A Band About Nothing: Remembering Boston's Brad Delp

The moldy oldie (aka <a href="http://www.q1043.com/cc-common/mainheadlines3.html?feed=104649&article=1815094">"Classic Rock"</a>) stations people my age listen to had their collective needles stuck this weekend on the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Boston/dp/B000EQ47GS">monster album</a> of 1976, in memory of the untimely passing of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/10/obituaries/10delp.html">Brad Delp</a>, 55, lead singer of the band "Boston."

Alexander Wolfe, Contributor

March 11, 2007

2 Min Read

The moldy oldie (aka "Classic Rock") stations people my age listen to had their collective needles stuck this weekend on the monster album of 1976, in memory of the untimely passing of Brad Delp, 55, lead singer of the band "Boston."Delp's death brings to mind a host of repressed memories, not all of them positive. The 70s were a dolorous decade, what with Watergate, the energy crisis, the hostages in Iran, platform shoes, and disco.

In musical terms, it spurted forth inauspiciously with the expirations of Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison, and was capped no less shockingly with the December 1980 murder of John Lennon. Delp's case offers no rebuttal to the observation that rock and roll is not a wise career choice.

What always fascinated me about Boston's music was that it sounded old even when it was new. Next to "generic" in the dictionary there should be pictures of Boston's eponymous debut and its 1978 follow-up Don't Look Back. The New York Times's print obit yesterday (it's not in the online version) cited a critic who said of "Don't Look Back" that the band's lyrics "diligently avoid specifics." The only other performer I can think of who got as much out of as little as Boston did is Madonna.

Regardless, I found hits songs like "More Than A Feeling" and "Peace of Mind" to be listenable, the first 5,000 times I heard them. Certainly, Boston never made anyone cringe the way Frampton Comes Alive did.

Boston was perhaps more interesting in technological terms than it was musically. Band founder and guiding light Tom Scholz graduated with an engineering degree from MIT and worked at Polaroid. He recorded Boston's debut in his basement studio and later started a company that made electronic music equipment and designed a headphone guitar amplifier. (For an interesting tech angle on Scholz, check out Larry Lange's 1998 EE Times interview.)

I had heard Delp had never made all that much money from Boston, but that Scholz came out of it the multimillionare. (Though Scholz's 2002 letter to his fans shows that he had a rough time with his record company.) I don't know the truth about Delp's financials, but certainly the fact that he was working with a Beatles tribute band near the end doesn't make one think of big bucks.

The final, scary thought Delp's death sends my way is that, the heavy baggage and short arc of a rock star's life notwithstanding, there are few of us who haven't wondered what it'd be like, and wouldn't have strapped on a guitar if we'd been given half a chance.

About the Author(s)

Alexander Wolfe


Alexander Wolfe is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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