By Laura Crimaldi
Boston Herald

Band mates of Brad Delp, the lead singer for the band Boston, returned to the stage at Johnny D's in Somerville for an emotional performance last night, just one day after the vocal legend's death stunned the Hub.

"Our hearts are broken. We're missing a brother," said Joe Holaday, the bassist with Beatlejuice, a Beatles tribute band Delp helped form in the early 1990s. "Right up until sound check (Friday), I thought we were going to go on for at least another 10 years."

Beatlejuice members and crew were preparing for another sold-out performance Friday evening at Johnny D's when they got a call from drummer John "Muzz" Muzzy to pack up around 5 p.m., said Carla DeLellis, who co-owns the club with her mother, Tina.

A short time later, the news broke that Delp, 55, had been found dead in his Atkinson, N.H., home. Patrons plugged Johnny D's phone lines begging to hear that the news about Delp wasn't true.

"Honest to God, it was like a wake was being done in Johnny D's," said Tina DeLellis, whose club first booked the act in March 1996. "People came down with flowers. People came down crying. It was the most emotional night. People just wanted to be there."

In the "show must go" on spirit, the rock pioneer tribute band Velvet Elvis, which includes Beatlejuice members Holaday and keyboard player Steve Baker, returned to the Johnny D's stage.

"Last Saturday night we played in Keene, N.H., at the high school. He was sounding great. He had a great time," said Baker, who met Delp, a Danvers native, in 1981. "When I left, he was signing autographs about an hour after the show."

In a statement, Delp's family and fiancee, Pamela Sullivan, said Delp will be "deeply missed."

"Brad was admired and loved by many, known as the ‘man with the golden voice' and recognized throughout the music community as ‘the nicest man in rock and roll,' " the statement said.

Band mates said Delp's musical talent was only eclipsed by his down-to-earth style, thoughtfulness and dry wit. An ardent Beatles fan, Delp bought his first guitar in 1964 after seeing the Fab Four on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Beatlejuice got off the ground after Muzzy's wife bought him a Ringo Starr drum kit. Delp planned to marry Sullivan, his longtime love, this summer.

"I'm very saddened and devastated by his death," said Beatlejuice guitarist David Mitchell. "He will be remembered as one of the greatest vocalists that ever was."

A private funeral service will be held for Delp, the family statement said. A public memorial service will be scheduled at a later date, said family spokeswoman Peggy Rose.

Donations can be made in Delp's memory to the American Heart Association, 20 Speen St., Framingham, MA 01710.