The first time I ever heard the Remains, was while I was listening to the 1976 compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 (compiled by Lenny Kaye, guitarist for the Patti Smith Group). The song was Don’t Look Back and it sounded ridiculously tight for a ‘garage’ act. At the point singer Barry Tashian starts preaching over the drum breaks and that bass kicks in, that’s when you realize you’re going to have to put this song on repeat for a day or two. The Remains were no small players. Even before the band released their first (and only) album they were assigned to go on (the last) tour with the Beatles. They were traveling along with fab four as ‘the backup band’ – in Barry’s own words “a small price to pay for the national recognition we would gain” – amongst other supporting artists such as Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and – Ronnie wasn’t there though – The Ronettes. How’s that for a debut tour? Right! Unfortunately, but probably unavoidably, the band was disbanded by the time the first album came out and they never really toured again until the early 90’s. As we speak there is still a live album from 1969 on the shelves and even a fully finished documentary about the band, that has been postponed due to legal issues. Why were the Remains so tight, was it because of a blue circle of light? Find out below in the questioning I did with Barry, a real friendly and inspiring artist.
So I always start somewhere at the beginning. What are your first musical memories? What stuff got you going as a kid?
I liked Bill Haley very much when i was about seven or eight years old. He was the only “rock n’ roller” visible on TV and in movies. I liked his band…and lead guitarist Frannie Beecher. Soon many other great R & R artists arrived on the scene, such as Fats Domino, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. I really dug these artists. I was fortunate to see two “Alan Freed Rock n’ Roll shows” at a young age. First I went to the State Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut (I grew up in Connecticut) to see Fats Domino, Frankie Lyman, The Cleftones, and other “Doo Wop” acts from the New York City area. The second show I attended was a Christmas Show at the New York Paramount in Times Square, where I was saw and heard The Everly Brothers, Jackie Wilson, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and Fats Domino perform. I was young but I had a neighborhood band at the time. We performed at local dances, the YMCA, and eventually High School Dances when I was old enough. My band was called “The Schemers.” By the way I checked out your link and it seems that your musical tastes are quite wide. That’s nice because so are mine.
How did you get from The Schemers to The Remains, or am I skipping a big part here?
Speaking of ranges of musical tastes, I wanted to tell you about my first musical experience. It made a huge impression on me and happened when I was around eight years old. It happened at a Clambake…which is a traditional method of cooking clams, lobsters, corn, and making a party of it on the beach. The method is to heat rocks over a wood fire, on the beach, until they’re good and hot. Then the clams, lobsters, chickens and corn on the cob are placed on the hot rocks, covered with wet seaweed, then covered by a large tarpaulin, until the all is cooked.
So, there I was at this Clambake with my parents and lots of other mothers and fathers celebrating the once a year party in honor of the “Fathers Club” of my local school. After everyone had dinner and the sun began to set, the band mounted a make shift stage under a tent lit by a couple of simple light bulbs hanging over the stage. I had no idea what I was about to hear…….the musicians had traveled up from New York City where they played in the New York scene at the time. These guys were some of the finest jazz musicians who emulated the music that traveled from New Orleans to New York.
Jasper, when they started playing I could not believe how great they sounded. I had never heard anything like this. I sat next to the drummer (George Wettling) and watched them carry on. These were legendary instrumentalists: Trombone, Vic Dickenson; Trumpet, Max Kaminsky; Clarinet, Pee Wee Russell; with an unknown pianist and bassist. They sounded fabulous as the music drifted out over the waters of the Long Island Sound. I don’t know how late my parents let me stay, but no matter…the seed was well planted!
All these years later one of the things you can find me doing today is taking a jazz ensemble class at the Nashville Jazz Workshop. My wife, Holly, plays bass fiddle. It’s such fun to play the great songs of the 20th Century that our parents knew. Louis Armstrong’s music was what these guys were emulating. So there you have it.
This track is from a Columbia album titled Jam Session Coast to Coast
This was probably cut in New York around 1955 and some of the musicians are different
but with the same drummer and vibe happening. Some of these guys played with Louis Armstrong.
Have a listen…are these guys having fun?
It sure sounds like they’re having fun! Great story too. So I guess I could say this happening was a big influence to you? How did you get into rock though?
What follows is a quick and dirty history of The Remains.
I made a trip to The U.K. and Europe with my friend Bert in the summer of 1964 when the Stones and the Kinks were just blooming in England. They were known in the States but had not really erupted in a big way yet. I saw the Kinks doing “You Really Got Me” on BBC TV and heard some great live groups in London covering songs like “Oh Carol”, doing their own versions of Keith Richard’s great Chuck Berry guitar. I said to myself “I can do that!”
But I did not yet appreciate some other important qualities needed to make a life-long career of Rock n’ Roll.
I went to the Continent and visited southern France. It was there I had my first experience with cannabis, while partying with some Spanish gypsy Flamenco players one night on the beach in Cannes.
Returning to England I went to hear a British band at the Cafe Des Artistes on Earl’s Court Road. It was a pretty hip little cavern type place with vaulted ceilings. I had a toke before I went in. The band was very good. There was a blue spot light aimed at the stage that cast a blue circle of light in the middle of the platform. Suddenly I had an inspiration. The four members of the band were not just wanging away at their instruments; they were engaged in a musical conversation! The focal point of their conversation was a blue circle of light on the center of the stage. This way they kept in touch with each other constantly and, as a result, they were a really tight band.
On my return to Boston University in September of 1964 I rounded up my musical mates in the dormitory and related my story about this magical “Blue Light Experience” with the band in London.
I explained that if we followed my inspiration about paying close attention to each other
all the time while we played, having a “conversation” if you will, we could be an incredibly tight band.
My mates went for it and The Remains were born! We were a four piece band: guitar, vocal, elec. piano, elec. bass and drums. Within two months we had a manager, booking agency and two record labels interested in signing us. Although there was interest from Capital Records, we ended up going with Columbia for release on their sister label, Epic Records. Our friend, Don Law, had helped us connect with Columbia. Don’s father was running Columbia Records’ Nashville branch.
In the following months we finished up our sophomore year in college, dropped out of school at the end of the our second year. We played nearly every college in New England. In early January of 1965 we recorded “Why Do I Cry” at Columbia’s studio in Manhattan. It turned out to be our first single, released in March 1965. It got a lot of radio play in New England.
We did a six week stint in New York City at a club in Greenwich Village and ended up on The Ed Sullivan Show, a Network program viewed by 14 million people. Two months later we also did the NBC Network show, Hullabaloo. We played “Diddy Wah Diddy” on that show. The Remains also continued the college performances, playing at Harvard, Yale and it seemed like every college in the six states in the New England region. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Another Remains single was released later that year; “Diddy Wah Diddy”: that had a lot of radio play as well. It was great to ride down the road and hear our band on the radio. It was a big thrill. “Diddy Wah Diddy” was recorded on one of ours trips to Nashville. We recorded in the famous “Quonset Hut”, established by Owen and Harold Bradley. (Owen Bradley produced Patsy Cline!). I believe it was the first studio on Nashville’s famed “Music Row.” The studio had been bought by Columbia/Epic and we were produced by the legendary Billy Sherrill, who produced lots of hits during his time, including Ray Charles and Country stars Tammy Wynette and George Jones.
Billy helped us a lot and I love the tracks we cut in Nashville. He got a great sound on us.
We did eight tracks there that later appeared on our CDs on Sundazed Records.
In early 1966 we moved to New York City and connected with a new manager called John Kurland. Sometime in June we were asked to go on The Beatles U.S. Tour of fourteen cities planned for August, 1966. Of course we accepted the offer. To hang out with The Fabs was an unforgettable experience! I was twenty-one at the time. For many reasons the Beatles Tour turned out to be a swan song for The Remains.
However, our recording of “Don’t Look Back” was picked up for inclusion in the Box Set “NUGGETS” and a few years later our first release, “Why Do I Cry” was also included in the box.
In 2007 our recording of “Why Do I Cry” was featured in the Judd Apatow teen comedy, SUPERBAD.
The band did not play again until a reunion concert at The Boston Tea Party, the most popular venue at that time. The show was recorded on a quarter track tape and presently is in the works to be released as a vinyl album in October or November of this year, on Sundazed Records. The working title is The Remains Live In 1969.
We re-established The Remains in the early 90’s. Our first gig was at the Purple Weekend, in Leon, Spain. Since then we have played in Spain, France, Germany, the UK, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and of course, Boston!
There was a documentary film made about the band titled America’s Lost Band which made the rounds of Film Festivals the year it was completed. However it has not gone into Theatrical Distribution due to licensing issues. We hope the film will be released to the public one day but there needs to be some financial backing in order for that to happen.
In 1996 my book Ticket To Ride was published by Dowling Press. It is a day by day, city by city re-creation of the Beatles last tour.
In 2002 The Remains cut a new album titled: “Movin On” that garnered some pretty nice reviews.
We still have a few copies of this available on our web site www.theremains.com
We last played about 18 months ago in the Boston area.
Traveling is not the attraction that it used to be but we plan to play again later this year.
Wow what an immersive story to read! Of course I’m very curious about the film and the book. I’m ordering the book through amazon as we speak, as I’m very eager to read all about what went down there. Please let me know when this film will ever be released to the public…I was just on Discogs by the way and saw your name credited on a release by a band named Chirco, one song in specific named Mister Sunshine, is that you? I like it!
The Chirco album contains my first
cover as a song writer, after the songs I wrote for The Remains. I wrote Mr. Sunshine in, like, 1970.
I did not perform on the album in any way. It was written as a more bouncy, up tempo song.
I could probably dig up a demo of my version somewhere on an old reel to reel tape.
I think I was paid $50 for the song. At this point it looks like we’ll wait a long time before that film is released to the public.
– TIME PASSES WHILE I”M READING BARRY”S BEATLES TOUR BOOK –
I just read – almost all of it – your Beatles book…What a very nice read and experience. I especially enjoyed your daily diary/journal. Still I wonder – as you were such a youngster – how do you look back on this period now? Did you actually ever met them afterwards? Sorry I’m just curious.
I don’t think too much about The Beatles nowadays.
They were of course very creative people with bright sensibilities.
The entire phenomenon was back-lit by the Era itself. They were a few years older
than me… John and Paul seemed light years ahead. They were everywhere
you looked. It was a “Beatle World” for a lot of young people in the mid 60’s.
George was the only one I saw again, at Carl Perkins’ memorial service in Jackson, Tenessee, about 150 miles west of Nashville. I had a feeling he might be there so I drove the 150 miles to attend. I was honored to be in the church among those paying tribute to Carl.
As a boy I remember buying the 45rpm of Blue Suede Shoes/Honey Don’t on Sun Records.
I was sitting in the choir section of the church, where the pews are at right angles to the
regular pews. I was lucky to get a seat there. There were some famous (to me) people in that short pew … Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, George Harrison, Olivia Harrison, Garth Brooks, Garth’s wife, and me. Johnny Rivers was leading the the service. And Jerry Lee Lewis was sitting in the back.
I wanted to give George a copy of my book (Ticket To Ride) and had one with me just in case. When the service ended I exited into the rear hallway of the church, where I spoke with George for maybe five minutes. I gave him the book. I remember that he flipped through it, and said to Olivia “these guys opened for us”… then it was time for him to go…so that was it. My mission was accomplished and I drove back to Nashville. the year was 1998.
It was a different world in the Sixties. I was a college drop out and thought I’d get rich and famous through rock n’ roll. But there were a lot more qualities needed to do that, and I soon learned that I was not one of those who could stay the course. But I’m happy that I’ve played music for most of my life. I play every day now. Music is like magic. The Remains’ records are still selling and playing on digital channels, etc. There’s a new release coming out in Oct or November titled The Remain Live in 1969 on Sundazed Records. It’s been an exciting adventure negotiating life. I have a wife and two grown sons. One, Daniel Tashian, is a songwriter and just had his first Number One record on a song he co-wrote called “Hometown Girl” by Josh Turner. Number two son, Carl, is tech savvy, lives in San Francisco, and is writing a book. Everyone has their own path to take.
I’m happy about the fact that you never gave up on music (takes some perseverance I guess) and even passed it on to your children. Your path might have been a meandering one, but you always maintained your ambition for music and that’s worth a lot…it inspires me. Looking forward to that release. In just case I didn’t say so, I think that blue circle theory is really interesting. Could you perhaps tell me a little more about it, I can imagine it’s not really explainable.
The Blue Light theory. How to explain?
I was in a London club called the Cafe Des Artistes on Earl’s Court Road, it was late Summer, 1964.
I don’t recall the band but they were very good. Very tight.
After the band began to play I noticed a spot of blue light shining down on the stage. A spotlight was focused on the center of the stage, in the middle of the band, and formed a blue circle there. I imagined the blue circle as a point of communication between the four musicians, the focal point of a musical conversation they were having with their instruments.
By turns each player added their musical statement to the conversation. In this way the music knitted together strongly and created a very tight groove. Of course I imagined this, but the blue light and the band were real.
When I got back to Boston University, I told my future band mates about the “Blue Light Experience” I had. They liked the idea…
That was the moment we formed what was to be The Remains.