One of the coolest voices of '70s arena rock was silenced a couple of weeks ago. Brad Delp, the man with the trademark voice of Boston, had a history of depression and killed himself by asphyxiation. He was 55.
He left a legion of fans to mourn the loss myself included.
I was first introduced to Delp's soaring voice in 1976, when I was in third grade. Boston's self-titled debut album was released and the first single, "More than a Feeling," was heard all over the radio. The crisp harmonies took me away into the vast reaches of melody. A friend had the album I'd go to his house, and we'd both try to sing ebony porn along and hit those sky-high vocal notes.
When the follow-up album "Don't Look Back" came out in 1978, I decided that the title track, about breaking free and living your life the way you want, was my favorite Boston song. And that still holds true today. Every time I hear that trademark opening guitar lick, I instinctively turn the volume knob up a few notches.
After eight years, a few lawsuits filed by former band members and a record label, Delp's voice returned to front a new version of Boston, complete with founder/guitarist Tom Scholz. The release was called "Third Stage." The album was released the first month I was in Japan serving an LDS mission. I had waited eight years for the album, and when it came out I couldn't listen to secular music.
Anyway, "Third Stage" was the first album I bought when I returned home two years later. And while "Don't Look Back" is my favorite Boston song, "Third Stage" is my favorite album.
Delp appeared on four of the five Boston studio albums. The album he didn't do was the band's fourth, "Walk On," released in 1994. He was involved with another band, RTZ (Return to Zero), and couldn't break free, although he was given a songwriting credit to the album's "Walk On" title track.
Delp returned to the band in time for the subsequent tour, which made a stop at Wolf Mountain, now The Canyons in Park City.
In 1997, one of my dreams was fulfilled. I was able to interview Delp a couple of weeks before Boston came to play at the David O. McKay Center at Utah Valley State College. He was the nicest guy I've ever talked with, shunning compliments about his voice and redirecting it toward Scholz. "I credit Tom for coming up with a sound that's so recognizable," he said. "And how he helped me with my voice development was great."
In 2002, the fifth Boston album, "Corporate America," was released. It will go down in history as the band's weakest. Even Delp's powerful voice was toned down to just a couple of songs, and even then, it was hard to recognize.
The group scheduled a return concert to UVSC that year but canceled at the last minute.
Boston will always have a special place in my heart. It was a big part of the soundtrack of my youth.
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