Bradley Edward Delp was born June 12, 1951 in Peabody, Mass., and raised in Danvers, Mass. The youngest of four children, Brad was a singer from the start, joining the church choir as a child.
His life changed on Feb. 9, 1964, when the Beatles appeared for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show. He began a love affair with the group that lasted throughout his life; he immediately bought a guitar and taught himself how to play. He joined his first band, the Iguanas, a short-lived group that changed its name to the Monks, which Brad played in throughout high school. The group, of course, played many Beatles covers as part of their repertoire.
Once Delp graduated from high school, he worked in a manufacturing plant making heating coils for Mr. Coffee machines while he played in various bands around Boston. His friend, Barry Goudreau, introduced him to a former MIT graduate named Tom Scholz, a guitarist who immediately recognized Delp’s talents and asked him to join his band, Mother’s Milk. Delp quit after a while, but Scholz began a new project in his basement using his own multi-track recording equipment. He asked Delp to lay down vocal tracks to the demos, and the band Boston was born.
Scholz ‘s demos eventually got the attention of Epic Records, who wanted to sign them but wanted to hear something live from the band. Scholz, who had played all the instruments in the demo except for drums, quickly pulled together a band and passed the audition. The band’s self-titled debut went on to become the best-selling debut album at the time.
Delp contributed lead and background vocals for the first three Boston albums – Boston in 1976, Don’t Look Back in 1978, and the long-delayed Third Stage in 1986. Worried that another long break might ensue before the next Boston album, he announced plans to leave the group and formed RTZ with Goudreau, with whom he had collaborated and sang lead vocals on Goudreau’s first solo album in 1980. RTZ released three albums during the 1990s.
Meanwhile, Boston released Walk On without Delp in 1994, but Delp rejoined the band in time to record lead vocals on a few tracks on the next album, Corporate America. He toured with Boston in 2003 and 2004.
In 2003, Delp and Goudreau released an eponymous album. Between Boston albums, Delp formed a Beatles tribute band called Beatlejuice with four friends. Described as “the next-best thing to the real thing”, Beatlejuice played in Boston and southern New Hampshire for nearly 15 years. “It’s the only thing that can make me feel 15 again,” Delp said.
In private life, Brad was an avid movie buff who loved to share with his friends his extensive knowledge of films. He enjoyed riding his motorcycle through the quiet New Hampshire countryside, and often vacationed at Walt Disney World. He had been a vegetarian for over thirty years and had contributed to a number of charitable causes.
Unbeknownst to most of his friends, Delp suffered from depression for many years. It caught up with him in 2007, and he committed suicide on March 9. Tributes poured in from friends and colleagues:
“We’ve just lost the nicest guy in rock and roll,” – Boston’s official website
“My heart goes out to [Delp’s] 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.” – Tom Scholz
“His soaring, seemingly effortless vocals graced millions of Boston records as well as the numerous musical projects that we did together. He will be sorely missed by his many friends and his family. Anyone who met Brad knows he was the sweetest, kindest person you could have known. I hope he can rest in peace.” – Barry Goudreau
“I would like everyone to join me in mourning the passing of Brad Delp, one of my dearest friends and co-workers, and one of the greatest voices in rock-n-roll. His friendship, his smile, and his contributions to rock-n-roll will forever be sorely missed.” – Fran Cosmo
“From watching movies in Brad’s home movie theater as a little kid to eating vegetarian food in his kitchen, he treated me like his own. Throughout the years music changed and people changed, but Brad never did. He maintained his humbleness . . . He created a comfort with his soothing voice and his crazy jokes, made us laugh just at the right time. You can always depend on him to be there for you. He is one of the best people I have ever met and will be missed dearly.” – Anthony Cosmo
“We will all miss him. He was THE most unaffected superstar vocalist I ever personally had the opportunity to meet and spend a little time with. He was naturally gifted and we will always be able to enjoy his earthly contributions to the soundtracks of our younger days whenever the spirit moves us by slipping in the Boston CD of our choice.” – Styx
I knew Brad as a friendly, down-to-earth, likable guy, as well as a highIy gifted lead singer . . . My prayers are with Brad, his family and his band mates. I feel very sad right now. – Kevin Cronin, REO Speedwagon
“I was very saddened today when I heard the news of Brad Delp’s passing away. . . What an incredible singer Brad was — one of the all-time greatest voices. He will be greatly missed.” – Geezer Butler, Black Sabbath
“The few times I did meet him, he was very down-to-earth and seemed like a great guy, without any of the ego baggage. He had one incredible, amazing set of pipes. He is going to be sorely missed in this city [Boston] and the music-loving world.” – Joe Perry, Aerosmith
“I’ve been fortunate to have worked with a lot of perfectionists in music, but Brad outshone most of them. . . His vocal range seemed limitless as did his friendliness.” – Keith Emerson
He is survived by his daughter, Jenna, a filmmaker in California, and his son, John Michael, a chef in Seattle. Their mother, Micki, was married to Delp for 16 years, and lives in California. Bradley’s fiancée, Pamela, lives in New Hampshire. He was set to marry her during a two-day break in Boston’s 2007 summer tour.