Remains Drummer Chip Damiani Dies

Chip Damiani — whose pounding drums helped drive the Remains to cult status in the 1960s, and who still played as energetically 5 decades later — died today, of a massive brain hemorrhage.

The Remains — who besides Chip included Staples grads Barry Tashian and Bill Briggs, plus Vern Miller — had been preparing for a special show in Fairfield in April. It was scheduled for the end of the Fairfield Museum and History Center‘s current exhibit saluting area musical legends.

In January, Chip Damiani attended the Fairfield History Museum's opening reception for its rock 'n' roll exhibit. He posed in front of posters of his legendary band, the Reamins.

In January, Chip Damiani attended the Fairfield Museum and History Center’s opening reception for its rock ‘n’ roll exhibit. He posed in front of photos of his legendary band, the Reamins. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

The Remains were — quite simply — America’s best rock band.  Ever.

Jon Landau said they were “how you told a stranger about rock ‘n’ roll.”

Rock journalist Mark Kemp said if they had stayed together, “we might today be calling them — and not the Stones — the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band.”

Unfortunately, they broke up — right after touring America with the Beatles, a bit after performing on “Ed  Sullivan” and “Hullabaloo.” 

It took them decades to get back together. When they did, they picked up right where they left off. In fact, they were better than ever.

Chip Damiani, doing what he loved most.

Chip Damiani, doing what he loved most.

I was fortunate enough to be in Gail and Terry Coen’s Westport basement studio the 1st time they rehearsed for a European reunion tour, a decade or so ago. It was one of the most magical moments of my life. And no one was happier to be back than Chip.

The Remains got together regularly after that. They were the subject of an off-Broadway show (“All Good Things”) and a documentary (“America’s Lost Band”).

They all had separate lives, of course — hey, they’re in their mid-60s. Barry has had a long career as a musician in Nashville. Bill is a luxury automobile dealer. Vern is a high school music teacher. Chip was a roofer.

But at heart, Chip was a drummer. He played regularly with any band he could find. And every summer, he was at Gail and Terry’s 4th of July party on Soundview Drive. The food and fireworks were fun. But the highlight of the night — for Chip, and anyone fortunate enough to listen — was the midnight jam session that followed, down in the basement. As his bandmate Barry Tashian marveled, “He still played like a teenager.”

“All good things don’t have to end,” the Remains sang.

For Chip Damiani, the life he loved ended far, far too soon.

31 responses to “Remains Drummer Chip Damiani Dies

  1. I’m devastated. In addition to being a wonderful drummer, he was a great guy and a great friend. Chip will be missed.

  2. my condolences to everyone, especially my pal fred, who turned me on to the remains and remains their finest ambassador. long may they reign!

  3. Very sad to hear this news. I loved The Remains. Never forgot them. RIP
    Chip.

  4. Chip was my musical soul mate. I can never express how much I will miss him. We shared music together for 50 years. I dearly loved him as a friend and musician.

  5. BTW, it’s “All good things don’t have to end.” Because they can always live on in your heart.

    • Thank, Vern. I’ve changed my original error in the lyrics. And I thank all 4 of you guys, for 50 years of incredible music, and a decade of friendship.

    • I played this song today as part of a two song remembrance of Chip on my Radio Base Camp show on WPKN-89.5 FM. Will miss him…just hung out with him at the Fairfield Museum opening.

  6. Nancy Powers Conklin

    Such sad news. I am sure the band members are devastated at this loss. My condolences to Chip’s family and to the Remains.

  7. Joseph Sciortino

    Chip was like a brother to me and like Vern said a soul mate and I loved him with all my heart. To say I will miss him just doesn’t make it. I was lucky enough to play with him these past two years and believe it when I tell you he played like a 20 year old..he was going to bring me to see The Remains play at the end of April and my heart goes out to the band. I feel very lucky to have had the pleasure to play with such a great talent and will carry him with me the rest of my life

  8. I’m just stunned. Chip was a good friend and my onetime New Haven neighbor-of-sorts. I was honored and so incredibly spoiled by getting to know him and the rest of the band the last 15 years.

  9. I met Chip at the Fairfield Museum event last month and was thrilled when I heard from Fred Cantor that the band would be performing at the Fairfield Theater Company. I was lucky enough to see the Remains at the last evening’s performance of All Good Things some years ago. This is sad news as hoped The Remains somehow would rise again, release more music and rock on a bit more us fans.

  10. I only just met Chip at the Fairfield Museum event. He was passionate as ever and was looking forward to playing music with him. Very tragic. I’m glad that he and the band got recognized and I know he was very pleased to have represented the band for the event. What a bummer.

  11. All of us at the Fairfield Museum are so saddened to hear about Chip’s sudden passing. It was an honor to be able to have Chip at the opening for our “Fairfield’s Rockin Top 10″ exhibit opening. He will be deeply missed by all of us. Mike Jehle, Fairfield Museum executive director.

  12. I’m very sorry to receive this sad news. I only met Chip about a month ago but what an honor it was to sit on a panel with him at the Fairfield Museum and to get to know him a little bit. He was a very humble and wonderfully talented man.

  13. I still have his voicemail on my phone and was going to call him back this week…delayed calling him back last week and now….so shocked… we were going to hook up and talk shop….as kind a gentleman as could be imagined and was graceful with his time for all of us. This is so sad.

  14. Saw the Remains live ca ’74 at the Jazz Workshop in Boston and been a huge fan ever since. They are the ultimate garage band with explosive energy and incredible dynamics. Chip was a true gentleman the couple of times I met him. Very sad news and my condolences go out to his immediate circle of family, friends, and bandmates.

  15. I am sorry to hear of Chip’s passing. He and the Remains turned my song “Don’t Look Back” into a rock’n’roll classic and for that alone I will always be grateful. RIP Chip.

  16. Jackie Locantore

    Man, what a loss to the music community! I met the Remains in 1965, when they were just starting out on the Boston scene, and really taking off. Chip was always friendly, great company, and a real gentleman! The world will miss you, Chip!

  17. I never knew that side of Chip; knew him for many years through his home improvement business. He was always a kind, honest and diligent man who was always ready to help out and always had a kind word. My condolences to his family. It was an honor and privilege to know him in the capacity that I did.

  18. Roger G Ringuette

    Chip was ONE of a few good man. I was there when he got sick and it was a terrible thing to witness.RIP Chip.

  19. I finally saw The Remains in 1998 at Coney Island High. I confess that I, and other attendees, were disappointed with their live repertoire (they played a bunch of mainstream covers), anticipating that they would play more original material. Later I determined that the band was simply playing the songs that they played live in the mid-sixties, thereby offering us a replication of their original live performances.
    Also, I was surprised when I read that The Remains opened for The Beatles on their 1966 US tour since I saw that tour in Boston. The only openers were The Ronettes and The Cyrkle. Subsequently I read that Barry Tashian said that Boston, the band’s base, was the only show they didn’t open. That must have sucked.

    • Jay, your info on the Boston show is incorrect. The Remains did open that show at Suffolk Downs as we did every other show on The Beatles 1966 US Tour. Additionally we also backed up The Ronettes and Bobby Hebb who were on the bill for all of these shows. Our live shows today are a combination of pieces of our musical history (covers and originals) plus some newer material. Since we’ve been acquiring a new, younger following as well as maintaining a large body of our steady fans over the years, what’s most important to us is that we simply share our love of playing together through songs that we and our audiences hopefully will enjoy.

      • Vern, you guys totally rocked. I assumed back in the 1960s that they were all originals but didn’t know my friend, Billy Vera (!) wrote “Don’t Look Back.” They are ALL GREAT songs and you guys totally ruled and still do. Again very, very sorry to hear about Chip. I hope you guys can come to Austin!!!! Warmest regards, Mandy

        • Jackie–I know someone who is working on a documentary focusing on the fans’ perspective at the Suffolk Downs concert. Would you be interested in potentially participating in that?

        • Fred, Thank you. I thought Vern made reference to possible future gigs but I agree, some people (all people!!) are irreplaceable. I will always be a huge fan. I’m glad so many others are too!!! A GREAT band.

      • Thanks Vern for clearing that up about Suffolk Downs. There is a great picture of you guys backing up the Ronnettes from Barry’s Ticket to Ride book from that show. Barry explains in the beginning of the book that Chip decided not to leave Boston and go on the tour. Can you shed any light on this. ND, was great, saw him with other groups later on, but Chip was the MAN.. Condolences to the entire family.

    • Jay, I did not see the Coney Island show but I have seen a bunch of gigs going back to roughly 2002 in Boston, Nashville, Los Angeles, etc and every show I saw was a mix of The Remains’ own/original material and some of their celebrated covers from the 1960s. And they really rocked at every gig I saw (with fans of all ages definitely enjoying it).

  20. chip was a great musician and an even greater human being. A royal friend to my brother Bob since kindergarten days in Waterbury- he will truly be missed.

  21. Chris Herrmann

    Sad news. Just dialed up the “Why Do I Cry” from the Capitol sessions. The pocket in that version is just so deep – the groove nearly perfect. Jon Landau wasn’t wrong. RIP Chip.