By Joe Dwinell
When Fran Sheehan joined the rock band Boston in the 1970s, lead singer Brad Delp took him aside and confided that he feared what band founder Tom Scholz would do to the band members. "I have a feeling," Brad warned the young bass player, "that he's going to destroy us all and take us all down in the end."
According to testimony, which was summarized by Herald lawyers in court papers in the litigation filed by Tom Scholz against the Herald, what followed were several years in which Scholz "berated" and "belittled" the four other original band members almost nightly. According to the filings, Scholz screamed at Delp for not being able to hit the high notes and yelled at him on one occasion in front of the others: "If you ever, ever hit another high note like that, I will take that microphone from you and I will throw it in the crowd. They sing better than you do."
By 2006, Sheehan and two other original members, Barry Goudreau and Sib Hashian, had been gone from the band for 20 years, and the only original members left were Scholz and Delp. Brad told his closest friends that he wanted badly to quit the band, but was afraid if he did, Scholz would "make life miserable for him."
At a Christmas party at Goudreau's house in December, 2006, less than three months before Delp took his life, Sheehan asked Brad a question: If Boston ever was nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, would Brad go to Scholz and ask him if the original band members, with whom Scholz had been engaged in bitter feuds, could take part in the induction ceremony?
Delp said, "I can't," Sheehan recalled in his pretrial testimony in the defamation lawsuit brought by Scholz against the Herald, according to court documents. "I said, Brad, why not? He said, Fran, I've come to the conclusion that I'm a wimp. I can't stand up to him anymore."
Sheehan was one of about 20 of Delp's old friends and former bandmates who testified regarding what Brad told them about his fear of and inability to confront Scholz and about their personal opinions of what drove the depressed and anxiety-prone Delp to decide in March 2007 that he no longer wanted to live, according to papers recently filed in Suffolk Superior Court.
According to former Boston member David Sikes, Delp "didn't like Tom. He didn't trust Tom. He felt that Tom had taken advantage of him financially, especially." In Delp's last conversation with Sikes not long before Delp's suicide, Delp told Sikes "how much he envied me, that I had the guts to stand up to Tom Scholz and the guts to quit the band and to move on with my life, to leave Boston."
Also shortly before Delp took his life, he told his lifelong friend Steve Frary that Scholz "was driving him crazy," and used an expletive to describe Scholz, the only time that Frary heard Delp swear in the 35 years he had known him.
On March 16, 2007, one week after Delp's suicide, Goudreau wrote to Scholz directly, telling him: "Tom, I don't even know where to begin. I can't explain the pain and suffering you have caused me and my family, Brad and his family ... Tom, you abused Brad ... We could not keep it under wraps forever."
Court documents reflect that Delp's friends were asked their opinion of what had caused Delp to take his life, based on their knowledge of him and his conversations with them. Bill Faulkner, whom Delp had asked to preside over his upcoming wedding, testified that in his view "the root cause of his death was uncontrolled depression, but the contributing factor would certainly include in a big way Tom Scholz."
Delp's old friend Joy Baker testified that in her opinion, "Brad just could not stand one more minute of feeling like he could not stand up for himself or do the right thing, if you will, in any aspect of his life, because he was so afraid of — you know, he would run from confrontation and I think he was just beaten down by the years of dealing with Tom Scholz."
Scholz has sued the Herald, claiming that in its 2007 articles about Delp's suicide the Herald blamed Scholz for Delp's death. The Herald denies that it has blamed Scholz for Delp's decision to take his life.
In the case, Scholz has argued that an extremely upsetting and embarrassing incident that occurred between Delp and a close friend on Feb. 28, 2007, was what drove Delp to take his life. However, the summary of testimony filed in court indicates that in late January 2007, six weeks before the incident, Delp visited his doctor and told the doctor that he was suffering increased anxiety because of Boston and Scholz, and was thinking of quitting the band.
The summary also indicates that on Feb. 27, 2007, the day before the incident, Delp had already made two separate trips to purchase items that he apparently used 10 days later in connection with his decision to take his life. According to police reports, Delp used duct tape to seal the bathroom where he asphyxiated himself with charcoal grills. Police also found a carbon monoxide monitor nearby which could track the levels of carbon monoxide and which required Energizer or Duracell 9 volt batteries.
Court records indicate that on Feb. 27, Delp purchased duct tape and a package of Duracell 9 volt batteries at about 2 p.m.. Then, at about 9:40 p.m. Feb. 27, according to court records, Delp went out and purchased a package of Energizer 9 volt batteries.
Scholz asserts that he "had a very strong personal connection" with Delp and was his friend for more than 30 years. In his litigation against the Herald, Scholz has claimed that the newspaper falsely asserted that Delp committed suicide "because of turmoil and extreme stress from his professional life caused by Scholz."
Scholz has until June 30 to respond to the summary of testimony compiled by the Herald's lawyers and submit his own evidence to the court.
By Joe Dwinell