The last time the Remains played in Fairfield County was 1966. The legendary rock group was a few months away from opening for the Beatles, on that legendary band’s final tour. Now they were at Staples High School, the alma mater of half their members: guitarist/vocalist Barry Tashian and keyboardist Billy Briggs.
Rock critic Jon Landau had already described the Remains as “how you told a stranger about rock ‘n’ roll.”
That 1966 gig was to raise money for the Orphenians’ — Staples’ select choral group — upcoming tour of the Virgin Islands.
After that Beatles tour, the Remains broke up. Rolling Stone magazine later called them “a religious totem of all that was manic and marvelous about mid-’60s pop.”
They reunited a decade later, for a few dates. But Tashian joined Emmy Lou Harris’ band, and moved to California. In the 1990s, he and his wife — 1964 Staples grad Holly Kimball — formed a Nashville-based duo.
Then, in the mid-’90s, a promoter invited them to play in Spain. They were up for it — and so were their rabid European fans. They played a couple of dates every year since.
In June 2013 they rocked the Bell House in Brooklyn. They were excited about their half-century return to this area: a gig in Fairfield this past April.
But in February, drummer Chip Damiani died of a brain hemorrhage.
The loss of their “brother” — whose pounding drums helped drive the group to cult status in the 1960s, and who still played as energetically 5 decades later — stunned the 3 remaining Remains.
But the show must go on. In August — the day after Holly’s 50th Staples reunion, where she and Barry (SHS ’63) played and sang — the band auditioned new drummers. They chose George Correia, who played with Clarence Clemmons and, Tashian says, “locked right in to what we do.”
On Friday, September 26, the Remains return to Fairfield County for the 1st time since 1966. They venue is the Fairfield Theatre Company (7:45 p.m.), and they are as amped as when they played with the Beatles (and Bobby Hebb, the Cyrkle and the Ronettes).
“When Chip died, we really understood the saying ‘You don’t miss your water till your well runs dry,” Tashian says.
“Losing Chip makes us appreciate what we have even more. We look at each other and say, ‘How could it be 50 years?’ But it is. And we’re committed to each other — to our brothers — totally. We’re spread across Massachusetts, New Jersey and Nashville, but we really are a family.”
In just a few days, they’ll see plenty of Westport fans who for years have been part of that Remains family too.
(For information and tickets to the Remains’ September 26 show, click here.)