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Remembering Boston’s Brad Delp

Four years.

Really?

I remember it being a Saturday morning. I sat down with the Star Tribune and caught the small blurb.

I don’t if it said suicide at the time but we later of course learned that was the case.

There isn’t much anymore that takes my breath away – Grace Park, okay – or send me straight to the Internet.

But reading four years ago today that the soaring voice of Boston, Brad Delp, had left us at only 55 did just that.

Soaring Voice: More Than a Feeling, Peace of Mind, Rock and Roll Band, Smokin’, Don’t Look Back, Amanda…

Wow.

2003 was one of the best years of my life, professionally, financially and personally (well in the end I didn’t get the girl, but that’s another story – a long one). A year I acted as a station-host at Moondance Jam in Walker.

And great year, that one: Joe Cocker, Joan Jett, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Lou Graham, Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar.

And Boston.

They were loud: I was very close to the stage for the performance that night. They were also spectacular (I can still remember the people I was with laughing at me as I shrieked “More Than a Feeling!” the second I recognized those opening chords).

And Delp was spot on, close-your-eyes-and-it’s-like-the-CD-is-playing, good.

Prior to the show, I met him backstage.

Hippie-ish, with long, scragly hair and beard. Very soft spoken – you wondered how that scintillating falsetto could come out of him.

Very gentle – no handshake, he hugged you - and a twinkle in his eye. Just real, real unassuming, standing by himself.

Just recently I showed the old picture to a friend, with Delp, my program director at the time and myself.

The PD and I are – for some reason – looking off in the distance.

Delp is looking straight at the camera, a whale-sized grin.

Sad, ironic, whatever: even the way he took his own life was kindly, and bizzare.

He suffocated himself by lighting two grills in his bathroom, and left a note at the front door, warning the next to come in, not wanting them hurt.

Engaged at the time, getting set to hit the road with the group, and again, only 55.

They said he’d battled depression.

But after meeting him just once, I can see why perhaps no one would have easily noticed.

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