Barry had developed a musical interest at an early age and got his first guitar, an acoustic which he borrowed from a friend, at age 11. He began taking lessons and by age 13, joined his first band, the "Tornadoes." At age 15, he joined another band with future Boston drummer Sib Hashian. They would often play at night clubs, sometimes seven times a week. Later, he met up with Brad Delp and Fran Sheehan, both future members of Boston. He auditioned for Brad's band, but didn't make the cut as he explains here:
It was around this time that I met Fran Sheehan and Brad Delp. Fran's house was the place musicians went to and jam. We had some great times there, refining our chops until the wee hours. I'm sure the neighbors didn't appreciate it as much as we did. I met Brad when I auditioned for his band. The guitar player had decided to leave and brought me there as his replacement. Brad sang Led Zeppelin's “Communication Breakdown”. I had never heard anybody sing like that before, I will never forget it. Unfortunately, I did not get the gig.When he went to college at Boston University, he sought to get a degree in Geology. He tried to put music aside to focus on school, but he soon met up with Tom Scholz who was right across the river at MIT.
The group evolved from Goudreau's college band "Mother's Milk" which also included Tom Scholz and Brad Delp. Goudreau worked with Scholz and Delp as early as 1969 on an initial set of demo tapes, where he performed all of the rhythm and lead guitar work. These early attempts to attract record label interest did not succeed.
Eventually we put together a demo tape, and brought it to New York to shop for a record contract. I remember sitting in waiting rooms, not able to get past the receptionist. I think it was these several years of constant rejection that drove Tom to continue to refine the songs and recordings to a point where they could no longer be denied.Later, Scholz re-worked and re-recorded some of these demo songs and wrote several new songs for a second set of demo tapes, this time with Scholz performing all of the guitar, bass and keyboard parts. This second demo set won a recording contract with Epic Records.
Although Goudreau is not credited with any songwriting on any Boston tracks, his guitar work was an integral part of the Boston trademark sound and style. Goudreau composed and performed the lead work for Foreplay/Long Time, Don't Look Back, Used To Bad News and provided much creative input to the primary songwriter, Tom Scholz. In late 1979, Scholz became involved in legal and contractual battles with the band's manager, and later on, with CBS. Therefore, he informed the members of Boston that he would not be working on Boston material for at least a year and that they should feel free to do solo projects.
By this time, Goudreau had written many songs in hopes that Scholz would incorporate them into the next Boston LP. Scholz did not express interest in using any of Goudreau's work. In 1980, Goudreau recorded his first solo LP titled Barry Goudreau, using Brad Delp and Fran Cosmo (who would join Boston in 1991) on vocals, and Sib Hashian (then drummer for Boston) on drums. The record company sought to cash in big time with this "almost Boston" line up. The LP successfully hit the airwaves with the songs "Dreams" and "Mean Woman Blues". The album was promoted as a kind of "Boston-lite" and when Scholz caught word of this he was furious. Ultimately, it was this album that triggered Scholz to ask Goudreau to leave the band Boston.
In 1984, Goudreau formed up the band "Orion The Hunter" and released a debut LP. This time, Fran Cosmo appeared as lead vocalist, while Brad Delp provided background vocals and co-wrote 5 of the album's songs. The album included the single "So You Ran". The band toured in support of Aerosmith in 1984 but ultimately broke up in 1985.
In 1990 Goudreau formed the band RTZ (Return To Zero). Brad Delp left Boston in order to join the band. RTZ experienced some success with the hit "Until Your Love Comes Back Around". Delp and Goudreau felt that the record company was not supporting the band to the best of their abilities and asked to be released from their contract. They later signed with MTM Records; however, Delp departed shortly after to rejoin Boston.
In 1997 Goudreau appeared with the Lisa Guyer Band on the album Gypsy Girl and in 2000 on the album Leap of Faith.
In 1998, RTZ regrouped to release their second album Lost with less success than the debut.
In 2003, Goudreau and Delp teamed up for their independent recording of "Delp And Goudreau". The single "It's What You Leave Behind" received limited radio airplay.
In 2005, Goudreau and the members of RTZ released 2 CDs of songs that were earmarked for the never-realized third RTZ CD. The albums were released in the USA as "Lost in America" and "Found in America". Goudreau continues to perform with Fran Sheehan and Sib Hashian in small, local venues in the greater Boston area, and also continued to perform with Brad Delp until his sudden death in 2007.
In 2006, Goudreau and Scholz got back in touch after 20-some years of silence. Fans hope this renewed friendship will bring great things for Boston, however Goudreau indicated in 2006 that he had not been invited to participate with the band as of yet.
On October 16, 2007, Goudreau released one final song with Delp on vocals titled "Rockin' Away." According to Goudreau, "'Rockin’ Away' was written in the summer of 2006 for the 30th Anniversary of the release of the first "Boston" record. It was the last song that Brad and I wrote together. In it, Brad reflects on how he became involved in music, and thanks his many fans for their years of loyalty. "It was my hope that the song might lead to a rekindling of my relationship with the band. Unfortunately it did not." The song was a minor hit in early 2008, charting up to #18 on the America's Music ranking of rock radio airplay.
Barry occasionally sits in with James Montgomery and is currently a member of Ernie and the Automatics with Sib Hashian, Tim Archibald and “car guy” Ernie Boch, Jr.
In 2007, Goudreau appeared with presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee at campaign stops in Iowa, and the Boston song "More Than a Feeling" was played at these appearances. This caused Scholz to complain that the song was played without permission, and because of Scholz being opposed to Huckabee's positions, he didn't want any implication that Huckabee was endorsed by Boston.
Barry currently resides in Swampscott, Massachusetts with his wife Connie, son Sean, and daughter Michele. Connie's sister Micki was married to and bore two children by bandmate Brad Delp, but they separated in 1991 and divorced in 1996.