Kortchmar, put together a lineup that would call themselves the Flying Machine. At the time, Taylor wrote songs about his experience at the McLean Psychiatric Hospital. “Knocking ‘Round the Zoo” was one such song that lyrically served as an outlet for Taylor to express himself. By the summer of 1966, he and his bandmates became regular performers at the Night Owl Cafe in Greenwich Village.

While there, James Taylor’s association with a crowd that used recreational drugs introduced him to heroin, along with an addiction that nearly destroyed the man’s career and his life. It was also in 1966 that the Flying Machine cut a single he wrote, “Night Owl.” When it was released it did receive some radio airtime but not quite enough to crack into the US Billboard Hot 100. It was part of an album project the Flying Machine hoped would materialize while signed to Jay Gee Records but it fell through. As performers that met with one disappointment after another, the Flying Machine broke up. In 1971, the group’s recording would be released as James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine.

When his band broke up, Taylor attempted to launch a solo career. However, the toxic mix of depression and heroin addiction resulted in the need to undergo medical and psychiatric treatment. While hospitalized, Taylor had surgery done on his vocal cords as they were damaged when he poured too much stress into his performances as a singer. In 1967, he moved to London, England, hoping the change of scenery would be enough to get his solo career moving in a positive direction.

Still close with Kortchmar, Taylor would earn a big break with Apple Records and its producer, Peter Asher. This new label received Taylor’s demo, “Something in the Way She Moves,” and it was presented to George Harrison and Paul McCartney. Apple Records belonged to the Beatles and it was they who felt the performance of James Taylor was great enough to become the first non-British performer to sign with its label. Asher would later become Taylor’s manager as the singer originally from Boston continued to blossom as a singer-songwriter.

While in the UK, Taylor wrote “Carolina in My Mind,” a single that featured Harrison and McCartney performing with him. The lyrics, “holy host of others standing around me,” made direct reference to the Beatles. As for “Something in the Way She Moves,” this served as a source of inspiration for Harrison to make a hit with “Something.” “Carolina on My Mind” was the second single released from James Taylor’s self-titled debut album as the follow-up behind “Something in the Way She Moves.”

These singles were released in 1969 and it was enough to launch James Taylor’s career on his path to stardom. However, drugs were still a problem as he was not yet able to kick a habit that would send him to another treatment program. After going back to the United States, he committed himself to the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This was a hospital that used cultural and historical influences to help treat patients who experienced mental health issues. When he got out in 1969, James Taylor performed at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, as well as the Newport Folk Festival. However, his performance at the festival was cut fifteen minutes after he began as its cofounder, George Wein, made an announcement that the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon.

After performing in California, James Taylor returned to Martha’s Vineyard. While there, he was in a motorcycle accident that broke both of his hands and feet. As he recovered, he wrote a series of songs that would land him a record deal before 1969 was over with Warner Bros. Records. Once he was fully recovered, James Taylor moved to California to start recording the material for his second album, Sweet Baby James. 1970’s “Fire and Rain” was a song he’d performed that was based on his experiences with drug addiction and the treatment he took in an effort to recover.

Both the single and the album became big hits as “Fire and Rain” peaked as high as number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Sweet Baby James did the same on the US Billboard 200. The album went on to sell over three million copies in the United States and was considered a folk-rock masterpiece. For the first time in Taylor’s career, he became a popular figure with the mainstream audience. It would be an achievement he’d capitalize on as much as he could as a recording artist.

Starting in January 1971, James Taylor worked on the production of his next album, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon. This one earned critical acclaim and fan approval, thanks to Taylor’s version of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend.” Featured as the backing vocalist to this classic as Taylor performed it was the iconic Joni Mitchell. On the US Billboard Hot 100, this became a number-one hit. It was followed by “Long Ago and Far Away,” a song that would become a number four hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart.

James Taylor’s performance of “You’ve Got a Friend,” earned him a Grammy Award win for Best Pop Vocal Performance. This also earned Carole King a Grammy Award for Song of the Year. After this, it was 1972’s One Man Dog, James Taylor’s fourth studio album as a solo artist. This one featured a series of guest vocalists such as Carole King, John McLaughlin, Linda Ronstadt, and Carly Simon.

Unlike its predecessor, this album didn’t sell over two million copies. Its best-performing single was “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” which peaked as high as number fourteen on the US Billboard Hot 100. Otherwise, the album was considered a commercial disappointment. At the time, James Taylor was in a relationship with Carly Simon that would have the two singers marry on November 3, 1972. While married, the couple often found themselves in the spotlight and would perform as guest artists on each other’s songs and albums.

Their hit singles as a partnership included “Mockingbird” and “Devoted to You.” These were cover versions with “Mockingbird” belonging to Inxz & Charlie Foxx while “Devoted to You” came from The Everly Brothers. As a couple, Taylor and Simon had two children together. The first was a daughter, Sarah Marie “Sally” Taylor who was born in 1974. The second was a son, Benjamin Simon Taylor, born in 1977.

In 1974, Taylor released Walking Man as his fifth studio album. Even though it featured Paul and Linda McCartney as guest performers, as well as David Spinozza, the recording was deemed a critical and commercial failure. In 1975, Taylor redeemed himself with the 1975 release of Gorilla. This became certified gold by the RIAA, thanks to Taylor’s cover version of Marvin Gaye’s hit, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You).” This was performed with Carly Simon performing the backing vocals for a song that peaked as high as number five on the US Billboard Hot 100. In Canada and on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart, it shot straight to the top as a number-one hit.

Another big hit from the album was “Mexico,” a cheerful number that featured David Crosby and Graham Nash as guest performers. It peaked at number five on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart. In 1976, this was followed by In the Pocket. It also had a star-studded collection of guest performers but this melodic album met with harsh criticism by music critics who seemed to think it belonged in the junk pile. However, the fans disagreed as they bought enough copies for James Taylor’s last album with Warner Bros. Records to become certified gold by the RIAA. After James Taylor’s run with Warner Bros. was done, the label released a Greatest Hits album that featured his best work between 1970 and 1976. This wound up becoming his best-selling album as it went on to sell enough copies to become certified diamond by the RIAA. It sold approximately twenty million copies worldwide.

Starting in 1977, James Taylor began to record and release music with Columbia Records as his new label. JT would be the first and it was well received by music critics and fans. It sold over three million copies, enough to become certified platinum three times by the RIAA. The biggest hit from it was a cover of “Handy Man,” a single that came from Otis Blackwell and Jimmy Jones. It peaked as high as number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number one on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart. It also became a number-one hit in Canada. This song earned James Taylor another Grammy Award in the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance category. Also from the album was another fan favorite, “Your Smiling Face.”

Before the end of 1980, James Taylor had an encounter with Mark David Chapman a day before John Lennon was murdered. In an interview he gave BBC in 2010, Taylor brought up how he was pinned against the wall by a disturbed man who spoke about Lennon. Little did he know at the time he’d heard the assassination of John Lennon took place on December 8, 1980. Taylor lived in a building next door to Lennon’s so he could hear the five shots that were fired that day.

When March 1981 came around, Taylor released Dad Loves His Work. It was a reflective album as Taylor shared his experiences and perceptions of families. This became certified platinum by the RIAA and featured “Her Town Too” as a duet single with J.D. Souther. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number eleven hit. It peaked as high as number five on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart. This came about when it was announced Carly Simon and James Taylor were separating from each other. In 1983, the couple divorced in what was a highly publicized breakup. It was also during this time Taylor once again underwent treatment for his drug addiction. This time, it seemed as finally was able to kick his heroin habit as James Taylor was determined to be a better father to his children. This came about after the death of his friends, John Belushi and Dennis Wilson.

In 1985, James Taylor considered retirement from the music industry but his performance in Brazil received such an overwhelming response that it encouraged him to continue. “Only a Dream in Rio” was a song he wrote in tribute that was featured on his eleventh studio album, That’s Why I’m Here. Throughout the rest of the 1980s and going into the 1990s, Taylor’s recording career continued which would include some more chart hits that would place him as one of the best-selling recording artists of all time.

During this time period, his best album was 1998’s Hourglass, which earned a Grammy Award for Best Pop Album. In 2000, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame. A year later, he’d win another Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male for “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.” In 2003, he’d win yet another Grammy, this time for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals as he and Alison Krauss performed the duet, “How’s the World Treating You.” After this, James Taylor earned another Grammy Award in 2021 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for American Standard.

#3 -The Cars

Before the lineup of The Cars began in Boston, Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr met in Cleveland, Ohio, after Ocasek watched Orr perform as a member of the Grasshoppers on the Big 5 Show. It was a local variety show that featured different bands. Ocasek and Orr developed a partnership that would have them move to Boston. Accompanying them was guitarist Jas Goodkind. The trio formed Milkwood before releasing its sole album, How’s the Weather, in 1972. It didn’t meet with any success and that was the end of Milkwood’s career as a recording artist as the band’s name changed to Richard and the Rabbits.

The group added Greg Hawkes to the fold who had already played the saxophone when Milkwood recorded its album. However, Hawkes left as he took part in a musical comedy tour led by Martin Mull. Down to a duo again, Ocasek and Orr performed at the Idler coffee house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Some of the songs the men performed there would later become songs for The Cars shortly after the two came up with this name as their new band. Before going there, Ocasek and Orr continued to struggle when it came to putting together a band that would go from unsuccessful to successful. In 1976, at the suggestion of a friend, The Cars was officially founded as a rock band. However, it wouldn’t be until 1977 that Hawkes would fully commit himself to the lineup as its keyboardist as he had other obligations he needed to fulfill first.

It would be 1977 when The Cars earned its first taste of stardom when “Just What I Needed” was released as a single. First, it was a regional hit in Boston before receiving nationwide attention. This came about after The Cars signed with Elektra Records as a new wave act. In 1978, The Cars made its album debut, and “Just What I Needed” became its first single release. It became a number twenty-seven hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was followed by “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Good Times Roll.”

The first of these two songs peaked as high as number thirty-five while the second charted as high as number forty-one. This paved the way to record and release a second album, Candy-O. It performed even better, thanks to the group’s first top twenty hit, “Let’s Go.” It peaked as high as number fourteen on the US Billboard Hot 100. This was followed by two minor hits, “It’s All I Can Do” and “Double Life.”

The start of the 1980s for The Cars began with its third studio album, Panorama. This was a recording that witnessed a shift in musical style as the group began to experiment with new sounds. It was a production that wasn’t quite as successful as the first two as it only produced one minor hit, “Touch and Go.” After this, it was 1981’s Shake It Up. This came about after The Cars purchased Intermedia Studios in Boston and turned it into Syncro Sound. It would be here that the group would realize its greatest commercial success as a recording artist.

The title track became a number four hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and it was a number two hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. It also became a top ten hit among the nations of Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands. After The Cars completed its 1982 tour promoting the album, the group took a break that witnessed Ocasek and Hawkes embark on solo projects that had both men release albums of their own. Ocasek’s was Beatitude while Hawkes’ was Niagara Falls.

In 1984, The Cars teamed up again and released its fifth studio album, Heartbeat City. This served to be the band’s best work starting with “You Might Think.” This popular single became a number-one hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and a number-seven hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Its music video won Video of the Year during the first edition of the MTV Video Music Awards. It also released “Magic,” “Hello Again,” “Why Can’t I Have You,” and “Drive” as singles that each continued to highlight Orr’s talent as the group’s lead vocalist.

It was Orr’s voice that steered “Drive” to be used in a video produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that focused on the Ethiopian famine. The Cars were among the stars who performed at one of the venues held by the Live Aid concert in 1985. “Drive” wound up becoming the group’s biggest single as it peaked as high as number three on the US Billboard Hot 100. Now at superstardom status, The Cars experienced another hit with “Tonight She Comes.” It peaked as high as number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number one on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. This single came from the Cars’ Greatest Hits album that was released in October 1985.

Once again, the Cars took a break so its band members could embark on more solo projects. They’d team up again in 1987 for its sixth album, Door to Door. From it, “You Are the Girl” would be the last single released from the group that would become a major hit. It peaked as high as number seventeen on the US Billboard Hot 100 and as high as number two on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. Unfortunately, Door to Door didn’t meet with the same level of commercial success as The Cars’ previous albums. As of February 1988, The Cars decided it was time to call it quits. From there, each member went on to continue with solo projects. Throughout the 1990s, compilation albums were released that highlighted the best-recorded work The Cars performed as a band.

Just before Orr’s death from pancreatic cancer at fifty-three years old on October 3, 2000, the men from The Cars were interviewed for a documentary about the group. More recently, the classic Cars songs have been performed by the New Cars, a group that was put together by Elliott Easton and Greg Hawkes. Easton was the lead guitarist for the Cars since the beginning. Also starting with the band in 1976 that remained part of its core lineup was drummer David Robinson. These five men ushered in an era of classic new-wave rock that made them an international fan favorite. Adding to its legacy was the group’s first album used in the 2008 video game Rock Band. In 2018, The Cars were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

#2 – Boston

Straight out of Boston, Tommy Scholz founded Boston as a rock band in 1975. The majority of the instruments used in Boston as a debut album in 1976 were played by Scholz while Brad Delp performed as the lead vocalist. The only instrument he didn’t play was the drums, which was done by Jim Masdea. The success of this recording sold over seventeen million copies worldwide. Prior to this, Scholz was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While there, he joined a band called Freehold. Already writing music as of 1969, Scholz’s involvement with Freehold introduced him to a guitarist named Barry Goudreau and a drummer named Jim Masdea.

These two, along with Brad Delp, would form a band that would first call itself Mother’s Milk in 1973 before renaming itself Boston two years later. Within this timeframe, the group recorded six demos that included “More Than a Feeling,” “Peace of Mind,” and “Rock and Roll Band.” In 1974, Mother’s Milk officially broke up Delp and Madea continued to work with Scholz as they were determined to finish “More Than a Feeling” and a song that would become “Something About You” as demos. After this, Masdea informed Scholz he lost interest in playing the drums and that he would be taking on a new career direction. As a result, when Scholz and Delp moved on without him as Boston.

After Boston made its debut during the summer of 1976, this rock group shot to superstardom in a short period of time as it opened for top acts such as Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, and Foghat. Boston became the first band in history to make its debut performance in New York City at the famed Madison Square Garden. 1976 witnessed three hits produced, starting with “More than a Feeling.”

It became a number-five hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and sold over five hundred thousand copies to become certified gold by the RIAA. It also became gold in Denmark and Germany while reaching platinum in Italy and the UK. “Long Time” was next, which also became an international hit, including peaking as high as number twenty-two on the US Billboard Hot 100. “Peace of Mind” would be the third hit at number thirty-eight on the same American music chart.

1978’s Don’t Look Back was the follow-up album Boston released and it would also become a tremendous success for the group. It sold seven million copies worldwide. Between these two albums alone, it put Boston in the history books as one of the globally best-selling rock groups of all time. While recording Don’t Look Back, Scholz and his Boston bandmates were caught in the middle of a corporate dispute that brewed between its manager, Paul Ahern, and his business partner, Charles McKenzie.

This left Scholz having to work on the album on his own and release it as what he felt was a rush job. This recording produced its lead track as a single and it became another big hit as it peaked as high as number four on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was also an international hit, most notably in Canada at number six and in Ireland at number eight. This was followed by two additional hit singles, “A Man I’ll Never Be” and “Feelin’ Satisfied.”

Starting in 1979, Scholz began to write new material for an album that wouldn’t be released until 1986. The primary reason for the delay was Paul Ahern. There was a dispute over who deserved what when it came to whatever money Boston made between album sales and concert tours. As the fight ensued, Scholz suggested to his bandmates to take on solo projects until his dispute with Ahern was over. In the process, tensions also rose between CBS and Scholz which involved a series of legal issues that would ultimately have the court rule in favor of Scholz in 1990.

In the meantime, Scholz, Delp, and Masdea worked together to record and release Third Stage in 1986. Helping them with this in 1985 Gary Pihl. This was the album that featured one of Boston’s greatest hits, “Amanda.” It topped the US Billboard Hot 100, the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, and the Canadian Singles Chart. Overseas, it was at least a top forty hit among the nations of Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, and Switzerland. In Canada, it sold over fifty thousand copies, enough to become certified gold. Another hit from the album was “We’re Ready,” which peaked at number nine on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number twenty-five in Canada.

Overall, Boston recorded and released six albums over the span of four decades. After Third Stage, it was 1994’s Walk On and 2002’s Corporate America. These were the final album recordings featuring Brad Delp as Boston’s lead singer. He passed away in 2007 and was later replaced in 2013 by Tommy DeCarlo. In addition, the extraordinary female vocalist Beth Cohen has also joined the band. It would be his singing voice for the 2013 recording and release of Live Love & Hope. Since then, the current lineup of Boston continues to perform in concert as it carries on a legacy that was started by Delp and Scholz.

#1 – Aerosmith

Probably one of the most iconic rock bands in history is Aerosmith. The original 1970 lineup featured Steven Tyler as lead vocalist, Joe Perry as guitarist, Tom Hamilton on bass, and Joey Kramer on drums. Each member came from his own respective band before uniting in Boston that would later include guitarist Brad Whitford into the fold. The brand of hard rock Aerosmith became famous for was bluesy-based as it fused with the elements of metal, pop, and R&B.

The influence of Aerosmith inspired scores of recording artists to follow in its footsteps. As a songwriting team, Perry and Tyler were often referenced as the “Toxic Twins.” As for the band’s name, this came from Joey Kramer’s “Aerosmith” which was written on his school notebooks. It was a name that came to him after listening to Aerial Ballet, a 1968 album produced by Harry Nilsson. At first, it wasn’t a name his bandmates agreed with as they assumed it was “Arrowsmith,” which was based on a novel that was required reading in high school at the time. When Kramer explained his reasoning, then everyone was on board.

In 1973, Aerosmith debuted with its first album, which was named after the band. At the time, the lineup had Ray Tabano as one of its guitarists before he was replaced by Whitford. This met with great success, as did 1974’s Get Your Wings. However, it wasn’t until 1975’s Toys in the Attic had Aerosmith achieved its mainstream success. This was followed by 1976’s Rocks, then 1977’s Draw the Line, and 1979’s Night in the Ruts.

Clean through the second half of the 1970s, Aerosmith was one of the most popular rock bands who also developed a cult following around the world known as the “Blue Army.” However, due to internal conflict and substance abuse issues, Perry and Whitford were both out of the lineup by 1981. 1982’s Rock in a Hard Place served as a dose of reality that not every album coming from Aerosmith was going to be a successful one.

In 1984, Perry and Whitford cleaned themselves up enough to join Aerosmith on a comeback tour and the 1985 release of Done with Mirrors. While the tour was successful, the album was not. It wouldn’t be until a 1986 collaboration with Run-D.M.C. that Aerosmith achieved another hit on the music charts. That came with its previously recorded single, “Walk This Way.”

When this song was released the first time it was in 1976 from the album, Toys in the Attic. It became a number ten hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and it was a number seven hit in Canada. It also became certified platinum in Denmark and twice over with the RIAA. The 1987 version with the rap group received even more attention as it was at least a top ten hit among a multitude of nations, peaking as high as number one in New Zealand. On the US Billboard Hot 100, this version of the rock classic peaked as high as number four. This paved the way for Aerosmith’s 1987 album, Permanent Vacation, to become a multi-platinum seller. It also marked the group’s big comeback that would lead to additional multi-platinum albums with 1989’s Pump, 1993’s Get a Grip, and 1997’s Nine Lives.

Some of Aerosmith’s most iconic hits came from these albums. “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” “Angel,” “Rag Doll,” “Love in an Elevator,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “What it Takes,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” “Cryin’,” and “Crazy” each had Aerosmith dominate the music charts as they won over a new wave of fans to add to its “Blue Army.” Scores of movies, television, and video games couldn’t help but be attracted to Steven Tyler’s performance as lead vocalist, as well as an impressive roster of musicians who inspired so many guitarists, drummers, and keyboardists to follow their trail as musicians.

As incredible as Aerosmith was when it came to pumping out hits, the best was yet to come. 1998 produced Armageddon, the box office smash that would feature “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” This became the group’s first number-one hit as one of the most impressive in rock history. This was followed by 2001’s Just Push Play, Aerosmith’s thirteenth studio album. This one released “Jaded” as its big hit as it peaked as high as number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100. Its title track also received significant airplay and also became a fan favorite. This was followed by 2004’s Honkin’ on Bobo, which was an album that featured blues covers. After this, there was the 2008 release of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, a video game that became the best-selling band-centric video game in history.

2012 saw the release of Music from Another Dimension!, an album that didn’t quite measure up to commercial expectations as all of its predecessors before it. This became the group’s final studio recording but it wasn’t the end of Aerosmith as one of the most legendary rock groups who continued to wow the audience all over the world. With over one hundred and fifty million records sold worldwide that have achieved a multitude of platinum and gold certifications, Aerosmith has been labeled as the best-selling American hard rock band of all time. Among the singles the group released, twenty-one of them became top forty hits on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Aerosmith received a flurry of music industry awards. As popular as Aerosmith was during the 1970s, it wasn’t until 1987 that the group started a winning streak with awards shows, first with the Soul Train Music Awards for Best Rap Single due to the group’s collaboration with Run-D.M.C. After this, it was a series of Grammy Award wins, starting in 1990 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Janie’s Got a Gun.” The band would win this three times more, namely for 1993’s “Livin’ on the Edge,” 1994’s “Crazy,” and 1997’s “Pink.”

Aerosmith also won a flurry of awards between the American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Boston Music Awards, and People’s Choice Awards. In 2001, Aerosmith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while in 2013, Joe Perry and Steven Tyler were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. There are very few hard rock bands in the history of the music industry that had the kind of impact Aerosmith had on so many fans around the world. It’s an impact that continues today as part of a legacy that has made Aerosmith become one of the most celebrated recording artists of all time.

Top 10 Bands And Artists From Boston article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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