Brad Delp, whose soaring tenor on songs such as "More Than Feeling" gave voice to the best-selling rock band Boston, died yesterday at the age of 55.
Mr. Delp was found alone yesterday afternoon in his southern New Hampshire home, the Associated Press reported. While police characterized his death as untimely, they reported no indication of foul play. The death remained under investigation by Atkinson, N.H. , police and the New Hampshire medical examiner's office, with a report scheduled to be released on Monday.
A Danvers native, Mr. Delp helped form Boston with guitarist and studio mastermind Tom Scholz, drummer Sib Hashian, guitarist Barry Goudreau, and bassist Fran Sheehan in the early 1970s.
The group's self-titled 1976 debut album was one of the fastest selling in rock history. Songs such as "More Than A Feeling," "Foreplay/Long Time," and "Rock and Roll Band" helped the album sell over 17 million copies and is a staple of classic rock radio to this day.
While Scholz was the musical wizard, Mr. Delp's voice lifted above the trademark layered guitars, seemingly reaching into the stratosphere pictured on the band's space-age album covers.
Boston's debut has since appeared on countless "best of" lists and was recently voted one of the top 50 essential albums for rock fans as part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "Definitive 200."
The band took two years for the followup, "Don't Look Back." But Scholz, a notorious perfectionist, was unhappy with the results, and it took eight more years for the release of Boston's next album, "Third Stage."
By then only Scholz and Mr. Delp remained from the original lineup. Still, both albums went to Number One.
During its heyday, Boston's following in New England was huge. In 1987, soon after the release of "Third Stage," the band played an unprecedented nine nights at the Worcester Centrum.
"It took us a long time to get here -- and we're going to stick around a while!" the curly-haired Mr. Delp shouted from the stage at one point. "This is the best audience around," he added. "It's good to be home."
Boston kept a low profile after that, and Mr. Delp spent time in a band called RTZ, which released albums in 1991 and 1999. He rejoined Boston in time for the tour in support of the band's 1994 release "Walk On."
Steve Simon, who was in charge of the band's business and legal affairs from 1983 to 2003, last night remembered Mr. Delp as the "go-to guy," making himself available for everything from autographs to interviews to charity appearances.
He recalled a two-night charity event the band did in the mid-1990s at the House of Blues in Cambridge , when Mr. Delp lost his voice.
"He could have stayed away, pouted, not shown up, but he was there," said Simon. "He croaked out a couple of words with a smile. In all ways someone could nonverbally communicate with the audience, he did."
In recent years, Mr. Delp found new fans while fronting Beatlejuice, his popular Beatles cover band, which was scheduled to play Johnny D's in Somerville this weekend.
"We're really kind of walking around in a daze," the club's booking agent, Dana Westover, said last night.
Beatlejuice had been performing at Johnny D's since 1996. Each of its more than 50 appearances were sold out, Westover said.
Though some fans were initially drawn by Mr. Delp's Boston fame, they came back for the group's ebullient performances, in which he always dedicated "All You Need Is Love" to the lovers in the audience.
"Not only was the band really sharp, but Brad had this uncanny way of becoming John Lennon, and Paul McCartney and Harrison too," said Westover, who called Mr. Delp "a dear friend" to the club. He planned to have a tribute to him at the venue last night.
"I think everyone who hears this news today, the first thing they think is, 'Oh my God, he was such a nice guy.' " Westover said. He was "one of the most congenial guys I ever met."
Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry agreed in a statement last night. "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," Perry said. "He had one incredible, amazing set of pipes. He is going to be sorely missed in this city and the music-loving world."
Mr. Delp had recently proposed to his longtime girlfriend. The two reportedly planned to wed during days off from Boston's scheduled summer tour.
Last night, the band's home page was set to a black screen with these simple words: "We've just lost the nicest guy in rock and roll."
Sarah Rodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org