A tribute to Brad Delp

Boston, Extreme, Godsmack, Bank of America Pavillion, August 19, 2007
By JIM SULLIVAN  |  August 20, 2007
INSIDEdelp[1]
BRAD DELP: A rock and roll tribute.

Brad Delp, singer for Boston and Beatles cover band Beatlejuice, was a rock-and-roll suicide. Dead at 55; discovered March 9. Those who knew him were stunned. Delp was thought of about town as one of the nicer guys in rock and roll. Whatever demons he had remained buried deep within. There was reported to be a suicide note that said, “I am a lonely soul.”

Last Sunday at Bank of America Pavilion before 4500 fans, a slew of bands — including Tom Scholz’s Boston (with 10-plus past and present members), Godsmack, Extreme, and Beatlejuice (with five guest singers taking Delp’s spot) — paid tribute, raising money the Brad Delp Foundation. His suicide was not mentioned on stage, though Godsmack frontman Sully Erna noted, “I wish we were here . . . for better reasons,” in a semi-unplugged set that featured the evening’s most trenchant song, “Hollow.” There was a lot of soft/hard arena rock from Farrenheit, RTZ (a band Delp once fronted), Extreme, and Boston, whose would-be joyous anthems (“Rock and Roll Band,” “Peace of Mind,” “More Than a Feeling”) rang painfully hollow. Boston leader Scholz said, “The best thing you can do for Brad tonight is have a great time.” With Stryper singer Michael Sweet filling Delp’s role for most of the Boston set and hitting every unctuous, arena-rock cliché possible, that was easier said than done.

Beatlejuice had the best material — Beatles tunes. And the reunited Extreme brought the most passion. Gary Cherone noted that Delp had joined an Extreme reunion last year, the band breaking their rule not to invite a “better” lead singer on stage. By contrast, the spindly, ever-smiling Scholz seemed like an android rocker.

The Boston story is one convoluted tale, encompassing three decades of changing members, long gaps between studio albums, and a number of lawsuits. The tribute to Delp may have tugged at the proverbial heartstrings, but his passing will only complicate matters for a band whose rock anthems are the one straightforward thing about them.

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