What began as tragic is fast becoming heartbreaking as a libel lawsuit filed by Boston guitarist/songwriter Tom Scholz against newspaper the Boston Herald unfolds in court. Scholz sued the Herald over three 2007 columns Scholz claims blamed him for driving singer Brad Delp to commit suicide, an allegation the Herald denies.
Refresher: Boston is a multi-million-selling rock combo best known for 70s-era hits like “More Than a Feeling” and “Don’t Look Back” and has been a classic rock radio staple since emerging from their namesake city. Delp’s suicide by self-inflicted carbon monoxide poisoning in 2007, at age 55, shook the rock world.
As Ultimate Classic Rock notes, former Boston member Fran Sheehan testified that the writing was on the wall shortly after he joined the band in the ’70s. Sheehan was one of approximately 20 people to take the stand with regards to dialogue between each of them and Delp. They chronicled the singer’s inability to confront Scholz, while also offering their personal opinions of what drove Delp to his own death.
According to UCR, former Boston member David Sikes told the court that Delp “didn’t like Tom and didn’t trust Tom. He felt that Tom had taken advantage of him financially, especially.” Not long before Delp’s death, Sikes recalled a conversation with the singer in which Delp told him, “how much he envied me, that I had the guts to stand up to Tom Scholz and the guts to quit the band and to move on with my life, to leave Boston.”
Lifelong Delp friend Steve Frary also offered insight on Delp’s relationship with Scholz. Frary says that Delp told him that Scholz was “driving him crazy,” and was surprised when Delp used an expletive to describe Scholz, the only time that Frary heard Delp swear in the 35 years he had known him.
Oh dear. Sad as this is – and even if Scholz was a tyrant – it’s hard to believe someone could take their own life unless they were already in a precarious state owing to depression, mental illness or some other very serious factor.
For his part, Scholz has said that he “had a very strong personal connection” with Delp and was his friend for more than 30 years. In his lawsuit against the Herald, Scholz claims that the newspaper falsely asserted that Delp committed suicide “because of turmoil and extreme stress from his professional life caused by Scholz.”
Scholz has until June 30 to respond to the summary of testimony compiled by the Herald’s lawyers and submit his own evidence to the court. Whatever the outcome, nothing will bring Delp back. Sad, sad, sad.