Boston: The Cradle of Liberty...and some of the world’s best rock.

Some of the world’s most famous bands first plugged in their amps in Boston, Massachusetts. We can’t say whether it was the city’s myriad music schools, the thriving bar scene, or that folks here just knew a good thing when they heard it at 100 decibels, but some of the most influential rock, punk, New Wave, and hardcore bands got their start here during the 70s and 80s – the Golden Age of Boston Rock. Here are just a few of the bands that Bostonians likely heard first, when WBCN was still on the air and the Rathskeller was the dirtiest, greatest dive for discovering future mega acts. 


Aerosmith is no doubt one of the most famous bands to blast out of Boston, and still the best-selling American rock band of all time. Their fierce blend of hard rock and blues has netted them countless fans and 150 million record sales worldwide. But before Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, and Joey Kramer were rocking the world’s biggest stadiums with "Dream On," "Back in the Saddle," and "Sweet Emotion," they played their first gig in the Nipmuc Regional High School gym in Mendon on November 6, 1970, with just a few practices under their belt.

Fan tip: Book your hotel now for Aerosmith’s final tour when they return to Boston for a New Year’s Eve concert at TD Garden. Newbury Guest House is just 20 minutes away on the T so you can focus on rocking, not parking. Or walk that way…it’ll take you just over 30 minutes from our front door.

The Cars

The Cars also emerged from the Boston music scene in the late 1970s with a new sound: a blend of New Wave, power pop, and rock that made them one of the most influential bands of the era and paved the way for many bands to come with songs like "My Best Friend's Girl," and "Drive." Before their hit “Just What I Needed” took over two local radio stations and got the attention of record labels, Ocasek and Co. did warm up gigs at a motel lounge outside of Boston and then cut their teeth at The Rathskeller (i.e., “The Rat”), a local live music venue open from 1974 to 1997. 

Fan tip: Sadly, The Rat is no longer with us but if you’re in town and want to pay homage to the dive that early on hosted not only the Cars and Aerosmith but acts from the Pixies, Metallica, Dead Kennedys, the Ramones, Talking Heads, and R.E.M. to The Replacements, The Police, The Dropkick Murphys and Soundgarden, why not lay a guitar pick at its former site at 528 Commonwealth Avenue, just a 15-minute walk from Newbury Guest House. 


Of course. As their name suggests, Boston originated here in the mid-1970s and distinguished themselves from their peers with an irresistible ear-candy blend of hard and progressive rock and pop. Boston was founded by guitarist/keyboardist Tom Scholz and Brad Delp (vocals), who achieved massive success with their self-titled debut album in 1976 and hits like "More Than a Feeling," "Peace of Mind," and "Amanda." We’re guessing that when Scholz first started writing music in 1969 as a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology he never dreamed Boston would be the first band in history to make their New York City debut at Madison Square Garden.


Formed in 1986, the pioneering alt-rock band practically defined the genre with their oddly addictive punk/surf/indie-rock brew. Pixies founders Charles Michael Kitteridge IV (better known as Black Francis) and Joey Santiago met when they lived next to each other while attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Francis and Santiago spent 1984 working in Boston-area warehouses, with Francis composing songs on his acoustic guitar and writing lyrics on the T. Chances are some of the first people to hear now-famous songs such as "Where Is My Mind?," "Debaser," and "Here Comes Your Man" first heard them at early Pixies gigs in Boston rock clubs including The Rat, T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge and Green St. Station in Jamaica Plain.

Fan tip: If you’re coming to town for the Pixies’ June 8 concert at the MGM Music Hall at Fenway, book a room at Newbury Guest House now and you’ll be just a 15-minute walk from the rock.

The Dropkick Murphys

The band formed in Boston in 1996 and developed an almost spiritual connection with music fans here, not just for their traditional Irish folk/punk rock sound and songs like "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," "The State of Massachusetts," and "Rose Tattoo," but for their rollicking live shows and championing of “regular, blue-collar working stiffs.” The band first started practicing in the basement of a friend's Wollaston barbershop, and played their first show when a co-worker of bassist Ken Casey dared him to open his band – for the staggering sum of $20. The band gets its name from Massachusetts-born professional wrestler and sanatorium owner John E. “Dropkick” Murphy, who ran the Bellows Farms Sanatorium (an early detox center) in Acton. The band’s St. Patrick’s Day show became a Boston tradition after their first one at the Avalon Ballroom, and The Dropkick Murphys played the club’s last-ever show before it closed in 2007.

Fan tip: While the Avalon and Axis clubs are closed, you can still rock at their original site, now Citizens House of Blues – just a 15-minute walk from Newbury Guest House.

The city responsible for producing some of the most iconic bands in music history is loud, proud, and still offers a great live music scene with many performance venues in our Back Bay neighborhood alone. Whether you’re in town to soak up rock nostalgia or take in an upcoming concert, book your stay at Newbury Guest House now. Air guitars welcome.