A Rockapaedia Obituary
Bands: The Cellarmen, Kiss
Eric Carr died aged forty-one on 24th November, 1991 in New York City, United States of America.. In February 1991, Eric Carr had begun feeling ill and medical tests initially revealed what appeared to be manageable health issues but further tests determined that he had heart cancer. In April 1991, Eric Carr underwent a series of surgeries to remove tumors in his right atrium and lungs in an effort to restore heart function and prevent the cancer's growth.
Soon after Eric Carr's diagnosis, Kiss replaced him with session drummer Eric Singer to commence new recordings for the band's upcoming album 'Revenge'. After recovering from the multiple surgeries, Eric Carr pressed Stanley and Simmons to let him back into the band but they refused; both have stated they repeatedly told Eric Carr to focus on his cancer treatments and they would allow him to return to Kiss once he regained his health. By mid-1991, the band was preparing to shoot the music video for their upcoming single "God Gave Rock and Roll to You". Despite his poor health, Eric Carr asked Stanley and Simmons to allow him to be in the video and they ultimately agreed.
Eric Carr flew to Los Angeles in July 1991 and by that point, he had lost his hair due to chemotherapy treatments and was wearing a wig. After the video shoot, Eric Carr flew back to New York to continue cancer treatments but his health had deteriorated to the point where he was unable to play drums for the recording sessions for 'Revenge' and his replacement, Eric Singer, played on these album's tracks.
Eric Carr's last public appearance with Kiss was at the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1991 and not long afterwards, he suffered an aneurysm and was rushed to hospital. Several days later, he suffered a brain hemorrhage and never again regained consciousness. Eric Carr died on the same day as Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the British rock band Queen, whose death attracted far more media attention.
Eric had also been in an almost four-year relationship with future model & actress Eric Carrie Stevens at the time of his death. In keeping with Eric's accessibility to his fans, his family decided to open his funeral service to the public while reserving the interment as a private event. Eric Carr is interred in Cedar Hill Cemetery in the town of Newburgh, New York State. U.S.A.
Although it was not publicised at the time, Eric Carr's death was considered controversial amongst his family and Kiss. Both Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons were labelled as the "bad guys" by Eric Carr for booting him out of the band and not supporting him in his time of need. The two were not made aware of this until they attended his funeral and were treated with hostility by Eric Carr's family and friends. Stanley wrote in his autobiography that the allegation of mistreating Eric Carr was simply untrue and that he did what he thought was right to support him. However, during Eric Carr's service, Paul Stanley admitted to "sobbing uncontrollably" and later regretted the way he had handled the situation.
Eric, birth name Paul Charles Caravello, also known as the Fox, was born on 12th July, 1950 in Brooklyn, New York, United States of America. He grew up in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn in New York City and because his father worked most of the time, Eric didn't see that much of him, and "never went to a baseball game or that kind of stuff" with his father. He spent a lot of time alone in his room, playing with toy soldiers and toy monsters.
Eric attended the High School of Art and Design and planned at first to be a cartoonist but then changed his mind quickly thereafter and decided to study photography. He was one of only two students in his high school who had long hair, mostly due to his love of the Beatles. He recalled that he used to Dippity-Do his hair down, to make it stay flat and used to have a Beatles haircut, but his hair was curly so he couldn't get it to lay flat like the Beatles.
Eric graduated from high school in 1967 and at around that time, riots started to occur in New York City, followed by white flight that began to make his neighborhood more predominantly African-American. Eric stated that this was not a real concern to him, because he never had any problems with anybody and had black friends and never grew up thinking in racial kinds of terms.
While still in high school, Eric began playing with a string of bands mostly performing covers of Top 40 songs and as he described it later, "Top-40 in those days was everything – funk, ballads, rock, country, and everything. It was a great time for radio."
His first band, The Cellarmen, was formed in 1965 by him and several of his friends. They started playing local clubs in Brooklyn and Queens but only a handful of recordings were released on the Jody Records label, a small Brooklyn recording studio. Eric then joined a band called "Things That Go Bump in the Night" and later "Smack", the latter of which consisted mostly of members from The Cellarmen, who disbanded in 1968.
In 1970, Eric joined the band Salt & Pepper, which started as a cover band playing music from multiple genres; the band was named that because half of the members were black and half were white. In 1973 the band changed their name to Creation and was then performing disco music.
Tragedy struck in 1974 when a fire broke out during a discothèque gig at Gulliver's nightclub in Port Chester, New York, killing dozens of people including the band's keyboardist and lead singer. Eric escaped and was credited with saving another person, one of the band's female singers. It was determined that the fire had been started by a thief in an adjacent building hoping to cover his tracks.
The band continued on, sometimes under the name, "Bionic Boogie" and they held a benefit gig to replace their ruined equipment. Eric Carr went on with the band until 1979 and they enjoyed some success, performing as an opening act for established names such as Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone but they broke up in late 1979 afte which Eric later described the band as "like my family basically for nine years."
In December 1979, Eric successfully auditioned for a four-piece rock 'n' roll cover band called Flasher and after three weeks of rehearsals, they started playing at clubs, at which point, he had become discouraged about his musical future after so many years trying to make it without a break, and considered settling down with a non-musical career.
Flasher played the club circuit in New York City and Long Island for several months, before their keyboard player, Paul Turino quit; they then continued as a power trio, with the three sharing vocal duties. They played songs by Joe Jackson, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, among others but bookings diminished, and Eric handed in his resignation in May 1980. At that point, he considered quitting music, having reached the age of 30 without any real success. Shortly afterwards, he had a chance meeting with Turino in a club in Queens wher Turino told him about Peter Criss' departure from Kiss, and urged him to audition to become the Kiss drummer.
Eric applied to Kiss, submitting a cassette tape of Kiss' current single "Shandi" but with his vocals over the music instead of Paul Stanley's vocals. The application was put into a bright orange folder to make it stand out visually.
While sitting outside the room used for the audition, Eric watched the three members of Kiss — Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley — walk by to enter the room. He was one of the few people outside of the band's circle of friends, family and music business partners, to see Kiss without make-up. "Paul, I knew right away", he told a fanzine in 1990. "The others I wasn't sure about."
Eric was the last drummer to audition for the band and he asked Paul Stanley, Genr Simmons and Frehley to autograph the list of Kiss songs he was to play with the band, in case he never saw them again.
A significant advantage for Eric may have been his relative anonymity as said Paul Stanley, "It was really important to us that we got somebody who was unknown... We didn't want somebody who last week was in Rod Stewart's band or in Rainbow." The press release announcing the induction of Eric Carr into Kiss deducted three years from his actual age in part to confuse those seeking information about his true identity, but also to help create an identification with Caravello – a young fan chosen out of the crowd to be the new Kiss rummer.
After Eric passed the audition, time was short but the band had some trouble coming up with a character persona and a stage name for him before his debut concert. "We never actually told him he was in the band," stated Paul Stanley on USA Network's Night Flight program in 1983, "We just said: "In two weeks we're playing.'"
Eric Carr was alleged by Gene Simmons to have originally considered going by the name "Rusty Blade" until Simmons dissuaded him. He decided on "Eric Eric" quite carefully after noticing that while the four members' full stage names were each three syllables long, Criss' name was the inverse of the other three band members' name syllable pattern – 'Peter Criss' was two syllables followed by a single syllable. He decided to make his stage name sound the same rhythmically as Peter Criss' by choosing a double syllable first name and a single syllable last name so when people said all four names together it would still fit the same to the ear. Eric Carr was shortened from his birth name Caravello, and he chose Eric from a list of first names his girlfriend at the time had given him. Paul Caravello, however, remained Eric Carr's legal name.
Besides drumming, Eric Carr also played guitar, bass guitar and piano and sang background vocals. Occasionally he sang lead vocals, such as on "Black Diamond" and "Young and Wasted" live with Kiss. His first lead vocal in the studio was a re-recording of "Beth", a song originally sung by Peter Criss, for the 1988 compilation album 'Smashes, Thrashes & Hits'. Eric recorded his version of the song in the same room in the Record Plant where the song was originally recorded, using the same backing track as Criss.
In 1989, Eric recorded a demo with Kiss lead guitarist Bruce Kulick in which he wrote the music, played bass and drums, while Bruce played guitar. Since Eric Carr was not a proficient lyricist, he presented the demo to Gene Simmons with the words to Marvin Gaye's 1965 classic "Ain't That Peculiar". Gene Simmons wrote new lyrics, which Eric Carr recorded for the subsequent 'Hot in the Shade' release and the song was released as "Little Caesar". Eric performed the song a few times, but it wasn't performed beyond the first month of the tour. Eric Carr's last live performance with Kiss was on 9th November, 1990 in New York City, at Madison Square Garden.
Eric Carr's final recording with Kiss was for the song "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You II", which featured him on backing vocals. The last time Eric Carr worked with Kiss was in July 1991 when Kiss filmed the video for "God Gave Rock 'N Roll to You" with Eric Carr playing drums. Eric Carr's last public appearance with KISS was at the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1991.
Eric Carr was a powerful hard-hitting drummer and one of the first drummers to adopt the classic 1980s snare drum sound: a highly reverberated and low-tuned sound. In his 1980 resume sent to Kiss, Eric Carr stated that his drumming style ranged from heavy metal and hard rock to pop and new wave claiming that "I can adapt to most situations easily."
Eric Carr's interest in double bass drumming came from his admiration of Ginger Baker and John Bonham and he also had a love of all types of music.