Barry Goudreau

Barry Goudreau
Barry’s legendary licks have been a staple of the global music scene for many moons and his remarkable rise to the top started in Massachusetts: where his tremendous talent is still setting standards and one can still treat their ears to his great guitar playing. Born in Boston November 29, 1951, he got into music at an early age. ‘I remember listening to WMEX, Boston’s rock station, while standing behind the front seat of my mother’s ’59 Plymouth. I loved the music, and when I saw Elvis, Roy Orbison and others on the Ed Sullivan Show, I was hooked. But it wasn’t the singer, it was the guitar I was most fascinated with. I began to ask for my own guitar. My parents weren’t convinced I would actually stick with it, so they borrowed an acoustic guitar from the family of the girl who babysat my brother and I. As they say, I played until my fingers bled, thus convincing my parents I was in this for the long haul. Within months, they bought me my first guitar, a used 1962 white Stratocaster. I was in heaven: I had the same guitar as The Ventures and The Beach Boys! Boy, I wish I still had that one.’
He was in his first band, The Tornadoes,  when he was thirteen years old and then joined forces with another group that included future Boston drummer Sib Hashian behind the kit, two years later; when he was fifteen. ‘I was in that band with Sib Hashian and Johnny V from Lynn. We played at two places in the Combat Zone, The Novelty Lounge and Edwards’ Western Playhouse. When we played at Edwards’, where the stage was above the bar and involved climbing up a ladder to get to it, we had to play as a three piece because four of us couldn’t fit up there. They didn’t seem to have a problem with my age but would tell us ‘quit looking at the girls!’ who were dancing next to us in cages. The band didn’t really have a name, and nobody really cared what we called ourselves; but ‘live music’ would probably fit the bill.’ Later. Barry met up with future Boston band mates vocalist Brad Delp and bassist Fran Sheehan. He auditioned for Brad’s band but didn’t get in.
‘I had a friend who was a guitar player in a good band who had decided to leave the group. In order not to put them in a bad spot without a guitarist. He asked me if I wanted to come to practice to meet them and audition, and I took him up on it. I met them and played ‘Communication Breakdown’ by Led Zeppelin. The singer was Brad Delp. I had never heard anybody sing like that since I had seen Robert Plant. The band convinced my friend not to leave, but I wouldn’t forget Brad.’
Goudreau went to Boston University and majored in Geology. He tried to put music aside to focus on school and getting his degree but soon met up with Tom Scholz going to school at M.I.T. just a few miles away across the river. ‘I attended B.U. from 1969 until 1972. I started there without a major and after taking a geology class I decided to take that on as a major. It wasn’t until I was a few years in that I realized that careers in geology usually involved working for an oil company or the government, neither of which appealed to me. I commuted my first year and lived in several apartments around town from Cambridge to Newton. James Montgomery and Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter were both at B.U. but two years ahead of me and I didn’t meet  them until many years later. In my second year at B.U. I lived in Cambridge and was in a band with a friend from high school who was attending M.I.T. We had a group in high school, Random Sample, and decided to start a band for the fun of it at his frat house. We played cover songs, mostly for parties: and yes there were togas. We decided to add a keyboard player so I ran an ad in The Boston Phoenix. Tom Scholz answered the ad and after coming to the frat house to play with us: joined in. He was an excellent keyboard player and had just written his first piece of music, an instrumental, which would later be titled ‘Foreplay.’ He had just graduated M.I.T. with a master’s degree and was probably comfortable with the atmosphere around the frat house.’
Barry, Tom and Brad worked together as early as late 1969 on an original set of demo tapes where Barry performed all the rhythm and guitar work. This initial attempt to attract major record label interest didn’t succeed, Later, Scholz re-worked and re-recorded some of these demo songs and this music was heard by ABC Records promotion head Charlie Mackenzie and eventually won Boston a recording contract with Epic Records. In late 1979, Scholz got involved in legal and contractual battles with MacKenzie and later with CBS and he informed the other members of the band he would not be working on Boston material for at least a year and that they should feel free to do solo projects.
By this time, Barry had written a lot of songs hoping to have them included on the next Boston album. In 1980, he recorded his first solo record Barry Goudreau using Brad and Fran Cosmo, who would later join Boston in 1991, on vocals and Sib on drums. Record companies sought to cash in on this almost Boston lineup and songs ‘Dreams’ and ‘Mean Woman Blues’ got good airplay. The success of this disc may have prompted Scholz to ask Barry to leave the group.
In 1984, Barry formed Orion The Hunter and released the self titled record. Fran Cosmo appeared as lead vocalist and Brad Delp was credited for backing vocals and he co-wrote five of the new songs. ‘So You Ran’ was the hit and the band added keyboardist and backing vocalist Brian Maes. They also toured in support of Aerosmith but broke up the next year; in 1985. In 1990, Barry created RTZ, Return To Zero, with Delp leaving Boston to join the band. Their super song ‘Until Your Love Comes Back Around’ was written by Maes and got them a good following; but Delp and Goudreau felt that the record label wasn’t supporting them to the best of their ability and asked to be released from their contract. They quickly signed with MTM Records but Delp departed shortly after to re-join Boston. In 1997, Barry appeared with The Lisa Guyer Band on their album Gypsy Girl and in 2000 on their album Leap Of Faith. In 1998, RTZ regrouped to release their second album Lost, and in 2003 Barry and Brad became Delp and Goudreau; and their tune ‘It’s What You Leave Behind’ was well received. In 2005, RTZ released two CD’s of songs that were previously earmarked for the never released third RTZ CD. The albums came out in the U.S.A on Briola Records as Lost In American and Found In America.
Delp performed with Goudreau in small venues until his death on March 9, 2007 and Barry toured with Hashian until his death mid-set during a rock and roll cruise in the Atlantic Ocean on March 22, 2017. On October 16, 2007 Goudreau released the final song with Delp on vocals ‘Rockin’ Away,’ which had originally been written in the Summer of 2006, to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the first Boston album which had sold extremely well; breaking sales records and becoming the best-selling debut album in the U.S at the time, and winning the RIAA Century Award as best selling debut album. It was the last song Brad and Barry wrote together and became a minor hit in early 2008 charting number eighteen on America’s music ranking of rock radio airplay. Goudreau occasionally sat in with blues harp legend James Montgomery’s band and then joined Ernie and The Automatics, car magnate Ernie Boch’s band,  with RTZ mates Brian Maes on keyboards, Tim Archibald on bass and Sib Hashian behind the kit. They did a mini-tour with Deep Purple and released their debut album, Low Expectations, on February 17, 2009 before disbanding in 2011. A year after Delp’s death, the remaining RTZ members reunited to record ‘Set The Songbird Free.’ Written by Brian Maes, the tune was a tribute to their love and respect for their lost band mate.
Currently, Goudreau fronts Barry Goudreau’s Engine Roomwith Brian Maes and Tim Archibald from RTZ and Ernie and The Automatics and Tony Di Pietro drumming with Mary Beth Maes, Terri O’Soro and Joanie Ciccatelli on backing vocals. They  released their debut album Full Steam Ahead, on April 3, 2017. Today, Barry lives in Swampscott, MA with his wife Connie and son Sean and daughter Michele. Final Fun Fact:Barry Goudreau and Brad Delp were brother-in-laws too. Connie’s sister Micki was married to Delp in 1980 and they had two kids, but divorced in 1996.
(by A.J. Wachtel)
Boston 1976
Don’t Look Back 1978
Greatest Hits 1997
Barry Goudreau 1980
Orion the Hunter 1984
Return to Zero
Lost and Found
“Set the Songbird Free” (single)
Delp and Goudreau 2003
“Rockin’ Away” (single)
Live at the Real Blues Festival
Low Expectations
Full Steam Ahead
Published On: December 28, 2012