Sonically, an American version of pop-rock contemporaries Queen and Electric Light Orchestra, Boston hits you with an intensely studio crafted wall of Tom Scholz‘s guitars and a one man choir- voiced by Brad Delp.
Brad’s impossible, soaring vocals with Tom’s precise, reeling guitar work and proudly synthesiser/computer-free production and chorusing style gave Boston a unique, solid sound which sold over 17 million copies of the instant-classic 1976 debut album.
However, Tom’s production style was so complex that it took several years to produce a single album, far too long for the tastes of fans- and for CBS/Epic records, which was expecting a Boston album every few months. CBS eventually sued Scholz for breach of contract, though Scholz finally prevailed.
The eponymous Boston and Don’t Look Back still make my hair stand on end, 31 years later. Only 2 weeks ago, I picked up the newly remastered issues of Boston and DLB, which still were on my desk as I heard of Delp being found dead in his New Hampshire home on Friday (US time).
Delp was only 55, a vegetarian for over 30 years, as is Scholz. The cause of death has not yet been reported, but police say that ‘foul play is not suspected.’ Delp was engaged to be married to longtime girlfriend Pamela Sullivan in the upcoming US summer in between dates scheduled for a 2007 Boston tour, which now could be in doubt.
Delp was renowned for making time to meet fans after rare Boston live shows, only made possible some years after the release of the initial two Boston albums, as portable effects necessary to reproduce the Boston studio sound didn’t exist- until MIT educated electronics engineer Scholz designed and built them. Brad loved his work, shook every hand, thanked every fan and signed every autograph- very much unlike many of his self-absorbed, foofy contemporaries. There’s no doubt whatsoever that Bradley E. Delp really was ‘the nicest guy in rock ‘n’ roll.’
I worked in FM album rock radio for a spell in America in the early 1980s. I usually met every artist the radio stations sponsored for local concerts- and usually regretted it. Unfortunately, as Boston didn’t exactly tour broadly in that time, Delp is one muso I never met.
MORE: Pamela Sullivan and Delp’s family are requesting memorial donations to the American Heart Association (20 Speen St., Framingham, Massachusetts 01710). While the official cause of death has not yet been released, one could reason Brad died of a heart attack. Delp recently also had a minor motorcycle accident; some possibility exists that an undetected injury or a blood clot may be implicated.
EVEN MORE: Delp’s death was a suicide, not a traditional heart problem. True to form, Delp was possibly the most considerate person on earth, even while killing himself. Delp put up notes all over the house warning of carbon monoxide from the charcoal grills he had set up in his bathroom. He had secured his cat, ‘Floppy,’ safely in another room, away from the deadly gases. So long Brad- if you’re gonna go, may as well be painless and at the time of your choosing. But fuck you anyway.
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