Brad Delp's Last Verse
Sunday, June 12, 2011

From Rock Hard Magazine
Article by A.J. Wachtel

Special Thanks to: Micki Delp, Jenna Delp, Barry Goudreau, Fran Sheehan, Fran Cosmo, Tim Archibald, Brian Maes, Dave Stefanelli and Muzz

There are a few things we know for certain about Brad Delp: he was "the nicest guy in rock and roll," he loved and cherished his family and friends, he had the voice of an angel, and he left the scene much too early. Now as his 60th birthday approaches, his daughter Jenna has searched out rare unheard tracks of her father's musical life from his own collection and will soon release the material. It's like winning the lottery and then doing something earth shattering: finding unknown and incredible resources and then sharing them with the world. Read on as I ask the people closest to Brad Delp to share their memories of his rare and incredible talent and to shed more light on what made him special.

Jenna Delp: Some of my dad's closest friends and colleagues, and the Brad Delp Foundation, have been working on cleaning up some of his unreleased solo material and collaborations with close friends, with hopes of putting it out there for everyone to enjoy! We've got original songs from a few different times in my dad's life, including a couple of very rare, and very raw, tape recordings made when he was only 16! The main bit of it is a solo album he recorded in his studio at or home in Londonderry in the mid '80's (VERY different from Boston or RTZ… think more Steely Dan inspired) which he never felt quite assured enough with to release. It's great stuff though and everyone who's had a chance to hear it has said so! He was always more critical of himself than anyone else ever would have been.

My dad's 60th birthday would have been this June 12, and so we wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. That's what really inspired this whole process… and it's turned out to be a very long and intricate process. His good friend Roger Carmody has literally been baking and removing 20+ years of accumulated mold from old master recordings, and as such I don't think we're going to make our June 12 deadline for an entire album, but the revised plan right now is to have at least one song ready to go up on iTunes by that date as a little teaser of what's going to make the final cut! Everything we have is special in its own way, so in the end it will really come down to practical matters more than anything else. What can be salvaged properly, what permissions we get from those involved with the recordings. There are a couple of covers (Beatles?!?) that we would LOVE to put out, IF we can afford the rights to release them! In a perfect world we would love to eventually put out everything we have. Might even be a couple of albums' worth who knows?

Rock Hard Magazine: What's your ABSOLUTE favorite cut of the stuff you're releasing and why?

Jenna Delp: I think my personal favorites are the couple of recordings I have of my father and his friend Roger singing original songs they wrote when they were just teenagers! It was literally just the two of them with a guitar sitting beside a push-button recorder, so they're very raw and unproduced, but that's exactly what I like about them. It was just my dad doing what he loved best.

Rock Hard Magazine: Did you inherit the great vocal genes?

Jenna Delp: Hahaha, no! I joke all the time that the musical genius gene in my family must be on the Y chromosome because it definitely bypassed me. My brother, on the other hand got it in spades! I sing pretty badly in the shower, and in the car, and occasionally in very dimly lit karaoke bars. I do have a natural passion for music though. I always keep music playing very prominently while I'm writing my screenplays. I also apparently have a gift for memorizing song lyrics… even in other languages! I just recently managed to learn the words to four songs by one of my absolute favorite bands, Kaizers Orchestra, from Norway, and sing exclusively in Norwegian! (laughs) One thing I'd like everyone to know: last year I participated in the Mongol Rally, a crazy adventure whereby nearly five hundred teams from around the world drove tiny, unsuitable cars from London all the way to Mongolia in the name of charity. My team, The Non-Toxic Avengers, took a little Citroen Saxo that we had converted to run on vegetable oil fuel, and managed to raise nearly $1000 for Mercy Corps Mongolia, and another $1000 for The Brad Delp Foundation. We had so much fun that we are doing it again this coming December… well, sort of. This time we're conquering India, and we're calling ourselves The Taj Mahal'ics. The same group that puts on The Mongol Rally also puts on The Rickshaw Run, whereby around fifty teams attempt to take tiny auto rickshaws all the way across India. Our event begins on New Year's Day 2012 in Jaisalmer, in the north of India, and ends (we hope) 2 weeks later in Cochin, down in the southern tip. We're back at it, raising money for The Brad Delp Foundation, as well as FRANK Water Projects in India, and we hope to be just as successful in our fundraising as we were on the Mongol Rally. For more information and to make an on-line donation please visit our website www.tajmahalics.com

Rock Hard Magazine: What did Brad think about his voice and his talent?

Micki Delp: He found his place in life when he discovered his voice. He considered it a blessing to be able to do what he felt he was born to do and be able to make a living doing so. He often said "If I can put food on the table for my family by singing I am a lucky man." It was not fame or fortune that he sought, he just wanted to sing. He was always acutely aware of very talented musicians that had to work two or three jobs just to support their families while having to make their first love, music, just a hobby, and he tried to help them as much as he could by lending his voice to their various projects, or having them record in his home studio.

Rock Hard Magazine: Was there anything he ever told you about something he wanted to do vocally that frustrated him for any reason?

Micki Delp: He loved Steely Dan and he worked on a solo album, that was very jazz/blues oriented. He didn't release it because he said he didn't feel it was "ready" and this frustrated him. I think he was too critical of himself because everyone who heard this material was blown away with what he had created and his voice was perfection. One other wish he often spoke of was that he would have loved to do a duet with Ann Wilson from Heart. He said he thought their voices would have complimented each other.

Rock Hard Magazine: What was your favorite thing he could do with his voice and what's your favorite recorded song of his?

Micki Delp: He would impersonate Michael McDonald, Micky Mouse and Joe Cocker. He was hysterically funny and the impersonations were dead on. My favorite song is "One True Love" because he wrote it for his children.

Rock Hard Magazine: How was his role as a singer different in Boston, RTZ and Beatlejuice?

Micki Delp: I don't think one can compare these different roles as the material is incomparable. Whatever he sang, he did his best to sing it to the best of his ability, and took pride in getting it right, especially when duplicating the Beatles songs.

Rock Hard Magazine: Tell me a great story about Brad's many accomplishments he was especially proud of and why?

Micki Delp: One of the high points of his life was performing Beatles songs with the LA Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl with the legendary George Martin conducting. In typical Brad humor he told of the sound check that afternoon. While he was onstage, George Martin came out and said "you're way too loud." After he walked away, Brad turned to Steve Baker, the keyboard player for Beatlejuice who was there with him and said "we've just been produced by George Martin." He also hit a hole in one in a gold tournament once and was very proud of that (big smile).

Rock Hard Magazine: Brad was a very nice and down to earth man. How did his even temperament help build such a powerful voice?

Micki Delp: I think it was because of his temperament that his voice was so powerful. His absence of ego, his patience, and the importance of getting it right, were all important factors in his ability to sing as he did. It was never about him, but was always about the music. He learned to sing by sitting in front of a record player and listening to the Beatles for hours on end. When he walked away he could sing every harmony part and would teach these parts to others to learn.

Rock Hard Magazine: What do you think Brad would most want to be remembered for and why?

Micki Delp: This is a tough one to answer. I don't think that he felt he was special in any way or really knew that he would be remembered for being the "nicest guy in rock and roll." We've all heard the stories of Brad staying until the last fan was gone and making each one of them feel as though they were the only person in the world. His fans were important to him. He never wanted to let any of them down. If he felt that he succeeded in pleasing his fans, I know he would be happy about that.

Rock Hard Magazine: Brad's voice was like an instrument. How did you establish a great relationship between your instrument and his voice? What did you two do that really worked well together and what is your favorite song you recorded with him and why?

Barry Goudreau: After years of playing and writing music together, Brad and I fell into a situation that worked well for both of us. Toward the end of our writing together, I knew what worked for Brad and what didn't. I would most often develop a whole music track that was arranged and ready to go. Brad would take that track and put the melody and words to it. This is how we wrote the track "What You Leave Behind" along with most of the tracks on our last CD. Brad would never tell me what he was working on until he came to record it. That's when I would hear it for the first time. I have to admit, I had tears in my eyes the first time Brad sang "What You Leave Behind." It was only years later that I realized why. I think Brad appreciated that I let him have full control over what he wrote. I might have made suggestions as to what I thought it should be but never pushed it on him. Brad had a great sense of humor and was always quick with a joke or a one liner, we tried to keep everything light and fun. Otherwise, what's the point?  I remember back when Boston first began to headline. Cheap Trick was our opening act and our sound check went way over time and they didn't get a sound check. They were label mates and we were looking forward to seeing them play. Brad got off the stage and began helping them move their gear on stage. That was classic Brad. I'd have to say "What You Leave Behind" is my favorite song we did together, not because it was the most popular, it wasn't, but because of what it means to me now. Brad had one of the most extraordinary voices in rock, but what made him Brad, was his ability to make everybody he met feel as though they were special, and that he really cared about how they felt, and that's because he really did care.

David Stefanelli: Yes indeed, Brad's voice was amazing. LIVE performance was quite an uplifting ride for me when I got to both drum and sing background parts with my friend. The musical sensibility needed to play with Brad was really wide spread. Here you have this voice that could be that of an angel, and then in a split-second he could rock your face off, ALL done with this voice that ALWAYS retained a certain tonal quality that was pure and beautiful. He could scream and it would be so musical. Not many can do this. His voice always guided me on what to play, when to play it and how it should be approached. Simple really, but a real mess if you don't have that musical sense. For me, I found that the LIVE situation worked the best for me and Delp. I am more of a LIVE drummer and musician anyway. I thankfully can do both but I am happier with playing LIVE. That live energy from a stage and audience is fantastic. And of course Brad's voice was ALWAYS the icing on that huge musical cake. He also was just adored by his fans. They loved the guy. As did we all. You also always sounded better and played better as a musician with Brad in the lead… and his encouragement was always the best, and from what we always witnessed over the years, sincere. He would support you as a fellow musician no matter what! Besides given the gift of being in a band with Brad, I cherish the many, many movie nights we had at his house. Brad had the giant screen viewing room long before BIG TVs were even out. He also had the precursor to the DVD which was the Laserdisc. His movie collection was really great. He LOVED having people over to watch movies and also to serve everyone his classic "chocolate pudding cake." The best thing about working with Brad was playing and/or listening to YOUR part in the mix with his voice. PERIOD! Besides his AMAZING VOICE and musicianship it was his kindness and sort of innocence he had to him… almost like a kid. Make no mistake here he was MORE than intelligent, extremely bright to be exact, but his kindness and good nature was amazing. Just ask the millions and millions of fans that he would always take the time out to say hi to or to chat or whatever. Not a day goes by that I do not think of him. We ALL miss him dearly.

Muzz: I met Brad through some mutual friends when I was doing some recording with a band I was in at the time, this was around 1981. He called me shortly after that meeting to ask if I would like to come to his house and do some recording in his home studio to some of his solo material. With those humble beginnings, we became great friends, and did more watching of movies than recording… as time went on, we not only recorded, but also played a handful of shows performing his solo material locally as well as at the first Boston Music Awards show in 1988. Beatlejuice was formed in 1984 along with some more great friends we made along the way. I always felt that Brad was on such a higher level talent wise, though we did enjoy playing together for years… he was very easy going, so it was always a pleasure to perform, but even more so, to hang together. Enjoying hanging together was key to him, being able to express what he was looking for when working on his solo material. He always made you want to do your best for him. Then, later on, performing Beatles material in Beatlejuice was easy in that the Beatles had done all the heavy lifting, and we tried to just do our best to copy what they had done so well. We all had equal input as to which songs we wanted to do. There are no clunkers in their catalog and the fact that we had all grown up loving the music made it easy to pick up any album and ask ourselves "what can we do justice to?" that pretty much decided what we would do.

Rock Hard Magazine: What's your best memory of Brad as a band mate and tell me a story about it?

Muzz: As a friend, there are too many times to pick from. As a band mate, just sharing the stage, enjoying his performance as well as the constant laughs we all would have together would rate the highest for me. Brad was a lot of fun to be with in general. He had a great sense of humor, and a very humble nature. Whether you were "working" or "hanging" he was enjoyable. What made him so special was again his vast talent and a humble nature. So many people I have met (though luckily have not had to work with) with a fraction of his talent and over-blown egos could take a lesson from him.

Frannie Sheehan: The more powerfully I could play under his voice the more his voice swelled over it. I could actually pump up his voice. Whatever emotion I could put in Bass or whatever feeling I was trying to convey, Brad picked up on. My favorite recording with him is "The Man I'll Never Be" and early song I sang with Brad on the first Boston album. We were discussing what songs to do and I suggested it and when we played that song live it was the one song that often stilled the crowd, and some evenings Brad would actually have a tear in his eyes when we finished. Before Boston, we had a band together called Bagshot Row and we had good singers in the band, and Brad would take each singer and bring him into the living room at my house where we usually practiced. He'd sing you your harmony while playing an acoustic guitar. It was learning your part like it was the lead singing of the song. He would do that with each member of the band. Strum the chord and we'd all blast our parts and the harmonies would be spectacular. The emotion that Brad could put into his voice... his ear was the greatest ear I have ever heard. Here's a story: Back before multi-track stuff we're doing a Beatles song that had phasing in it. What we did was we had 2 stereo tape recorders and we'd sing our harmony parts. I would sing in the left and Brad would sing on the right side of the stereo recorder. Then we'd play it back through the stereo speakers really loud. We'd be on opposite sides of the room and we'd turn the second tape recorder on and point one mic at one speaker and the other mic at the other speaker. And we'd walk around the two mics singing the next set of harmony parts and we'd do it over and over again to achieve vocal phasing. This was in 1970.

Brian Maes: My favorite song that we recorded together is "Until Your Love Comes Back Around" because it was a song I had written and was originally singing, and Brad heard it and liked it, he sang it with me one time, and after I heard it I never wanted to sing the song again because he sang it so beautifully. Because of HIS vocals the song made it to the Billboard Top 20.

Fran Cosmo: Brad was one of the nicest and most supportive people I have ever met in my life. I really enjoyed singing together onstage. He was a great guy, and his having a lot of humor made it easy to go onstage. If you look at pictures of us onstage you see I'm smiling or else laughing hard. Both of us. He'd say casual things in the middle of a song. On my FB page I have a photo of me and Brad laughing together. He'd say something funny to me and we used to goof around on stage and no one knew about it. It was great singing with Brad, we had a lot of fun. My favorite song I did with him may surprise you because it's not a Boston song, it's a song I wrote for Barry Goudreau's record "Nothing To Lose" and it's very special to me. The first year I met Brad, Barry and Sib, we did a record out in Nashville. We had a blast making this record. It was my first time with the "Boston Family" (laughs). We both sang harmonies jamming together into ONE mic. On the Orion The Hunter record I sang "Joanne" and Brad stepped up while we were recording it right behind me and it was a surprise and it worked out great. I sang the high one and he sang the lead and at the end of both songs we ad-libbed together and it was magical. He sang lines around me and I sang lines around him. We did that at The Power Station in NYC and THIS is why these are my favorite songs. Why was he so special? In my opinion again it was his personality. He was a very likable person, very kind, friendly, a good friend and he liked to laugh. Last but not least, Brad was the most original sounding vocalist IN THE WORLD. You know, I have a new record coming out, Fran Cosmo on Frontiers Records, its coming out this winter, and it has a tribute song to Brad on it called "It's Your Voice." I wrote it 2 weeks after he passed, but I waited until now to release it because I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression on why I did this personal tribute. It's just me talking to Brad.

Tim Archibald: Brad didn't have a mean bone in his body. We were down south on tour in 1991-2. RTZ is touring in Alabama and we're all on the tour bus. We hear a knock on the bus door and me, Brian and Brad are all sitting around and we answer it, and it's this guy with missing teeth, the real salt of the earth and he says "I'm a Delp. We're ALL Delps." Pointing to his family while holding up his license. "Mamma needs an operation." So Brad goes out and poses for photos and we see he has his wallet out and he's giving them money. CLEARLY, not any of this brood were related to Brad, but he's got his arm around this guy for the next two hours. Barry do you remember this?

Barry Goudreau: nods and smiles

Tim Archibald: Brad shoots the shit with HILLBILLIES! (laughs) He was like that. He was kind to everybody. 3 a.m. after a gig, he'd be signing autographs. He'd be singing on the bus and it would just have THAT sound like a studio quality vocal and it was coming from right next to you, coming out of his voice. I will always remember how he would sing the Beatles "Here, There and Everywhere" to my little daughter.

Please consider purchasing "Come Together" A Tribute to the Life of Brad Delp a portion of the proceeds benefit the Brad Delp Foundation: http://ernieandtheautomaticsstore.com/Merchandise.aspx?category=12&prodId=22

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