This song tells the story of a Boston rock band paying their dues: busking, sleeping in cars, playing the bar circuit. Eventually, they get a big break when a record company guy sees them perform and makes them a deal.
Many assumed it was the story of the band because the lyrics are in the first person and they sing about being from Boston, which they are, but that's not the case. Group leader Tom Scholz wrote the song based on conversations he had with Jim Masdea, a drummer who often collaborated with Scholz and had lots of war stories from playing in various bands. Masdea was always telling Scholz about struggling bands trying to get signed to record contracts.
Boston had quite the opposite experience of the group they sing about here. Rather than paying their dues on the road, Boston released a well-produced album that was an instant hit. In fact, they weren't even a band until Tom Scholz landed a record deal based on demos he made in his home studio. They played a few gigs before the album was released but didn't tour until after it came out. Just a few months later, their songs were all over the radio and they were headlining arenas.
None of the band members lucked into this though. They were all veterans of the Boston music scene and had proven their mettle. Scholz took care of the studio work, but they had to win over fans on the road, which they did.
Jim Masdea, who inspired the lyric, played drums on the demos Tom Scholz made in his home studio that led to a deal with Epic Records. Other than singer Brad Delp, Masdea was the only other musician Scholz used on these recordings.
When Scholz got signed and it came to assemble an actual band, Delp stayed on but Masdea was replaced with Sib Hashian, a decision seemingly made by Scholz' management. Scholz did make sure Masdea played drums on "Rock And Roll Band" to earn a credit on the album.
This wasn't released as a single, but that hardly mattered because Album Oriented Rock (AOR) stations played it anyway, along with the other eight tracks on Boston's debut album. These well-crafted, uptempo tracks kept listeners tuned in, so they became staples of many playlists.