A Boston native, Delp bought his first guitar when he was 13 years old. The purchase was inspired by a viewing of the Beatles’ appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Delp’s first band, The Iguanas, was short-lived, but he and several of its members continued playing together throughout high school as The Monks. A good portion of the band’s repertoire included songs by the Fab Four.
After graduation, Delp began working in a factory making heating coils for Mr. Coffee machines. His free time was dedicated to writing songs, honing his skills on guitar, keyboards and harp and playing gigs at local bars and clubs. In the early 1970s, Delp tried out for Boston, a rock band formed by Tom Scholz, who was an MIT student interested in experimenting with new recording methods. Scholz had auditioned numerous other singers, but he knew Delp’s powerful and distinguishable voice was exactly what the group needed in a lead vocalist.
Delp sang lead and all the harmony tracks on Boston’s first three albums, and on the band’s hits: “More Than a Feeling,” “Don’t Look Back,” “Long Time” and “Amanda.” The group’s self-titled 1976 album went platinum in three months and was widely credited as the top-selling debut in American history. The album stayed on the charts for 101 weeks and eventually sold 17 million copies. Boston was nominated for a Grammy Award for “Best New Artist” in 1977 and voted Best New Band by the readers of Rolling Stone magazine that same year.
Delp left Boston to pursue other musical interests in 1990, but he returned 12 years later to lend his voice to the band’s most recent album, “Corporate America.” He also fronted a Beatles tribute band called Beatle Juice, and sang and wrote lyrics for former Boston bandmate Barry Goudreau, Sammy Hagar and RTZ.
Although Delp planned to tour with Boston and marry his fiancee, Pamela Sullivan, this summer, he struggled with depression. On March 9, police responded to a call for help at 1:20 p.m. and found Delp dead in his Atkinson, N.H., home. Paper-clipped to the neck of his shirt was a suicide note that read: “Mr. Brad Delp. J’ai une ame solitaire. I am a lonely soul.” Delp sealed himself inside his bathroom with two charcoal grills; toxicology tests showed he died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Other notes were left at the scene, including messages warning the police of the presence of carbon monoxide and sealed envelopes addressed to Sullivan, his son John Michael and his daughter Jenna, their mother Micki Delp and another couple whose identity was not disclosed.
Unlike other lead singers of arena rock bands from the 1970s and 1980s, Delp was a teetotaler, a vegetarian and a non-drug user. The soft-spoken and humble man was often called the “nicest guy in rock ‘n’ roll.” Upon news of his death, this sentiment was posted on the Boston Website. The band’s concerts scheduled for this summer have been canceled. However, a public memorial service is planned for a future date.