Leap of fate: Hard work, dedication light new path for Dean Delray

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‘For Those About to Rock’ Dean Delray’s initials received the AC/DC treatment when he had ths opportunity to interview surviving members ahead of their recent album release.

Richard Bailey, Editor

Dean Delray spent several years on the road as the frontman for his self-named band, “The Dean Delray Band,” when file-sharing programs such as Napster undercut his ability to make a living off his music. At 44 years old, Delray was forced to reinvent himself. After selling motorcycles and doing miscellaneous jobs, Delray has found lightning can strike twice, becoming a comedian and popular podcaster.

While most kids spent the 9th grade trying to avoid being stuffed in lockers, Delray joined his first band. After years of playing honing his musical gift, Delray fronted toured internationally opening for popular rock acts like Tom Petty, Lenny Kravitz, and The Black Crowes. He was fulfilling a dream that many have as adolescents, but few achieve – performing on stage in front of thousands of fans. While his group did not attain a household name, it did turn a profit by selling CDs at live events until people quit buying the relics of late-20th-century music.

“I would go to sell CDs after the show and people would be like I already burned it!” Delray said. “So, I went from making great money to no money because I couldn’t sell the CDs anymore.”

After years of touring and making enough money to live on but not enough to retire with, Delray had to work unconventional jobs, including independent documentarian with The Wallflowers and as part of a road crew for massive rock tours. The latter would take him around the world as a tour host for The Rolling Stones.

When Delray found a job selling motorcycles – something he is passionate about – he followed up with the Harley Davidson dealer for three weeks before getting the chance to work there. While the job in sales was lucrative, it required long hours, multi-tasking, and managing relationships. The job would later lead to a job as a consultant in a biker film.

“That’s actually where I got my start doing comedy,” Delray said. “After that, I went on to be in a movie with Ice Cube, Earthquake, and Garret Morris of ‘Saturday Night Live.’ ”

Delray told his boss at the time that he would be gone for only two weeks filming the first film – but he was gone for two months.

After deciding that he wanted to give comedy a try, he took the advice given to him by his new comedic companions. He started doing performing comedy at night: writing, performing and critiquing his craft seven days a week. After getting off of work in the evening, Delray would take a one-hour nap before heading out to perform at as many open mics (where comedians try out new material) and would oftentimes go to work feeling like “a zombie” from staying out until the early morning hours. He knew that if he wanted to be good at this new thing, he had better put in the hard work and effort.

Comedy for Delray became more serious when he lost his job at the Harley shop. The manufacturer wanted the dealership to expand in space, and the new guidelines caused him to lose his job. He took that time to focus on comedy even more.

After another run selling vehicles – BMW’s this time – he finally quit by sending a picture of his sun-bleached black polo with the words “I’m done.” to his manager. The shirt left hanging like a retired pitcher’s jersey for all to look at in awe.

“I rode home from the dealership that night and said to myself: I better get funny – fast.”

Later, Delray would launch a podcast from the couch in his living room and called it ‘Let There Be Talk’ which is inspired by the name of the studio album, ‘Let There Be Rock’ by AC/DC, one of his favorite bands of all time. After entering the world of comedy performance at the age of 44 in what he called “a young man’s game”, years of hard work promoting himself and his unique style of comedy, Delray has built an impressive following and body of work.

His relationships with many in the entertainment industry – especially those in the rock music world – have brought a long list of great guests to his podcast. An interview with Nancy Wilson of the band Heart was released in October 2018 and was credited by many as the interview that mended fences between her and her sister Anne Wilson. Heart would later reunite to tour together for the first time years after having a bitter public fallout.

Late last year, the now 54-year-old Delray had the opportunity to travel to the home of KISS singer and frontman, Paul Stanley for episode No. 500 of “Let There Be Talk.” The two sat and had a casual conversation that spanned topics such as guitar styles, the struggle of being in a successful band, and the kind of motivation it takes to pursue your passion, a creative dream and to strike out on your own path with no safety net. Stanley and Delray could have talked for hours on end, but after a “Thank you,” Delray ends the interview with him.

One of the most groundbreaking interviews, however, happened late in 2019 when Delray was granted an interview with John Mayer. During the opening minutes of their talk, it is revealed that the talks happen organically. There were no calls from publicists or labels putting their artists through a variety of programs to be ‘seen’ or ‘heard.’ Mayer takes a moment to gush about how he and Delray have a lot in common with Mayer saying that he could “rock on that all day” in reference to the conversation with Delray.

The two had conversation spanning topics such as watch collections, the many differences and similarities between their touring styles, and how it feels to evolve as an artist in the public eye. Mayer talked candidly about how he has been perceived in the public eye, what he considers to be some of his best material, but most amazingly he was open with his feelings. Mayer talked about how even though he is a famed musician, he still experiences tragedy and triumph like everyone else. He spoke of how it took “15 years of decisions” for him to end up in the place – mentally, emotionally, and professionally – that he is in right now. The talk would span two episodes and many praised the talk as a peek behind the artist’s curtain without the bevy of cliché questions.

That kind of charisma and attention to detail drew the attention of Sony. The head of the label would later fly to Los Angeles to see Delray’s annual Bonn Scott Tribute Show, a celebration of the life of the late AC/DC frontman who died 40 years ago in a tragic accident. Representatives were so floored by the performance that they chose Dean Delray’s ‘Let There Be Talk’ as the perfect setting for the announcement of a BRAND-NEW AC/DC album, as well as a podcast appearance from the band. Making the event even more special was the surprise return of longtime singer Brian Johnson who had recently spent several years away from the band. While many would have stood at the accomplishment thinking, “I did it,” wiped their hands clean, and sat back on their accomplishments, Delray followed up his AC/DC interview series with an episode featuring Rob Halford, the legendary singer of Judas Priest.

With no sign of stopping his current string of amazing guests on his longtime ‘Let There Be Talk’ podcast, Delray has started another recorded show. The new show, titled “The Grail with Dean Delray,” will be the home of all of the shows that feature all of the things that interest him – from art to watches, custom guitars, cars, and dozens more. His legion of fans–dubbed “Delraiser’s”—grow in number by the day.

Delray’s creative drive as well as his ability to keep the same level of excitement on a communication platform that often involves no camera footage is what separates him from the rest of the pack. The stories shared are so gripping that the recently added episodes featuring HD cameras served as a great bonus, but someone, as gifted as Delray, is not reliant on visuals. The podcasts can be streamed on Castbox, iTunes, and many episodes of “Let There Be Talk” can be found online. Superfans of the podcast can contribute to Delray’s Patreon and gain access to bonus content, extra episodes, and an invitation who Delray’s weekly online hangouts with fellow Delraiser’s.