Rockbrat Remembers: Eric Carr (1950 – 1991)

Born Paul Charles Caravello on July 12 1950, Eric Carr grew up in Brooklyn NY, and lived there throughout his teenage years with his parents and two sisters. At fourteen he bought a dodgy Japanese drum kit (then ordered pieces of the covering from Ludwig, so his kit would resemble that of Beatle Ringo Starr’s – one of his main inspirations !) and practiced until his hands were aching. Eric formed his first band at fifteen, an outfit called the Cellarmen (so named because they used to rehearse in his cellar) and they gigged at friends parties, engagements and even barmitzvahs. He left high school in 1967 and enrolled at Manhattan’s Art and Design school, originally to study to be a cartoonist, but then switched soon after to photography. In November 1970 he joined Salt n Pepper, and stayed with them until October 1979 (during this period the band changed their name to Creation, then to Mother Nature Father Time, and also changing their  style from funk/rock, to rhythm and blues, before focusing on disco). Eric’s daytime employment during this period was varied, from fire clerk, slicing cold cuts in a supermarket, to repairing gas ranges – all whilst playing in clubs for around seven dollars a night ! An extremely gifted musician, Eric also taught himself bass, piano and keyboards. From December 1979, he drummed in an outfit called Flasher, a band that performed mostly covers. (It was Flasher’s keyboard player who suggested he audition for Kiss). 1980 rolled forward, and another slice of ‘kisstory’ was about to unfold. Kiss fans the world over gasped when original drummer Peter Criss left, leaving many of them to ponder an uncertain future. But Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley had no intentions of breaking up. They auditioned hundreds of applicants, testing for the right personality, a fast double-kick, and a host of other requirements. (Filling the drum stool for the hottest band in the world was no easy task, and above average talents were high on the list of requirements). Eric rolled up for that audition on a bicycle, wearing torn jeans, and John Lennon type glasses – and promptly out-drummed all other applicants (upon leaving his audition he asked the band for their autographs !).  Shortly after, Eric was given his successful news, and on the evening of Friday 25 July 1980 at the Palladium in NY – a new star was born. He’d chosen the persona of a fox, thus joining the demon, lover and space man on their 
continuing journey of explosive rock n roll domination. A European tour followed, and audiences soon warmed to the new Kiss drummer – Eric ‘The Fox’ Carr. But the European response was nothing, compared to the hysteria that greeted the band when they toured Australia in November of that year. Sold out concerts, heavy merchandising, a reception at Sydney town hall, TV and newspapers reporting their every move,  – Australia hadn’t seen anything like it since the Beatles toured in ’64. (No act since has caused such chaos here, and I doubt it’ll ever happen again). Eric often mentioned in interviews that having 45 000 fans in Melbourne all chanting his name during his drum solo, was one of his fondest memories. 
 During his eleven years with Kiss, Eric recorded seven albums with the band (not including 1988’s greatest hits album ‘Smashes Thrashes and Hits, on which he sang vocals on a re-recorded version of their 1976 ballad ‘Beth’) and wrote and recorded with other artists such as Bryan Adams and former Plasmatic Wendy O’ Williams. He also worked with many bands through his production company Street Gang Productions,  such as New York, and an all-girl thrash outfit called Hari Kari. Before his death, Eric was working  on an animated kids cartoon called Rockheads, in which he draw all the characters, wrote the scripts, soundtrack, and (along with guitarist Bruce Kulick) recorded the music for. 
In April 1991, Eric was admitted to hospital, and was diagnosed as having a heart tumor. Three weeks later, it was discovered it was malignant, and after a successful operation to have the tumor removed, Eric began chemotherapy treatment for cancer in his lungs. In August, Eric’s cancer was in remission and he was recovering remarkably, appearing in the video for God Gave Rock n Roll To You, and also attending the MTV awards in September. Two days later he suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. He regained consciousness briefly from the haemorrhage-induced coma, only to suffer another one a few days later. Tragically the cancer had returned, and on Sunday November 24, Eric passed away peacefully at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. His funeral was held at Middletown, NY on November 30, at which hundreds of people attended to say farewell. He was buried clutching a pair of drum sticks, and now rests peacefully at the Cedar Hill cemetery in Middlehope, NY. 
The memory of Eric Carr lives on, and if you sit quietly and listen real carefully, you’ll still hear the Fox’s thunderous drums…….forever beating loud and clear. 

Note: Article originally appeared in Vicious Kitten Fanzine – 1995

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