March 15, 2007

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Gentleman penguin farmer
A fan says goodbye to Brad Delp
By Neil Lovett news@hippopress.com

During a January 2004 interview in his Atkinson, N.H. home, I asked Brad Delp what he does for a living.

His answer (said with a wry smile, reminiscent of a Beatle during a press conference): “I am a gentleman penguin farmer!”

His home, heavily accented with penguin art and knick-knacks, explained the penguin ingredient of his answer, and you need just spend five minutes with Brad to understand that a gentleman perfectly describes Brad to a tee.

Brad Delp died in his home on Friday, March 9. He was 55 years old. Best known as the lead singer from the super successful 70s and 80s rock band Boston, Delp carved his niche in rock and roll history with his signature vocals on Boston recordings, particularly the groups self-titled debut album, Boston, which was released in 1976 and sold over 20 million copies. On the Boston album, Delp belted out, with great range and ferocity, rock and roll classics, such as “More Than a Feeling” and “Rock and Roll Band.” He also has thrilled thousands of fans across the country with his dead-on vocals in his Beatle cover-band, known as Beatle-Juice.

Despite Boston’s success, Delp never achieved the house hold name status as did some of his contemporaries like Steve Tyler or David Lee Roth. Knowing Delp, you realized he possessed rock-star talent but not the rock star mentality. You scan his home and other than the original John Lennon painting given to him by Boston counterpart Tom Scholz, which is hanging over his piano, there are no extravagances to be seen. Most of the music-related paraphernalia are in honor of his beloved musical heroes, The Beatles and not memories of his Boston days.

Brad Delp’s greatest strength was his compassion as a human being. He made all he came in contact with feel comfortable. Whether playing a charity event at the Palace Theatre or a mega-show at the Verizon Wireless Arena, he connected with his fans, engaging the audience with personal salutations and handshakes. After a few minutes talking with Brad, you felt you had a new friend, he was that sincere.

Since his death, I’ve heard nothing negative said about the man. After his death, the band Boston took down its Web site and replaced it with a picture of Brad and the caption: “The kindest, most caring, down to earth rock star the world has ever known.” To be remembered that way by so many says so much more about the man than any song he’s ever sung. Brad Delp will be sorely missed.