Iconic ’60s Band Barry and the Remains Honored
“Lost” BU group inducted into Boston Music Awards Hall of Fame| From Commonwealth | By Rich Barlow
The Remains in 1965: (from left) Bill Briggs, Chip Damiani, Barry Tashian, and Vern Miller.
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 came home December 5 to be inducted into the Boston Music Awards Hall of Fame and to perform their staples—including “Why Do I Cry” and “Don’t Look Back”—at the ceremony at Boston’s Liberty Hotel.
For Tashian (CGS’65), the moment mixed pride with a question often 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 being inducted. 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.”
“Who knows,” says Tashian. “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 did excavate the Remains. Since the 1990s, group members have reunited periodically for gigs, including some 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 Nash ville.