In 1964, four Boston University students — guitarist Barry Tashian, bassist Vern Miller, drummer Chip Damiani and pianist Bill Briggs — took the city’s music scene by surprise, mixing Rolling Stones stomp with tight Beatles songcraft. The line of fans stretching from Kenmore Square to Fenway Park meant only one thing: It was “Remains Night” at The Rathskeller. By New Year’s Day 1965, The Remains were signed to a major recording deal, playing to packed venues throughout New England, even sharing a stage with Bo Diddley (whose “Diddy Wah Diddy” they covered) and The Shirelles. By the end of the ’65 they had two regional hit singles on Epic Records and had performed for 14 million viewers on Ed Sullivan’s Christmas Show. In 1966, the group had two more regional hits, appeared on NBC TV’s Hullabaloo, and garnered a coveted spot as opening act on The Beatles’ final U.S. tour. Enthusiastic response to The Remains’ performances were echoed by rave reviews in the local and national press. Following the Beatles tour, The Remains’ eponymous debut was released by Epic Records, anchored by the instant classics “Why Do I Cry?” and “Don’t Look Back”. Unfortunately the album’s release coincided with The Remains’ disintegration, the band frustrated by an inability to gain traction on the national scene.
Long regarded by garage rock aficionados as one of the finest bands of the 1960s, and forever immortalized on Lenny Kaye’s original 1972 Nuggets compilation, Barry, Vern, Bill and Chip took a deserved 21st-century victory lap, releasing 2000’s The Remains EP, and ’03’s Movin’ On, performing to sold-out crowds in Europe and the U.S. An award-winning documentary about the Remains, America’s Lost Band, brought further late-period accolades to the quartet. Today, Barry Tashian and his wife, Holly, are a Nashville-based country/folk duo who released their sixth album, Long Story Short, in 2008.
(by Stephen Haag and Dean Johnson)