It was sad to hear this weekend of the passing of Brad Delp, well-known to anyone who grew up in the '70s or listens to classic-rock radio today.
As the singer for Boston, he helped redefine rock in the '70s by applying super-sized FM production to catchy AM songs. Delp played second fiddle creatively in that band to mastermind Tom Scholz, but his amazing vocal range (which was rarely grating like some of his contemporaries) fueled such hits as "Long Time" and "More Than a Feeling" -- which was more than a little inspiration for Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
Boston's success created a new blueprint for "corporate rock" followed closely by the likes of Foreigner, Journey and REO Speedwagon.
The band made its first Pittsburgh appearance at the Civic Arena in 1977 and its last at the Post-Gazette Pavilion in 2003. Between that, there was a lot of down time for this band that only generated five albums, one of them without Delp.
Message boards have been busy since his death remembering Delp as both a great singer and a humble man. Someone posted on the Velvet Rope, "I remember reading an interview with Scholz where he said that in the studio Delp had the ability to double his vocal line note for note even on insanely difficult parts. He wasn't just an amazing technical singer ..."
Another poster said, "As great of a voice as he had in his heyday, he was at least as great as a human. He looked after everyone who worked on Boston projects. He made the smallest guy in production feel part of a family." He added that Delp "was a fervent student of cities and architecture, and enjoyed meeting people and acting like the regular guy he was."
Delp, who sang in a Beatles tribute band in his spare time, had a big year planned, including a tour with Boston and a break to be remarried to his longtime girlfriend.
Scholz posted on the band's Web site, "As you all know by now, Boston's lead singer, Brad Delp, was found dead in his home on Friday, March 9th 2007. Plans for live Boston performances this summer have, of course, been cancelled. My heart goes out to his wonderful fiance Pamela, his two children and other family members, his close friends and band mates, and to the millions of people whose lives were made a little brighter by the sound of his voice. He will be dearly missed."