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.
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.
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.