Saturday, March 10, 2007

MORobit: Brad Delp

The lead singer of Boston, Brad Delp, has been found dead at New Hampshire home.

The Beatles were the galvanising force in Brad's life - he bought his first guitar after seeing the band on the Ed Sullivan Show; for the last thirteen years he'd been playing in a moptop tribute act called Beatlejuice

Delp joined the band after a period making the heating coils for Mr Coffee machines by day, and singing in Boston club bands by night. Winning the lead vocal role in an audition, Delp proved the crucial element in securing the band a record deal - previous attempts by Tom Scholz to gain interest in his band's demo tapes had come to nothing. Epic offered a deal, and although Scholz went along with a lot of the executive's demands - dumping original drummer Jim Masdea in favour of Sib Hashian; hiring bassist Fran Sheehan - he pulled the wool over their eyes where it mattered most to him. Ignoring their insistence that the debut be made in a proper studio, MIT grad-geek Scholz recorded almost all of 1976's Boston in his home studio.

Delp remained on board for 1978's Don't Look Back and - when founder member Barry Goudreau jumped ship to make a solo album - helped out there, too. Scholz was less than thrilled by CBS choosing to market the resulting album as "almost Boston". The bitterness and bad feeling dragged the band to the edge - Scholz claiming the label was trying to cut him out in a bid to up the band's workrate; CBS/Epic launching a lawsuit for breach of contract - but somehow Delp managed to remain onboard; keeping himself going by working on Keith Emerson's soundtrack for Best Revenge.

MCA bought the Boston contract and the third album, Third Stage, finally got an eventual official release in 1986. Some twenty years before it became a concept, Scholz took the decision to tour the record by playing it, track for track, in the order they appeared on vinyl; ahead of its time, the audience wasn't satisfied with an explanation that the songs formed a story that had to be told in a specific way. They just wanted the big numbers.

After the tour, Delp started to concentrate more on Goudreau's new band, RTZ (Return to Zero). Brad formally withdrew from Boston in 1991 when his tour commitments to RTZ would have made it hard for him to work with Scholz. The record company somehow forgot to mention during the promotional work that Delp wasn't on Walk On - fans only discovered that his voice (for most, the defintion of the band) was missing by peering at the credits on the inner sleeve after hearing the vocals of Fran Cosmo coming from their speakers.

Luckily for the band, Delp quit RTZ when their label, Giant let them down - rather than going through the hoops of signing for a new paymaster, Delp chose to stand down. This meant he was free to join the tour for Walk On, although space was also found for Cosmo. The dual-voice Boston that emerged would remain in place for 2002's Corporate America album.

The bivocaled band continued to tour - successfully - until last year when Fran Cosmo quit. Delp, once again, became the voice of Boston, working on a new album and planning for a tour later this year; appearing in Beatlejuice in between.

Police were called to Delp's home early yesterday afternoon by his fiancée Pamela Sullivan; he was dead when they arrived. Although the cops are describing the death as "untimely", their press statement rules out foul play:

On March 9, 2007 the Atkinson Police Department was requested to respond to Mr. Delp's residence for an untimely death.

Mr. Delp was apparently left alone in his home at his time of passing.

The cause of death is still under investigation at this time. There is no indication of foul play involved with the passing of Mr. Delp.

This case is still under investigation by the Atkinston Police Department and the New Hampshire Medical Examiners Office.

Delp had two children from a previous marriage; he was 55. Tributes in the first 24 hours after his death focused as much on the charitable works he performed in his community as on his musical career.


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