As of late, Barry Tashian is known as half of an award-winning country/bluegrass duo with his wife, Holly. The Tashians are also part of an actively-performing quintet called The E-5. Go back a little and he was once a member of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band. He and Holly are also parents to one of “11 Questions” recent subjects, Daniel Tashian.
But, go back further in Barry’s career and you will hear stories essential to any rock music history book.
In the mid-60s, Barry led the popular New England band The Remains who today remain as a cult favorite for fans of the garage rock genre of that era. Remarkably, the spirit of this band has been kept alive by a new album in 2002, a stage musical in 2004, album reissues in 2007, a film documentary in 2008, a single in 2010 and above all, a killer live show at Nashville’s Basement in 2011.
During the bands heyday, not only did they get to appear on American Bandstand, they were one of the opening acts for The Beatles 1966 North American tour. I had the pleasure of hearing Barry speak about this tour last year during a screening of the “Eight Days a Week” documentary at the Belcourt. In addition to becoming pals with George Harrison, Barry told a great tale of how he took his girlfriend through the sea of fans and passed the wall of security to the Beatles’ floor of suites atop New York City’s Plaza Hotel. There they spent a memorable evening listening to the Barry’s copy of the new Tim Hardin album with John Lennon. This was of course after John had manager Brian Epstein give them one of his special cigarettes!
However, the story that always amazed me most about Barry Tashian was the distinction he holds as possibly being the only artist to ever sing lead vocals on another artist’s “solo” record. The case in point is his lead vocal on a version of the J. Geils Band song “Cry One More Time” on Gram Parsons’ “GP” album. If this surprises you too, go back and listen again – that’s not Gram singing on it!
I asked Barry about this a few years ago, and here’s what he had to say:
“GP was made in 1972. I met Gram in the sixties and knew him in New York. GP was recorded in 1972, after he returned from France, hanging out with Keith Richards. He asked me to play rhythm guitar on the recordings that became GP. Gram and I did a lot of singing together just for fun. Coming up on those sessions, he still needed some songs for the album. I showed him ‘Cry One More Time.’ Gram and Emmy fell in singing harmony as I was showing them the song. What happened next is peculiar; in the studio, the same vocal parts prevailed. They were recorded live during tracking. I thought the plan was for me to lay down the lead as a guide, and for Gram to learn it and record it at a later date. But, he never did. You’d think that someone would have insisted on it. We’ll never know now. It was forty years ago, and he’s been gone a long time.”
It’s so great that Barry is still an active Nashville musician and it is truly an honor to have him be a part of our “11 Questions.”
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I’m originally from Connecticut. I moved to Nashville in 1982 while playing in Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band. Much earlier, I recorded here with my 60’s band, The Remains, at the Quonset Hut in 1965 and 1966, produced by Billy Sherrill for Epic Records. The Remains also traveled with The Beatles and opened their shows in 14 cities on their 1966 tour of North America.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl?
First record I bought was a vinyl 45rpm of either “My Blue Heaven” by Fats Domino or “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and his Comets. I had to order records on Saturday from the only record store in my town, The Melody House, and pick them up the following Saturday. The last record I bought was at Phonoluxe Records: Getz/Gilberto with Stan Getz and João Gilberto featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim, playing “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Corcovado.” Bossa Nova hits!
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
The First live concert I went to was at the State Theatre in Hartford, CT for a Rock n’ Roll Show featuring Fats Domino and Band, The Cleftones, The Penguins and Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers. Big Al Sears was playing tenor sax. The last live concert I’ve seen was a performance by the Guitar Class at the Nashville Jazz Workshop, near Germantown.
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
Nudie or Phil (Mangler) Kaufman
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
All of Don Williams’ records
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
Daniel Tashian, Danny Flowers, Marshall Chapman.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
The Station Inn and The Frist
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here.
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
Continuing to play music in Nashville with my band; the E-5, and occasionally playing in Europe. A new album will be released in January ’18 of a live show by my 60’s band, The Remains Live in Boston 1969 on Sundazed Records. The Remains were formed in September, 1964 in Boston.