Click play below if you’d prefer to hear me tell this story, rather than reading it.
Over those few months that I worked at Cambridge Soundworks, so many crazy things happened. We already discussed how I helped nab some criminals that tried to use a fake credit card at the store. This is a story of lesser legal matters, but still as exciting.
One Saturday night while working with the store manager, Rick, we were watching the Red Sox game on the big screen in the store. If memory serves, I’d put Rick in his mid forties, a good twenty years older than I was at the time. So when he freaked out that day, I had no idea why.
In the middle of the 4th inning of the baseball game, he looked to our right at the wall of windows that lined the front of the store, and stared. It was later in the evening and the mall was mostly desolate at that point, so I knew exactly which one single guy he was tracking from the far side of the windows directly past to the right.
“Wow,” he said.
“What?” I asked.
“Do you know who that was?”
“Who? The guy that just walked by?”
“Yeah. Do you know who that was?”
I shrugged. I had no idea. I just looked back towards the TV to continue watching the game.
“That’s Brad Delp,” he said, now looking at the TV with me.
“Brad Delp, the singer of Boston.”
I’d never heard of them, or at least I didn’t know that I’d heard of them at that point. I’d later find out that I did know one or two of their songs.
This was, roughly, the summer of 2003. There was no YouTube to go look up a video of the band. There were no iPhones to just go listen to a preview of the song. So I had no way to know that I knew some of their songs until I got home and downloaded some through Kazaa. Technology sure has come a long way since then.
While Rick was blabbering about what a fanboy of Boston he was, telling me the names of all of his favorite songs and insisting that I had to know some of them, Brad came into the store.
“Hey guys,” he said, casually.
“Mr. Delp. Huge fan,” Rick said, almost immediately geeking out.
“I was going to go to Best Buy, but this seems like a much quieter place. I need a new TV,” he said.
Rick looked at me and then back at Brad. I could tell that he couldn’t believe what was happening.
“Mike will be glad to help you out,” he said. Not that he didn’t want to help him, but Rick knew that I was commission based, and — no matter the day — he always tried to do as little actual work as possible.
I reached out my hand to shake his, “I’m the Mike he spoke of. Nice to meet you.”
He could immediately tell that I had no idea who he was. My only knowledge of him had come from Rick telling me that he was a famous rockstar in the ’70s and had a really great career as a musician.
“What did you have in mind?” I asked.
We walked around the store together for a while, which wasn’t all that large, and looked at a few options of those times — before LCD or LED TVs and before Plasmas were that big. We had rear projection TVs and flat screen tube TVs. Basically these were the days of giant dinosaur televisions. If you wanted a big screen TV in 2003, you needed one that’d take up most of your living room.
I did my best to treat him like any other person. I offered no special treatment and just talked to him to learn what it was that he wanted out of the TV.
When we finally had found the right one, we talked about size for a while. He was smarter than most customers and had brought in the measurements of the room the TV was going in, as well as a photograph of what the layout was. He was concerned with not only getting a TV that was too small, but also of getting one that was too large.
We settled on a 46″ Samsung DLP, which coincidentally was the TV that Rick and I were watching the baseball game on.
I rang him up, taking down all of his information and scheduled delivery with our warehouse for two days later, on Monday. He thanked me for my time, again shaking my hand. Rick managed to ask for an autograph before he left the store and was more than ecstatic about it for the rest of the night.
A couple of years later, a girl that I was dating asked if I wanted to go to some bar and see a Beatles cover band that she’d seen a bunch of times. Neither of us drank, but they had a full menu, so I agreed to go.
To my surprise, the Beatles cover band was called Beatlejuice, and was comprised of a bunch of local musicians and fronted by Brad Delp.
“Close your eyes and you’ll think we’re really the Beatles,” he said before playing the first song.
And it was true. While I’m not the biggest Beatles fan on earth by any means, it definitely was an incredible experience.
During their intermission, I went to the restroom in this tiny place — I’d guess it held less than a hundred people and wasn’t even full. On my way back from the restroom I stopped by the stage, looking over the drumkit.
“Nice shirt,” the drummer, Muzz, said.
I looked down, not realizing that I was wearing my Zildjian shirt. Coincidentally, Zildjian was the manufacturer of cymbals that Muzz had preferred, as did I.
“Thanks,” I said. “I don’t mean to gawk at your kit, I was just dying to know where that cowbell was coming from.”
“Ha,” he laughed, “it’s on a foot pedal to the right of my primary kick pedal.”
We geeked out a bit over drums and I looked over his set from a few feet away on the side of the stage.
As I shook Muzz’s hand and was heading back to my seat, Brad came walking toward me, heading back to the stage.
“Hey,” he said, casually. “Oh! Hey!”
I knew who he was — clearly you remember when you sell someone like him a TV. While it’s easy to remember selling someone like him a TV, he couldn’t possibly have remembered me, could he?
“Mike, right? You sold me that TV a few years back.”
“Wow. You remember that?”
“I do. I still have the TV and it works great.”
I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe that he remembered who I was. It was such an honor to see him again and see him perform, even if it wasn’t with Boston.
Years later when I’d found out that he’d taken his own life, I was really sad for a few days. I hadn’t given him much thought since that night in Beverly hearing Beatlejuice. But I was really sad for at least a couple of days.
It was at that time that I decided to go out and buy every Boston album that I could find — like most anyone does when a musician passes away. I listened to their debut album a dozen times in a row, or more. It’s still, to this day, one of my all time favorite albums. Every song on it is incredible, and Brad’s voice is like a million tiny angels sitting on your shoulder serenading you. He was truly a gifted individual and one that will forever be missed in the music community.