Back when LBJ was president and the war we worried about was in Vietnam and most TV sets were black-and-white, four kids from BU who met as residents of Myles Standish Hall formed a garage rock band called Barry and the Remains. For two meteoric years, starting in 1964, their polished performing packed Kenmore Square’s iconic rock club, the Rathskeller, earning them an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, an album deal, and a job fronting for the Beatles’ last U.S. tour. Then, as suddenly as it began, it was over: the Remains disbanded in 1966. “The flame burned out,” says Barry, aka Barry Tashian, lead vocalist and guitarist. “That was the time to quit.”
The group comes home Sunday, December 5, when it will be inducted into the Boston Music Awards Hall of Fame. The Remains will perform their staples—including Why Do I Cry and Don’t Look Back—at the ceremony, being held at Boston’s Liberty Hotel.
For Tashian (CGS’65), the moment mixes pride with a question chronically raised by admirers and interviewers: what might the group have achieved had it stayed together?
“Something like this does not happen very often, so we’re delighted and grateful,” he says of Sunday’s induction. Yet the band’s abbreviated life may have cost it a more prominent spot in rock’s firmament, suggests one music writer. “Had these Boston bad boys stuck it out,” he speculates, “we might today be calling them—and not the Stones—the World’s Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band.”
“There’s really no way of knowing,” Tashian says. “Who knows—if we had scored a mammoth hit in 1966, there’s a chance that we might not be here today, given the hazards of the road.” In any event, posterity excavated the Remains. Since the 1990s, group members have reunited periodically for gigs, including in Europe, where they have performed in Germany, France, England, Spain, and the Netherlands. In 2002, the band released Movin’ On, its second album and the first since its heyday debut. The Remains were also the subject of a 2004 off-Broadway play, All Good Things, and a 2009 documentary, America’s Lost Band.
The band’s members migrated to new lives after their breakup. Vern Miller (CFA’69) is a retired music teacher; Bill Briggs (CGS’66) sold Audis at his Massachusetts dealership before retiring; and Chip Damiani (SED’64) owns a Connecticut construction firm. Tashian remained a performer—he spent the ’80s as a vocalist and strummer with Emmylou Harris’ band—and records country-bluegrass music with his wife, Holly. The two live in Nashville.
The Boston Music Awards, now in its 23rd year, recognize musicians and producers from New England. This year’s winners were selected by 150 members of the music business, including venue owners, DJs, producers, retailers, and writers, and an online public vote.
A limited number of $20 general admission tickets to Sunday’s event, at 6 p.m. at the Liberty Hotel, 215 Charles St., Boston, may be purchased here. More information about the event is available here.
Rich Barlow can be reached at email@example.com.