I am a child of the seventies. I grew up in the seventies, I came of age in the late seventies… in the early eighties I became an adult. It was a tumultuous time, an apathetic time, a time when everything was being redefined, reinvented and moving as fast as it was standing still. I can’t say that my teen years were any more confusing because of the time in which they occurred, but in retrospect, there was a lot going on. Maybe too much. We were the generation that had to pick our way through the aftermath of so much revolution - and there was no clear path.
But we had the music - the big-hair, larger-than-life, album-oriented rock. Radio stations in the San Francisco Bay Area read like a who’s who of pioneering "album oriented rock" stations. KSAN, KOME, KSJO, KMEL and later the classical turned “rock of the eighties” KFOG. These venerable beacons of sanity in an otherwise insane world kept us plugged in to the constants in our young lives… it was the music.
I’m not speaking of the bands that emerged out of the sixties with a new coat of paint like Jefferson Airplane, The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin. True they were icons, rock and roll gods, really, but they predated my peers and me. When I discovered rock, these and other bands were already established superstars. The music that hit the scene as we did, the big-hair, big song and big venue mega bands, will always be near and dear to me. Van Halen, Boston, Kansas, Sammy Hagar, Triumph, UFO and the Scorpions, just to name a few. These were our bands, they grew up with us… and we were there on the ground floor.
Some of these bands have faded into obscurity; some are still mega-stars or have resurfaced in any number of “re-union” tours. And please, keep them coming. Others were plagued with fits and starts - many of them were “one-hit wonders,” yet we loved them all the same. Some went to rehab, some mixed and matched members and far too many died. These guys were not much older than myself, and some are the same age.
Last Friday, Brad Delp, the lead singer for Boston, a band that epitomizes all that was the seventies, died in his home. He was 55. The cause of his death is still unknown, but preliminary reports indicate that no foul play, drugs or alcohol were involved. It was just a tragic, untimely but apparently natural death. (Update - it was determined to be suicide). By all accounts he was, “The nicest, kindest, most caring, down to earth rock star the world has ever known.”
There have been a lot of rock stars that have died over the years, but none have had the impact that I have felt from Brad Delp’s death. I’m not sure why. True, Boston is one of my favorite all-time bands, but certainly not exclusively so. Others have come and gone, other heroes who I have seen many more times in concert have passed on, only garnering a passing reflection - a fleeting, "how sad," from me. This one is different. Boston was different. Many members of many bands can be and have been replaced - it happens all the time. Brad Delp’s voice, however, was the sound of Boston - he cannot be replaced. But he left behind his music and that will live on forever.
Rest in Peace, Brad.