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Boston’s original drummer Sib Hashian dies while playing classic rock on a cruise ship

Boston drummer Sib Hashian as seen in the gatefold sleeve of the group’s second album, “Don’t Look Back,” which was released by Epic Records in the summer of 1978. Hashian played on the group’s self-titled debut two years earlier.
Boston drummer Sib Hashian as seen in the gatefold sleeve of the group’s second album, “Don’t Look Back,” which was released by Epic Records in the summer of 1978. Hashian played on the group’s self-titled debut two years earlier. Epic/Sony Records

Drummer John “Sib” Hashian who set the beat on Boston’s first two albums — the eponymous 1976 rock landmark and 1978 chart-topping sequel “Don’t Look Back” — died this week with drumsticks in hand.

Hashian, 67, collapsed mid-set playing classic rock on a Legends of Rock Cruise that sailed out of Miami last Saturday.

His son Adam confirmed the death to TMZ. He said his father was playing drums Wednesday night after the ship left its stop in Puerto Rico. Hashian collapsed and efforts to revive him with CPR and a defibrillator failed. He died on board. The ship docks in Nassau on Friday and returns to Miami Saturday.

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.

After Hashian collapsed, Elefante reportedly asked fans for prayers, later announcing, “Sib didn’t make it.” The Boston band site posted a statement on Hashian’s death that read, in part, “Sib’s high energy drumming on the early Boston albums and tours leaves a legacy that will be remembered by millions.”

Read an interview with Tom Scholz about Boston’s 40th anniversary tour

Boston’s sound was defined by songwriter/founder Tom Scholz’s distinctive guitar tone and late singer Brad Delp’s voice on early classics like “More Than a Feeling,” “Foreplay/Long Time” and “Don’t Look Back.” But try and imagine those songs, and other favorites like “Smokin’,” “Rock and Roll Band” and “Party,” without Hashian’s signature crisp, steady beat, or the visual image of his towering Afro above the drum kit center stage.

Scholz, who initially played all the instruments on the demo recordings that became “Boston” hired Boston-born Hashian to placate former label Epic Records who had insisted on a formal band arrangement. Hashian left during sessions for the third Boston album, “Third Stage,” which wouldn’t be released until 1986.

In the interim, Hashian played on Goudreau’s Boston-lite 1980 solo album and gigged with Delp over the years. Delp committed suicide at age 55 in 2007. Hashian’s daughter Lauren is in a relationship with actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and they share a daughter born in 2015.

Boston’s Hyper Space Tour, with Scholz as sole original member and Miami’s Beth Cohen on backing vocals, plays Hard Rock Live near Hollywood on April 14.

Hashian is survived by his wife Suzanne, daughters Aja and Lauren, son Adam and several grandchildren.

Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.

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