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Sib Hashian 3/2017

boston drummerMarch 22, 2017 – Sib Hashian – John Thomas “Sib” Hashian, (drummer for Boston) was born August 17, 1949, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Hashian was of Armenian/Italian ancestry and grew up in Boston’s North Shores area, where he collaborated with most of his Boston band members in a variety of bands during his teenage years.

“I started playing with Sib back in Lynn English High School, and he’s one of a few drummers I’ve ever worked with,” Boston lead guitarist Barry Goudreau told the Globe in 1980, explaining why he turned to his Boston bandmates while preparing a solo outing.

He also for a time played with Boston bassist Fran Sheehan in a hotel lounge act. “I got Sib in a lounge  band for a little while,” Sheehan said in an interview. “He goes, ‘I’ll join you for a little while because you’re making so much money. We’ll make a bunch of cake, we’ll buy ourselves some great equipment, and we’ll do a band.’ So we did that for a while.”

It was however several years later before they all ended up in a nameless outfit fronted by local songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Tom Scholz, who had worked with local drummer friend Jim Masdea to put a demo tape together what would become the unnamed band’s debut album. After Epic label execs heard the demo they offered a contract, named the band Boston and demanded that Masdea be replaced for recording. Scholz reluctantly accepted Hashian as replacement.  The line up for the first two Boston albums consisted of Brad Delp, Barry Goudreau, Tom Scholz, Fran Sheehan, and Sib Hashian.

Released in August 1976, the album “Boston” was the biggest debut in the history of recorded music. Gold in seven weeks, platinum in eleven weeks, twice that in sixteen. More than 17 million albums sold in less than 2 years worldwide. It was the product of 20 years composition perfection in Tom Scholz’s head, perfectly executed by these 5 band members.

The hit song “More Than a Feeling,” took them around the world, but it also took more than 2 years before their second album, “Don’t Look Back” was released. It sold several million copies but it was excruciatingly painful to put together.

Anyone who listened to FM rock radio at the end of 1976 couldn’t help but air drum along with Sib Hashian during a classic percussion moment: two drumbeats with both sticks and a quick cymbal crash that threw open the door to the soaring guitar solo in Boston’s “Foreplay/Long Time.”

Those three beats fall not quite two and half minutes into a song that stretches for more than seven and a half minutes on the band’s self-titled first album, which sold some 17 million copies in the United States alone, becoming one of the most successful debuts in history. That brief indelible passage for Sib Hashian – who was just as unforgettable visually in those days because of his expansive Afro – was also a memorable moment for the classic rock genre.

However behind the carefully crafted scene of one of rock’s OCD perfectionists, it was known that Hashian played on all but one track on the first album – but only after Scholz painstakingly guided Hashian through the album’s original six-song demo, so that his performance matched Masdea’s. Scholz kept the old drum track for “Rock ‘n Roll Band,” and even added some of his own parts.

Their 1978 follow up Don’t Look Back wasn’t preceded by a demo, however, and the exacting Scholz resorted to editing different Hashian takes together to achieve the sounds he wanted. The title track, Scholz later said, boasted over 60 splices. “I’m now pretty good with a razor blade and tape in the studio,” he told the fan site Boston.org in 2002.

By the time Boston issued Third Stage in 1986, Hashian, Goudreau and Sheehan had left. That followed a lengthy legal tangle that pitted Scholz against members of his band and CBS Records. Barry Goudreau released a 1980 self-titled solo album, which spawned the hit ‘Dreams’ , that also featured Hashian and Boston lead singer Brad Delp, as well as future band vocalist Fran Cosmo. Hashian later sued Scholz for back royalties; they settled out of court.

Hashian then turned his attentions to business pursuits, opening a chain of Boston-area tanning salons and a record shop. He only occasionally sat in with former Boston bandmates and for a time, he was a host for the TV show “Scorch’s PFG.”

From 2004 until 2011 Hashian played in local area band “Ernie and the Automatics” which also included Boch, Goudreau, and Michael “Tunes” Antunes of John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band. The band performed in venues that ranged from “tiny little bars that you could barely fit a drum set in to massive stages.”
“No matter if we were playing in a chicken coop or a giant theater, he was always positive,” Boch said. “Sibby did it for the love of playing. When we first started out, we were playing these absolutely small stage dives, and he would be so excited about it.”
Backstage, Mr. Hashian might share stories about performing for crowds of 60,000 fans, “and we’d walk out and there would be 12 people,” Boch said with a chuckle. “It did not matter if it was two or 20,000 – he had a professionalism about him that was inspiring. We called him the engine room because he was like an engine. He never skipped a beat. His timing was impeccable.”

Hashian died on March 22, 2017, at the age of 67, after collapsing in the middle of a set while performing on board a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

Fellow former Boston member, guitarist Barry Goudreau, who also played on the group’s first two LPs, was part of the cruise ship music package with Hashian, along with rockers Lou Gramm, the original Foreigner vocalist, ex-Kansas singer John Elefante, ’80s rocker John Cafferty, and ’60s pop/rock group the Grass Roots.

 

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