TRU ROCK REVIVAL
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BRAD DELP REVISITED
It's now been a little over 13 years since Brad took his own life. There's never a time when I hear one of those great Boston song's on the radio that I don't miss Brad's iconic voice. I was fortunate to have met and interviewed Brad in 1995.
In 1969, guitarist Barry Goudreau introduced Delp to Tom Scholz, who was looking for a singer to complete some demo recordings. Eventually, Scholz formed the short-lived band Mother's Milk (1973–74), including Delp and Goudreau. After producing a demo, Epic Records eventually signed the act. Mother's Milk was renamed Boston, and the self-titled debut album (recorded in 1975, although many tracks had been written years before) was released in August 1976. Delp performed all of the lead and all backing harmony vocals, including all layered vocal overdubs.
Boston's debut album has sold more than 20 million copies, and produced rock standards such as "More Than a Feeling", "Foreplay/Long Time" and "Peace of Mind". Delp co-wrote "Smokin'" along with Scholz, and wrote the album's closing track, "Let Me Take You Home Tonight".
Their next album, Don't Look Back, was released two years later in August 1978. Its release spawned new hits such as the title track, "Don't Look Back", "Party", and the ballad, "A Man I'll Never Be". As they did with "Smokin", Delp and Scholz collaborated on "Party", and Delp penned "Used to Bad News".
After the first two Boston albums, Delp sang vocals on Barry Goudreau's self-titled solo album, released in 1980. Scholz's perfectionism and a legal battle with their record company stalled any further Boston albums until 1986 when the band released Third Stage. Delp co-wrote the songs "Cool the Engines" and "Can'tcha Say (You Believe in Me)/Still in Love" for the album, and both songs got significant airplay.
Though well known for his "golden" voice with soaring vocals and range and singing all harmony parts on every song, Delp was also a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, harmonica and keyboards. He wrote or co-wrote songs for Boston, RTZ, Orion the Hunter, Lisa Guyer, and other artists.
In 1991, Delp and Goudreau formed a band called RTZ. After Boston released the album Walk On in 1994 with Fran Cosmo on vocals, Delp and Boston reunited later that year for another major tour and Delp continued to record vocals on several albums and projects, including new tracks for Boston's 1997 Greatest Hits compilation and their 2002 release Corporate America.
From the mid-1990s until his death in 2007, Delp played in a side project when he had time off from Boston – a Beatles tribute band called Beatlejuice. During this time, Delp also co-wrote and recorded with former Boston bandmate Barry Goudreau and in 2003 released the CD Delp and Goudreau.
By Kreig Marks, February 2018
June 1995. It was a typical busy day, (staff to train, meetings to attend), which made a late afternoon, 3 1/2 hour car drive to Orlando, Florida a nice break from the daily monotony of running a business. The new business at hand; Boston was appearing at the Orlando Arena for their Walk On tour. I'd seen them in concert many times before but each time was a treat; great musicianship and the incomparable vocal skills of Brad Delp.
Since my childhood, Boston had been my favorite rock band. I knew every song forwards and backwards from their first three albums. Although I had seen them in concert five times before, this time I had a feeling it would be different.
I had purchased two tickets for the show. My friend, Adam, although eight years younger than me, was a huge Boston fan too. So, I bought a ticket for him to join me at the show and we hit the road.
During the drive up, we discussed which song they would open with. I said, "It’s gotta be 'Rock and Roll Band',” Adam said, “Long Time,” since it had been about eight years between albums. Boston’s founder and lead guitarist extraordinaire, Tom Scholz, was notorious for taking a long time to produce albums. We set a wager. I win, Adam buys dinner. He wins, I buy dinner and all of his memorabilia. Hand shake. Done.
To set the mood during our drive up from Miami, we listened to all three Boston CD’s, arguing which song was best. Adam made a good case for “Peace of Mind.” “Musically, Tom was at his best in that song. He played both rhythm and lead guitar and that riff at the beginning of the song is timeless.” I couldn’t disagree, but I felt that Tom Scholz’s guitar lead in “A Man I’ll Never Be” was just incredible. If you listen to it today, it's really stood the test of time and is one of those very underrated songs.
Adam and I arrived at the Orlando Arena about four hours before the show and decided to grab a late lunch, still arguing about which song they would open the show with. Only in my 20’s, I felt like a teenager again, being a little irresponsible, feeling a bit guilty, having left my wife at home with our three-year old daughter and infant son.
After grabbing some food, we drove back to the arena and parked. We were still about 3 ½ hours early so we parked the car and walked around the back of the arena to check out the tour buses. Expecting to be stopped by security, surprisingly, there was none. Off in the distance, we saw three or four tour buses and several eighteen wheeler trucks that probably transported the band’s elaborate stage and incredible light show equipment.
“Let’s try to get a little closer,”I said, as we continued to walk around the back of the arena. We saw several guys moving heavy equipment through the huge roll up doors. “Roadies,” I commented. My dream job if - I were independently wealthy and had no wife or kids. We stood there for a few minutes watching the roadies and slowly, a black Lincoln Towne Car pulled up. The car sat parked there for a while with the engine running. After about ten minutes, the back right door opened and out walked Brad Delp, the lead singer, “THE VOICE” of Boston. “No way, that can’t be him.” Sure enough, it was Brad. Wearing loose jeans and a white button down shirt, he started to walk up a ramp toward the back entrance and stopped, felt for his pocket, turned and walked back to the car. He opened the back door, reached in, put something in his pocket and closed the door. Once again, he walked toward the arena. Adam and I stood there watching him. To me, this was like being in the same room with the Queen of England; royalty. But, in this case, there was no comparison. Brad was “Rock and Roll Royalty.”
As he continued to make his way toward the arena he stopped and looked in our direction.
Brad: “What’s doing, fellas?”
I looked over at Adam. Was Brad Delp talking to us?
Brad: “Hey fellas, you know the show doesn’t start for about three more hours.” He started to walk toward us. Once right in front of us he stopped, put his black carrying case down and said, “I’m Brad, I guess you’re here for the show?” He then put out his hand and I shook it, then Adam.
Me and Adam: “Yep, we drove up from Miami. I’m Kreig and this is my friend, Adam.”
Brad: “Nice to meet you guys. Wow, that’s a bit of a drive. You guys do know that we’ll be in Miami on Sunday, right?”
Kreig: I laughed nervously. “Yeah, I know. We’ll be seeing the show there, too.”
Kreig: “Yeah, and in Tampa, tomorrow.”
Brad: “Man, you guys are hardcore.”
Kreig: I laughed. “Yeah, that’s what my wife said.”
Brad: “Where’s the wife?”
Kreig: “She’s home with our three-year old daughter and baby son. Adam works for my company and he’s a huge fan. I surprised him and bought him a ticket for the shows, too.” Adam stood there frozen.
Brad: “You left your wife home alone for three days with a three-year old and a baby?”
Kreig: (I should have been embarrassed being called out by Brad Delp but he was so easy to talk to, that, oddly, I wasn't.) “Her mom is helping her out.”
Brad: “Well, thank God for her mom. Three-year-olds are tough enough, but a baby too? What kind of company do you run?”
Kreig: “Healthcare, a physical therapy company.”
Brad: “Awesome. How’s it doing?”
Craig: “So far, so good.”
Brad: “Excellent.” “How old are you, Adam?”
Brad: “Twenty-two. Wow. Just a kid.... Let’s see, our first album came out around ’76.... You were probably still in diapers, maybe not even born yet. But, I’m glad to meet you. How about you Kreig? How old are you?”
Kreig: “I’ll be twenty-eight later this year.”
Brad: “Cool, so you were, what, about eleven, in ’76?”
Kreig: “Yeah, but twelve the first time I saw you guys.”
Kreig: “Yeah, that was in 1978.”
Brad: “Your parents let you go see us when you were twelve?”
Kreig: “I went with three friends. My parents are huge music fans. My dad isn’t into rock, but loves music in general. Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennet, you name it. My mom likes rock. She loved Three Dog, The Stones, and The Beatles."
Brad: (Smiling widely) “I LOVE the Beatles. I like your mom already! I actually started a Beatles tribute band last year, Beatle Juice. It's just a side thing I do with some friends for fun. I love it."
Kreig: "Very cool, I'm going to have to check that out!"
Brad: “So, Craig, how did you convince your parents to let you go see us in ‘78?”
Kreig: “My dad wasn’t thrilled I wanted to go to a rock concert, but he was glad I enjoyed music, so he let me go.”
Brad: “Where did you see us?”
Kreig: “At the old Miami Stadium.”
Brad: “No way! I remember that show.”
Kreig: “Really?" "See if you remember what I remember."
Brad: “Let's see. That stadium was old and it was used for baseball Spring Training. That was one of our first stops on the “Don’t Look Back” tour, our first big tour. I was about twenty-seven then, maybe twenty-eight. I remember the stage was set up in center field. Poco and The Doobie Brothers opened for us.”
Kreig: "Wow, great memory. How do you remember that? You’ve been in a lot of stadiums.”
Brad: Brad laughed. “Here’s how. It was one of our first big tours. You remember those things. Poco was the first band to go on. From the minute they went on, people on the field started throwing bottles at them yelling “we want Boston". It was crazy. We were all off stage looking at this thinking there’s gonna be a riot. One of the bottles hit a guy from Poco and they got pissed and left the stage. Can’t say I blame them. Scary stuff."
Kreig: “Yep, that’s what happened.”
Brad: “The Doobies went on next. They were great. I still love those guys. Then we took the stage and let me tell you, the crowd was great to us. I remember there was a dense fog on the field from all the weed and we were all getting second hand smoke from it and feeling a bit light headed. It was nuts!”
Kreig: “I still have the concert shirt I bought from that show.”
Brad: “That's an old shirt.” He laughed, “I’m sure it doesn’t fit you anymore.”
Kreig: "I wore it a few times and then I wanted to put it away. I’m going to give it to my son Jake one day when he’s older.”
Brad: “That’s so cool.”
Kreig: “What’s it like when you get on stage and look out and there’s twenty-thousand people looking at you, singing along? I’ve played guitar for many years and in college, played in a couple bands when I had time. We did some frat parties, sometimes two, three hundred kids were there. It was a blast. But, I can’t imagine being on stage in front of twenty-thousand people.”
Brad: “When we first started out, we did small gigs. We were lucky to get twenty people to show up at some. I’ve always been pretty comfortable on stage, although, I’m a little shy by nature off stage. I remember the first time we did a show and there were about a thousand people there. It was a rush. I wasn’t nervous. I rarely get nervous once I’m on stage. I get a bit anxious right before going on but once we get into the first couple verses of the first song, I’m in another place. It’s hard to understand and harder to explain. It’s like an out of body experience. It’s such a high and seeing the audience smile and sing along, there's nothing like it.”
Kreig: “What’s your favorite Boston song to sing?”
Brad: “All of them. Tom and I put so much time and energy into the songs, especially Tom. The songs are our babies. You have your two kids. The songs are like my kids. You don’t have a favorite, you love them equally, I hope. (laughing) Some days, you know, you may like singing one song more than another. Like some days, one or both of your kids may act up and you get angry or frustrated with them. It’s like that with the songs. Some nights, everything just falls into place and every song sounds fantastic. Other nights, you may miss a word or two or your voice may crack. But, at the end of the night, you forgive yourself and still love the songs. Like with your kids. At the end of the day, no matter how much they may misbehave, they’re your kids and you love them. Remember that Adam, when you have kids one day.”
Adam: “No kids for me.”
Brad: “Never say never. Kids are great. I have two kids, a boy and a girl. They keep you grounded.”
Kreig: “Brad, I feel like this is an interview.” (we both laughed)
Brad: “Ask away, I’ve got a few more minutes. Bring on the interview.”
Kreig: “Ok. You said you love the Beatles. As a fan, what’s your favorite Beatles song?”
Brad: “Man, there’s so many. Those four guys, especially Paul and John, were geniuses, so ahead of their time, ahead of everyone else musically. I love Long and Winding Road, Blackbird, Yesterday. I love them all. Kreig, you play guitar?”
Kreig: “Yeah, I do. Not very often these days. I'll play whenever I can but it’s difficult with the kids now and with my late hours. But, I still try to.”
Brad: “Man, keep the music alive, in you, and share it with your kids like your parents did with you. What do you like to play on your guitar?”
Kreig: “Boston songs, Frampton, Beatles, Foreigner. The first song I really learned was "More Than a Feeling" and then "Do You Feel Like We Do" by Frampton.”
Brad: “Great songs. Frampton is great. Great guitarist, great songwriter, great guy.”
Brad: "What type of physical therapy do you do? Sports medicine?”
Kreig: “Yeah, sports med, orthopedics, but more recently, I’m starting to work with people who have Parknson’s. My dad was diagnosed not too long ago, so I’m trying to learn a lot about the disease.”
Brad: “Man, I’m sorry to hear that. I’m sure you’ll be able to help him.”
Kreig: “I’m trying. It’s rough.”
Brad: “You guys are important. You heal people, keep people moving."
Kreig: "What's going on with RTZ? Are you guys planning to put out another album? That album was very underrated. Some very good stuff is on there."
Brad: "You know, we've talked about that, Barry and I. There's so much I enjoy doing and so many things I'd like to do. So, we'll have to see." (Brad looked at his watch) Well guys, I’ve gotta get inside. It’s been awesome meeting and talking to both of you.”
Kreig: “This has been really cool. I wish I had something for you to sign."
I reached into my pocket to see if I had anything for Brad to sign. Nothing. The only thing I had was my keychain which had a plastic holder with a photo of my daughter Lindsay inside it. I tried opening it but it wouldn’t budge. Brad stood watching me as I struggled with it.
Brad: “Don’t break it, you’ll tear your daughters head off!” He laughed. (He took out his key chain and had a small pen knife on it. He took the plastic holder and gently opened it up, removing the picture.)
Brad: “How do you spell your daughter's name?”
Kreig: “Lindsay.” (I spelled it out)
Brad took out a pen and signed the photo; “To Lindsay, Best Wishes, Brad Delp, Boston, 95.” To this day, it is one of my most cherished mementos. I plan to give it to Lindsay one day but right now, I am still hanging onto it..
Brad started to walk away and stopped and turned around. “Hey guys, how would you like to come in and sit in for our soundcheck?”
Brad: “Let’s go, you guys are my guests.”
We followed Brad inside and were escorted to the front row of the arena. No one else was there.
Brad: “Fellas, just grab a seat.” He handed both of us some ear plugs. “You’ll need these, trust me.”
A few minutes later Brad and the rest of the band stepped on stage. I can’t begin to describe how it felt sitting there. For the next 45 minutes, Adam and I witnessed our very own private Boston concert. I was thrilled, knowing it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Brad was a true gentleman and very humble. I miss him and his music. The first song of the soundcheck was “Rock and Roll Band.” I won. After the show, Adam bought us dinner. I don't know what came over me that night, but I remember thinking about how I didn't want to forget the day, so I wrote all of the conversation down, and have kept it since.
Kreig Marks, Publisher
Tru Rock Revival Magazine
* On March 9, 2007, I was driving home from a meeting in Hallandale Beach, Florida. I received a telephone call from a friend. She asked if I had heard the news about Brad Delp. "What news?" I asked. "Kreig, I am so sorry," she said. He died today." In shock, I asked what happened. She didn't know. I had to pull the car over to take this all in. It was as if I had lost a close friend or family member. I sat there in my car on the side of the highway for a long time remembering when I met him, his smile, his gentle demeanor. Days later I learned about how he had committed suicide. I am blessed with having met Brad all of those years ago, and that I even had the chance to speak with him, if only for a short while. He was one of the nicest guys in rock and roll, one of the greats and a gentle soul. He is missed tremendously. Rest in peace Brad.