The Remains were your classic ’60s American garage band, with a crazy resume that ended with a twist.
The Remains formed in 1964 at Boston University, where all four members were first-year students living in the same dorm in Kenmore Square. Singer-guitarist Barry Tashian and keyboardist Bill Briggs were from Westport, Connecticut, drummer Chip Damiani from Wolcott, Connecticut, and bassist Vern Miller from Livingston, New Jersey. They began playing r&b and rock’n’roll covers, as well as some Tashian originals, at The Rathskeller, a tavern across the square from their dorm. Soon, fans were lining up from Kenmore Square to Fenway Park to see them, and management had to clear out a disused basement to accommodate the crowds.
The band became a popular live act throughout New England and appeared on the CBS TV program The Ed Sullivan Christmas Show of 1965. After signing with Epic Records, they enjoyed local hits with a catchy, swinging Tashian original, “Why Do I Cry”, and their hard-driving version of the Bo Diddley/Willie Dixon classic “Diddy Wah Diddy“. In 1965, the Remains relocated to New York City—where they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show—and then, after about a year, moved on to California. They recorded an album, The Remains, appeared on NBC TV’s ‘Hullabaloo‘, and released the soulful, hard-rocking single “Don’t Look Back”.
In 1966 came the opportunity which might have broken the band nationally, but proved instead to be their last hurrah: they were offered a three-week stint as an opening act for the Beatles, on what would turn out to be the Fab Four’s final tour.
So, in less than two years, they formed, became a regional fave, signed with a national label, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and opened for The Beatles. Impressive, no? So why haven’t you heard of them?
The band broke up in late 1966, and Epic released their self-titled debut album to little fanfare.
That’s it — they broke up and then their record was released. A truly American success story.
Here’s their appearance on the Sullivan show.
And this is their first single, probably my favorite tune of theirs:
A garagier, live version of “Why Do I Cry”, in case you’re interested:
(FWIW, the only reason I know about ’em is because they had a song on Nuggets.)