Interview with Barry Tashian of the Remains

Right: The Remains in 1966 (Barry is second from right)

Interview with Barry Tashian of the Remains
By Ronnie Dannelley
Article originally printed in Bad Trip - Fall 1997

The history of The Remains is a lot like the fictional band, The Wonders, in the movie "That Thing You Do". Both bands were on he brink of success and broke up too soon. But that's where the comparisons end. The Remains had all the ingredients for success. They were a tight playing band, lots of original songs, on a major record label (Epic) and even got to open for The Beatles on their 1966 North American tour. For some unexplained reason, however, fame eluded them, and they broke up shortly after the tour. The band is best known for its almost hit, "Don't Look Back", the epitome of the garage band, rock and roll genre. Barry Tashian, the singer/guitarist for The Remains, is the only member of the group still active in music. He has recently written a book, "Ticket to Ride: The Extraordinary Diary of the Beatles Last Tour". The book documents The Remains' gig as the opening band on the Fab's final tour. I recently talked to Barry at a Beatles convention in Atlanta where he was promoting his book.

Right: Barry today

QUESTION: Tell me about the formation of the Remains...

Barry: We started at Boston University in the dormitory. We were all second year students. It was September of '64 when we put the band together, and by December we were signed to Epic Records.

QUESTION: What were the band's influences?

Barry: I had made a trip to England the previous summer before we had gotten together. I just saw what The {Rolling} Stones were doing with old blues songs and saw the Beatles and the Kinks. I thought, "That's great, I could do that". So, I came back to Boston very excited and asked these guys if they wanted to form a band. And that was the beginning of the Remains. We played everything from "I Got My Mojo Working" to Stones covers.

QUESTION: Did The Remains ever open for a Rolling Stones American show? I had read that somewhere before.

Barry: No, never did.

QUESTION: Weren't you still in school when your first record was released?

Barry: In March ('65) our first single came out, "Why Do I Cry", a song that I wrote. And at the end of that school year, when September came around, we didn't bother to re-register another year of school, we all dropped out. We ended up the following January moving to New York City.

QUESTION: Did you write most of the songs?

Barry: I think it was most of them, but we all wrote songs. The bass player was also a good song writer, the drummer wrote one or two and the keyboard player wrote a couple.

QUESTION: Do you still own the rights to your songs? A lot of the 60's bands got screwed out of the songs they created.

Barry: I do, yes. I was at least smarter than that. I have to keep after the publishers, though.

QUESTION: What other bands did The Remains share bills with?

Barry: The Supremes, Bob Hope, Gary Lewis and The Playboys, The Shirelles, The Isley Brothers, Bo Diddley...Those were some of the people that we played shows with.

QUESTION: I know you later went on to play with Gram Parsons. When did you meet and did you know the guys in The International Submarine Band (Gram's pre-Flying Burrito Brothers band)?

Barry: Yes, all the guys in that band were friends of mine. I believe I met Gram at Cambridge, it may have been New York.

QUESTION: Did The Remains ever do any shows with The International Submarine Band?

Barry: No, they hardly ever played any gigs, they were mostly a recording band.

QUESTION: Were there any Remains T.V. performances?

Barry: Ed Sullivan, Hullabaloo, as well as some after school dance shows in Providence, Buffalo, things like that...We did the '65 Sullivan Christmas show and they had go-go dancers on with us!

QUESTION: How did The Remains land the opening band gig on The Beatles tour?

Barry: We had moved to New York from Boston. I think it was along about June when we found out that we were gonna be able to go on The Beatles tour. The tour started August 12th. There were 19 shows in 14 cities in 18 days. That's the '66 North American Tour which turned out to be The Beatles' last tour.

QUESTION: Did you have a chance to interact much with The Beatles?

Barry: I got to hang out with George a lot. George was very open to having a buddy, yours truly, on the tour. He and I would sit together a lot on the plane. I also sat with John a few times, and Ringo.

QUESTION: You were not only an opening band, but a backup band for some other performers?

Barry: We'd go onstage and play 20 minutes and then we'd back up Bobby Hebb, who sang "Sunny", for about 20 minutes. Then The Cyrkle would come on, and were their own band. The Ronettes would come on and sing "Be My Baby" for 20 minutes, and we backed them.

QUESTION: Being the opening group, did you get much crowd response? Especially on a Beatles tour, where they were the main attraction?

Barry: As the opening band, we had something to prove. The Beatles didn't have anything to prove. A lot of people didn't know us, they had never heard of The Remains. We were famous in Boston. Sometimes we got a really good reaction from the crowd, they just really liked us a lot. Other times it was hard to tell.

QUESTION: Had The Remains album come out by the time of the tour?

Barry: No, it hadn't quite come out. It didn't come out until several weeks after the Beatles tour was over.

QUESTION: How did your book about The Beatles tour come about?

Barry: When we got the gig to open the show for The Beatles, my dad said: "These guys are pretty famous, you'd better write some stuff down." So, I kept a diary and I wrote an entry every day. It started out just being a journal, but I combined it with day by day, city by city, what went, where we played, memorabilia, news of the day. There's fan recollection. It covers the 18 days that I played as the opening act.

QUESTION: When and why did The Remains break up?

Barry: Oh, it was basically fate, we broke up the day after the tour ended, because of many, many reasons. I just felt that The Remains had run their course and I wanted to do something else in the future.

QUESTION: But, in the 70's you got The Remains back together?

Barry: That's right, we did have a get together around '76, I think it was. We even went into the studio and recorded a couple of things. We played a few live shows. I felt like it was a step backwards.

QUESTION: Was anything released on vinyl from the reunion?

Barry: Actually, there was one song which came out of the sessions that went on a record which came out in Europe called "Luxury Liner" (the Gram Parsons song).

QUESTION: Have you stayed in touch with any of the band members?

Barry: Yes, I've been in touch with all the band members...they're still around. One of them sells Porches, another one is a music teacher. One has a construction company. And I'm a songwriter and singer and I'm still in music. Me and my wife, Holly, we've made five albums. We write a lot of our own songs, play acoustic music and sing duets. We've been doing this about 10 years, since I left Emmylou Harris' band...

Editor's note- For those of you who haven't seen it, Barry's book is pretty cool, nice photos, great storyline, and is definitely worth checking out. For those of you who haven't heard The Remains yet, may I suggest the Sundazed release, "A Session with the Remains"? It's a beaut, and on this rockin' release, you'll hear why The Remains are still held in such high regard. Definitely main course material here, and you won't need dessert..

Click here to visit the Remains website
Click here to visit the Barry Tashian website