"Happy 62nd Birthday"
ERIC CARR (Birth name Paul Caravello)
Birthday: July 12, 1950, Brooklyn, NY
Paul Caravello had the unenviable task (or vice-versa!!) if being the first "replacement" member of KISS. Following Peter Criss, who had sat atop the golden drum-stool for KISS throughout their glory years in the 1970's, Paul joined the band at a time of confusion with their musical direction, the beginning of utter fragmentation as Ace went off the deep end and Gene started to eye other horizons, and as the massed ranks of the KISS Army went AWOL. For this somewhat quiet and reserved individual, with few pretensions, Paul approached his task with dedication and professionalism, and very much appreciated the position he had been awarded. Moreover, he gave 100% to the band in trying to restore them to the greatness lost. This biography is a tribute to remember a genuinely nice man who came from "nowhere" and gave his all for the band we all love.
On November 24, 1991, Eric Carr, aged just 41, sadly passed away leaving many fans shocked and appalled at the tragedy of life. Gone though he may be, Eric lives on forever in the hearts of all his fans and is remembered every time one of his albums is played.
OUT OF THE CELLAR
Born at Lutheran Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, the son of Albert and Connie, who had immigrated to the United States from Palermo, Sicily, on July 12, 1950, Paul Charles Caravello grew up in an extended family in Brownsville, NY. This extended family included his parents, two younger sisters, Loretta and Sissy, and his Uncle Paul's family, who lived next door.
From his earliest days Eric had a "normal" life. Like many youngsters he dreamed of being an astronaut or scientist, though he had definite artistic interest which was "pushed" by one of his teachers in elementary school. Music had been a part of Eric's life from an early age, he recalled, "my Grandfather used to play trombone in an orchestra. He used to play in a place called Luna Park on Coney Island. He originally tried to teach me trumpet, and I learned some scales and simple songs, but I really didn't want to learn it. I was only about 7 or 8 years old".-Eric Carr
In the early 1960's Eric's outlook and desires were changed, like many others, when the Beatles hit America, the start of the British invasion, in 1963, with Ringo becoming his idol. This new music, so different from anything else at that time, changed his life completely. Around that time Eric's sister, Loretta, was given a drum by their Cousin Andy, something which Eric immediately domineered in hopes of becoming the next Ringo Starr!
In 1964 Eric started at Manhattan High School of Art & Design where he studied cartooning, and soon afterwards, photography, this interest in cartoons would later be put into use with his idea of a rock cartoon, which would later became the Rockheads, but Eric always would have artistic inclinations sketching whatever/whenever.
With his desire to become a drummer Eric soon destroyed his Gretsch drum kit which was quickly replaced with 3-piece Zigmar, which Eric's father had obtained by moving a music store to a new location for free - while Eric helped, it's clear who got the better end of that deal, but the support that Eric's family gave him was paramount in his later success, as was the work ethic they'd instilled in him. Later Eric's father bought him a Ludwig set, and then, after tons of practice bashing out the Beatles, and probably driving the neighbors up the wall(!), Eric was ready to take on the World... well, nearly!
By 1965 Eric had formed one of his first bands, The Cellarmen, with a friend from his school Thomas on bass and John on lead. This band would later include his future brother-in-law. The band's business card listed the lineup as: Paul Caravello (Drums), Victor Cohen (Rhythm Guitar), David Bartky (Bass), and Robert "Bob" Prior (Lead Vocals) According to Loretta Caravello, "Eric put up a card at a music store that was owned by Neil Diamond's family in Brooklyn... After [a] few auditions The Cellarmen were formed. Today one of the band members remains close with the family, he is a successful lawyer in New York, and the other one is my brother-in-law. They got their name from always playing in the cellar... that's what we Brooklyn people call it instead of a basement" (KISSAsylum Interview w/ LC). In the four years that The Cellarmen existed they played numerous shows (mainly Bar Mitzvahs and weddings or wherever they could get gigs) where they performed mostly top-40 material or whatever was popular, or called for, at the time. Before long the band had become the house band at the Colonial House, even though they weren't old enough to be in the bar, thanks in part to Eric's father avoiding an out-right lie when asked by the bar owner about Eric's age!
They also managed to get into a studio in 1967 and record two original songs, both written by Eric. Perhaps with Eric's love of the Beatles it is not surprising that both of these songs, "I Cry At Night" and "Your Turn To Cry", have a heavy Beatlesque feel, but with a bit of Bob Dylan with the use of harmonica (which, incidentally, was also played by Eric). Regardless, they're fun songs that feature Eric both on lead vocals, harmonica, and drums, and they remain some of the earliest recorded material available (yet) by any member of KISS. The material was Eric's first step towards a career with the songs pressed onto an independent single for distribution to record labels in hopes of getting a recording deal - by this time Eric was also developing a drum solo, his first complete piece would be recorded in 1967, it would contain elements which he use later on as his style developed. During the time the band were active they recorded songs as the backing band for a female singer Crystal Collins (not Gale, as previously thought). The two songs, "When You Grow Tired" and "No Matter How You Try" are typically 60's songs much in the same vein as the other Cellarmen tracks. Crystal was a friend of members of the band and though nothing ever came of the recordings the songs were privately pressed onto an independent single. Prior to breaking up The Cellarmen recorded two further songs for some music publishers, "Then I Made A Wish" and "I Found You". While The Cellarmen soon broke up the experience of performing and writing music gave Eric the impetus and desire to go on with music and hopefully create a career for himself.
After graduating from high school Eric had to avoid the draft by deliberately failing his medical by fluffing his intelligence tests. While this damaged his prospects for employment, even though he was intelligent, he worked numerous jobs while continuing to work in bands hoping for the break which he wanted so desperately. Some of these jobs included delivering tobacco for export at Kennedy Airport, repairing gas ranges, a job which Eric remembered with a distinctive lack of amusement considering the dangers of such a job(!), delivering refrigerators for his father, slicing cold cuts in a deli, and working as a paper pusher in the Department Of Criminal Justice.
(Bart, Eric & friends on the steps at Victor's lake cottage)
(Eric's famous "Flower Van" late 60's)
(On the beach at the cottage Eric & friends)
ROCK, FOLK, FUNK & DISCO!
As Eric entered the 1970's his outlook must have been good. He had teamed up with John and Sarita Henderson (and three others) in a new band called Salt & Pepper (named such due to the ethnic balance of the members) in late-1969 and started to play a combination of R&B and top-40 cover material. After his experience in The Cellarmen, Eric must have thought that there was only one direction to go - up! Eric would stay with Salt & Pepper for the next nine years with the band going through several personnel and name changes. According to Eric, "It was top-40 when we first started. It was six people, half-black, half-white, which is why we were called Salt & Pepper. We were doing top-40, but Top 40 in the early 70's was any kind of music. You would turn on the radio and hear Led Zeppelin, then Joan Baez, then Janis Joplin, then Cream, then Hendrix, then Rare Earth, then Chicago. It was everything" (BD, p114). Undoubtedly, this helped Eric develop a diverse skill base which would later prove useful with the varying styles of music he was playing.
(Salt & Pepper - From left to right - Sarita Henderson, Paul (Eric Carr), Bert, George Chase, John Henderson and Victor. Seated is a friend of band.)
On Eric's 1980 resume which accompanied his application to audition for KISS, Eric stated, "I covered the tri-state area top 40 club circuit. During this time we played as opening act to Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, and other R&B artists" (Res'80). While those events may have sounded interesting 1980 was a long time away from the actual events which had occurred much earlier. They had opened for Stevie Wonder in early 1970 at Brooklyn College, and were then third on the bill playing before Labelle, opening for Nina Simone, at the Academy Of Music in New York City on December 11, 1970 (they'd play twice that night). This venue would later become the Palladium where Eric would make his debut with KISS in 1980. While he didn't get noticed for the music, he did get noticed for his hair: In February 1973, a photo of Eric appeared in the centerfold of the New York Daily Herald with the caption, "Is it a boy or a girl?".
As you can see from the early pictures of Eric, even early on he had 'big hair', with his hair nearly dwarfing lead singer Sarita Henderson's then vogue Afro! Sadly, this was not to be the only exposure Eric would get. Later in 1973, with the music scene changing from the hippie era of the 1960's and the disco/pop sound starting to emerge into the mainstream, Salt & Pepper changed their name and the band transformed into Creation. However, this was not before the band had recorded some demo 4-track material, including the song "Stranger" and a mix of covers and originals. This change of name signaled a move away from the standard top 40 of a few years before and led the band into a more "Funk" oriented sound, a sound which would progress, over the next few years, into a full fledged disco sound by the end of the 70's. "Funk", from the likes of bands like Parliament/Funkadelic was a very popular sound from the early 1970's that had started to gain commercial acceptance from around 1974 onwards. In 1974, the band acquired a new keyboard player, Damon DeFreis who was just 17 years old, however soon afterwards an event occurred which, "ironically gained the band national attention", though not in the form the band would have preferred. Playing the third night of gigs at "The Pit" at Gulliver's in Port Chester, New York on June 30th, a fire broke out killing 22 people plus the keyboard player, Damon DeFreis, and lead singer, George D. Chase, in the band. In such a sad event Eric proved himself a hero saving the life of the bands other vocalist, Sarita Henderson, when the smoke came pouring into the discotheque, through his quick action to get out of the club.
The following day both Eric and guitarist John Henderson were interviewed on CBS' Sunday morning news program, Sunday, and in the New York Times, where the shocking rapidity of the smoke spreading was made apparent. It was "later determined that the fire was started by a man who had broken into a bowling alley's nursery", which was located next door to the club/restaurant, in the bowling alley's basement. This individual had "stolen some of the mother's purses, then set fire to cover his tracks". A very high cost for such a crime. The band, apart from losing two of their members, also lost most of their equipment in the fire, though soon afterwards their management, Creative Talent Associates, held a benefit concert featuring their top acts to help the band replace their equipment. The band continued, but changed its name to Mother Nature/Father Time in 1975, a name Eric never cared for and which he thought was totally unsuitable for use as a name for a band. Yet Creation had had some success, even with all the tragedy associated with the band. The had toured the Tri-State area opening up for established Rhythm & Blues acts including Nina Simone and Stevie Wonder, though by the time they changed their name any real success had eluded them. Such touring had provided a start to a possible career which unfortunately never came to anything due to the tragedy.
For the next few years the band soldiered on, breaking into the Long Island disco circuit, and making the transition from R&B to pure disco. In fact, by all accounts, the band had appeared on Gregg Diamond's 1977 LP, Bionic Boogie, which also featured Gregg Diamond, Lance Quinn, Steve Love, Jim Gregory, Alan Schwartzburg (note the Peter Criss connection, there's another even later!), Jimmy Moelin, amongst other studio musicians. The band definitely appeared live throughout that period billed as "Bionic Boogie", and it is more likely that this is where the Bionic Boogie connection comes from rather than the album having any connection with Eric as a "player". A notable location where the band played was at the Miami Convention Center, Walt Disney World, though they also played at various other discotheques. This was merely a result of the popularity of Bionic Boogie who had had hits with "Risky Changes" and "Cream (Always Rises To The Top)", two songs which had been mentioned on one of the Bionic Boogie posters appearing with Eric's band picture. The impersonation of MN/FT allowed the band's "name" to be in two places at once, notably since Bionic Boogie was essentially a studio collection of session players. According to Eric's 1980 resume, some clarity can be found for the Bionic Boogie connection, "during this time the band did some road work as 'Bionic Boogie' a Gregg Diamond disco studio band" (Res'80).
Though things for Eric in the late 1970's were pretty much down hill, he and the band continued to persevere. In the summer of 1979 Mother Nature/Father Time recorded an album for the Casablanca Record label (Casablanca NBLP-7170), under the stage name, Lightning. This, contrary to popular belief, was not attributed to "Bionic Boogie". No mention of that name was made anywhere on the packaging on the album, nor was the album called "Disco Symphony" or "Lightning Disco Symphony", it was simply called "Lightning: Lightning". Promotional copies were released around October/November 1979, and a very limited number of regular release versions came out soon around the same time. Additionally, a promotional 12" single featuring the tracks "Disco Symphony" and "Baby, Without Your Love" (NBD-20205DJ) was released around this time as well. Circulation of this album is still very unclear and very small, with Eric stating in interviews, "that only 5 or 6" copies existed.... Copies of this promotional album were pressed by both Casablanca and PolyGram (On a personal note, I know of 23 copies in circulation outside of the band/family members and have owned 14 copies myself! A box of 20 sealed copies was located in a New York warehouse in early 2000). When asked if fans might have a chance to find the album somewhere, he shot back, "there better not be" (BD p116), yet Eric really didn't have anything to be embarrassed about even though the material does kind of clash with the sort of material he would later become famous for playing. The other three songs on the album were: "In And Out Of Love", "I Love The Way You Love You", and "One Step At A Time". All of the songs were written by the band members though Eric did not contribute to any of the song-writing (at least he was not credited for doing so) while he appeared on all of the tracks on drums and singing background-vocals.
FORGING A NEW PATH ACCIDENTALLY!
By late 1979 disco craze was also already starting to die off from it's high moment of 1977, though this didn't have an effect on Eric's appearance: "I was probably the only disco drummer on the face of the earth with long hair; a big mustache, 'John Lennon' glasses, playing double bass drums" (BD).... In December 1979 Eric joined a 4 piece power-rock combo, called Flasher, who were doing rock cover songs around the New York area. Apparently, this was a particularly sad period for Eric, who had become unsure about his musical future after more than a decade of effort and was left with the option of continuing to attempt to make it or settle down to the more mundane task of finding a non-musical career with which to pay the bills. In March 1980, the keyboard player, Paul Turino, in the band quit, though Flasher continued for some time as a trio.
Yet it was a chance meeting with this former keyboard player at club in Queens, called Poets, where Flasher were going to be performing, in May/June 1980, where Eric was given the idea to audition for KISS who had recently announced the departure of Peter Criss. Eric had, at this time already given notice that he intended to quit Flasher, who were still trying to break into the Long Island rock scene, and the former keyboardist suggested that he audition for KISS. While Eric didn't believe the guy at first he went out and bought Unmasked the following day and started to put his "press-kit" together after deciding that he had nothing to lose by sending it in to the band.
Finally, on June 18th, one day late, a procrastinating Paul Caravello submitted his press kit to Aucoin Management. In this package, Eric stresses his versatility, stating, "Instrument: Drums. I play double bass style. Also I can play guitar, bass, some keyboards, and harmonica... My drumming style ranges from heavy metal and hard rock to pop and new wave. I can adapt to most situations easily. My influences are John Bonham, Keith Moon, Lenny White, and others" (Res'80). In order to get his package noticed he housed it in a bright orange folder, a tactic which was successful when the secretary picks it up first out of a stack of submissions.
Making it through this first barrier he is offered an interview with Bill Aucoin, at his Madison Avenue offices, the following day at noon where he is immediately told that he should shave his mustache if he wants KISS to even consider him. Meeting the prerequisites of playing a double-bass style and having good vocal abilities, the following day Eric is offered an audition with KISS for Monday, June 23rd at 1:30pm. He is also told to learn 5 songs for the audition, "Black Diamond", "Firehouse", "Strutter", "Is That You?" and "Detroit Rock City". It is a very nervous Eric who shows up for his audition with KISS, though the audition, which is videoed by the band, goes well and a "vibe" is apparent as they perform songs, once the confusion of live versus studio recorded drumming is sorted out (Eric had learned the album versions of the songs while the band was used to performing the live versions which differed slightly, notably with the tempo with which they were performed!). Eric leaves, content with how the audition has gone, but not before getting the band's autographs, just in case he never sees them again!
After a few tense days of waiting Eric is informed that as of July 1st he is officially a member of the band. Unfortunately, Eric is not available to answer the phone directly so a message is left on his sister, Loretta's answering machine! Finally, though what a way to find out that you'd been accepted into an established world famous band! After 15 years of struggling Paul Caravello has made it, and become the drummer for one of the biggest rock bands in the World, something he would not have anticipated just a couple of months earlier when he was questioning his future in music. But why was he chosen? KISS had auditioned many drummers to fill Peter's position, many of whom were big names in the industry. Regardless, KISS took the view that which Eric's skills were perfect for the position, his anonymity was an even bigger bonus for perpetuating the unknown backgrounds of band members.
Eric recalled in a 1982 Discoveries Magazine, that before joining KISS, "I was starving, that's what I was doing. I was in a three piece band and I had just given them my notice because the band was going nowhere. For the first time in my 14 or 15 years as a professional musician, I had no other prospects. I was in a pretty desperate situation. I auditioned for KISS Tuesday, the next Monday I was in the band"! Paul was a bit more direct about why Eric had been chosen, "It was really important to us that we got somebody who was Unknown... We didn't want somebody who last week was in Rod Stewarts's band or in Rainbow. If you're a member of Kiss, you were born to be a member of Kiss... Before you even get to play with us you had to be interviewed, because if we auditioned everybody who wanted to try out we'd still be auditioning people today". Gene, oddly, in the same interview, managed a more amusing look at why Eric had been chosen, stating, "He was a bum in the street, he was drinking and we felt sorry for him. But he was wearing high heels, so we knew there was hope"
THE HAWK WELL, NEARLY!
As a member of KISS the first thing Paul had to do was change his name to help mask his background. KISS had wanted an "unknown" to help perpetuate the myth surrounding the members of the band, so Paul chose the name "Eric Carr" as it "spoke well" when saying all of the band members names - a much better choice than the originally considered "Rusty Blades" which would have just been a bit too hilarious to take seriously, so Eric used this as his alias on the European "Unmasked" Tour. Then came the more difficult task of coming up with a character. While Bill Aucoin or possibly Paul Stanley had created the infamous "Hawk" costume, which was better in concept than reality, it became rapidly apparent that such an idea was not suitable, and that is indeed putting it lightly! Eric then started sketching ideas and came up with "The Fox", and got Gene's approval, using a basic costume to complete the look. While Gene liked the idea, Eric thought that it suited him well, and with only a couple of weeks until his live debut with the band he had to come up with something quickly! Eric designed his makeup while the band was in rehearsals for their only US live appearance that year. Eric could then get on with the task of learning the material he'd have to perform in New York, and on the upcoming European Tour.
Finally on July 22 came the official announcement of Eric's induction into the band, stating "... After weeks of suspense that had rock 'n' roll fans all over the world clinging to the edge of their seats in anticipation, KISS have finally announced that 27 year-old Eric Carr has been named and the band's new drummer. Known for his cunning, crafty way with rock 'n roll rhythms, Eric will perform in stage in the guise of a fox. A Brooklyn native and veteran of several New York-area bands, Eric was chose from among 30 drummers who auditioned for the coveted role of becoming the fourth member of KISS. Eric, a/k/a the Fox, will debut in concert with KISS at the Palladium in New York on Friday, July 25th". And that was that! Eric's age was dropped by two years to further confuse those who might like to "blow" his past, though this did happen very quickly with the passports of the members being found and copied while they were on tour in Europe later that year, though this seems to have never filtered down to the fans.
And the rest is history... Well, not quite! Eric was properly introduced to KISS fans in the official KISS Army News Letter, stating, "thousands of demo tapes were submitted. But only a few hundred musicians were permitted to audition for the KISS drummer opening. Endless hours of frustration went into the search for a replacement for Peter. Needless to say, it seemed hopeless to find someone worthy of his spot on the stage. Then Eric Carr appeared. It was apparent before he even sat down that there was something special about him. He had a larger-than-life presence that went far beyond his foxy looks. The room became quiet. Ace put down the controls to his remote rocket. Paul leaned forward expectantly. Gene's tongue motioned Eric towards the drum set. He picked up the sticks and knocked the ceiling off the room. He's the hottest drummer, the most exciting discovery in the rock and roll world since KISS itself" (KISS Army News). Flowery rhetoric, perhaps, but fans would soon discover that Eric could destroy! Soon after the conclusion of the Unmasked Tour in December 1980, the band started to think about work on their new album, at which point they had no idea that it would become a concept album. One of the first tracks Eric recorded as a member of KISS was the superb "Deadly Weapons" which remains unreleased to this day. What was immediately apparent was that Eric brought a new dimension to the KISS sound, and his skill would make a sound as individual to the sound which KISS had had with Peter.
Less than a month after joining KISS, Eric's first performance with the band on July 25, 1980, at the Palladium in Manhattan went off without a hitch. Eric's costume and persona were in doubt less than 24 hours before the gig, as wardrobe manager Pixie Esmonde explains. "Erics outfit started out as a hawk, which they quickly decided looked too much like a canary. So we removed the feathers and switched it to a Fox persona with a leather jacket, little metal studs and silver fox fur that had been dyed orange..."
Eric's TV introduction to fans on Kids Are People too was somewhat less auspicious when host Michael Young asked one of the kids in the audience who their favorite member of KISS was, only to be answered "Peter Criss". He quickly skipped to another kid! The high point of the TV show would have to be some great live clips from the Palladium show which show Eric in his original makeup and the band in full fury. When asked how he felt about being in KISS, Eric responded, "it's great! It's like a dream come true for me... I just felt from the very beginning that it was going to happen to me, and that it was going to right. I wish that everybody, sometime in their life, could have an experience like this. That would be great" (Kids Are People Too). Through his years in the band, little would change Eric's outlook.
Following the one-off concert at the Palladium, KISS embarked on a six-week tour of Europe which began on August 24, 1980.
After the European tour, the band headed Down Under to the friendlier frontiers of Australia, where they were greeted with Beatlemania-like intensity. Thanks to the overwhelming success of the Unmasked album and number one single, Shandi, the group performed a series of sold-out shows in such locales as Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, and Melbourne. To this day, Kiss's 1980 tour of Australia is fondly remembered among the band as a career milestone.
Eric's first album with the group was 1981's Music From "The Elder", which marked yet another departure for the band, in a mystical art-rock direction. His contribution to the album, "Under the Rose", featured a Gregorian Chant-style chorus.
Carr is often cited by fans as a favorite among drummers in the band's history, for his intense playing style and incredible timing, which was radically different from the soft-by-comparison jazz-influenced technique of Criss. Carr's style is featured most prominently on 1982's Creatures of the Night.
Shortly after KISS completed their Creatures of the Night tour in South America, Paul, Gene, Eric and newest member Vinnie Vincent returned to the States to write material for the band's next album. Realizing that a chapter in KISStory was over, the band collectively decided it was time to discard the makeup and show the world a new, unmasked KISS for the 1980s.
When KISS had completed their 1983-1984 Euro-American tour supporting Lick It Up, the band had proven to its fans and to themselves that it was the music - not the makeup - that mattered most. Joined by Mark St. John after Vinnie Vincents departure, KISS entered the studio to begin recording on its next album, Animalize. Produced by Paul Stanley, the album was certified Platinum. However, KISS would soon be required to replace their lead guitarist once again as Mark St. John was stricken which Reiters Syndrome. Bruce Kulick would be brought in to fill the void left by the ailing St. John.
(Mark St. John)
As KISS completed their Animalize tour in March 1985, Bruce Kulick was made a permanent member of the band. Not since the days of the original KISS had the group felt so focused and unified.
When the Asylum tour concluded in April 1986, the band decided to take a break. After ten months of rest, Paul, Bruce, Eric and Gene regrouped in Los Angeles to begin recording Crazy Nights (originally titled Who Dares Wins).
Aside from his legendary drum skills, Eric was also a talented vocalist, and was given the chance to showcase that ability when the KISS classic "Beth" (originally vocalized by Peter Criss) was re-recorded for the 1988 compilation album Smashes, Thrashes & Hits. Eric recorded his version of the song using the same backing track as Criss, and reportedly sat on the same drum throne as Criss did to record the song.
As the 80s came to a close, KISS took another extended vacation before writing songs for their next album, Hot in the Shade. This album would mark Erics second time to sing lead vocals on an album, a song titled Little Caesar.
In an interview with fan magazine KISS Rocks, Eric had this to say when asked about the meaning of the title Little Caesar:
Well, the phrase has been around quite a while. It's also a pizza place somewhere! The term 'Little Caesar' is kind of about this little tough guy...a gangster who doesn't take shit from anybody. Now, Gene, from time to time, would call me that whenever I spoke out about something that I felt strongly about. So he'd say it as kind of an admiration nickname. I wanted the song to be sort of autobiographical, so it would be something that I would be convincing at singing, and that title just seemed to work.
Within months following the conclusion of the "Hot In The Shade" tour Eric's seeming lethargy developed into something more serious. Eric recalled how his health issues were discovered, "The week after Valentine's Day I got real sick. High fevers, coughing, the whole bit. I thought I had the flu. The following Saturday I went and had a chest x-ray because I thought I might have pneumonia. The x-ray was fine as far as my lungs were concerned, but it showed my heart cavity was enlarged. I was sent to a cardiologist and he did an echocardiogram and found that there was fluid around my heart. As it turns out... it wasn't fluid, it was blood. Fluid can build up in this area, due to a virus or infection, so it was assumed that was what it was". Initially Eric's doctors treated him for the fluid around his heart with a regimen of medication for this periocarditis. After three weeks of treatment Eric had improved slightly, though he recalled, "...I felt great. Still a little short of breath and I was still coughing up some blood every now and then. I went back for another echo. I wanted to make sure that there wasn't anything that I was going to have to tell the rest of the band about before we started recording the album. When I had the echo the fluid was almost gone at that point so the picture was really clear. The doctor was able to see what he thought he had seen on the first echo, but didn't tell me about because he wasn't sure. There was a tumor inside the right atrium of my heart. The part of it we were able to see at this point was about the size and shape of a persons pinky finger. It was flipping back and forth, in and out of the tricustis valve as it was opening and closing. For the next week or so it was test after test. We found out there were spots all over my lungs which we assumed were pieces of this thing breaking off. Finally we set up a date for surgery there was no way around it. The guys wanted me to come out to L.A. and do it so that they could be near me, but I went through so much shit trying to get everything together here in N.Y. that there was no way I could do it in L.A. When I went in to surgery I knew that there was more to it than just the pinky sized portion, that there was a larger mass that it was attached to. When I saw my surgeon again Sunday night, he told me that most of the atrium wall on that side was infected with this tumor including one of my coronary arteries. So all of that had to be cut away. They had to then resect with a piece of pericardium around the heart. So they got rid of everything and slapped me back together. I had the surgery Tuesday morning and I was out till Thursday on life support. By Thursday afternoon I was up walking around and Friday I felt great. I was just sore from the incision"
In some ways Eric took a proud view of his warrior scars, at least mental since he'd had a plastic surgeon close the incision to minimize any actual scaring, resulting from the surgery and the whole situation surrounding his life at the time. In more of the interview with Andy Martin Jr., Eric took an informational role about his condition, "I also just found out that it's rare that this was on the right side of my heart rather than the left. If this same tumor was on the left side, with pieces of it breaking off it would have gone straight to my brain, rather than my lungs, and probably killed me and at least paralyzed me. So I'm really lucky that it was on the side it was. It all sounds pretty nasty, but here I am. I've got an 11 inch scar on my chest. I'm ready to get laid I want to go out. I really do)
By mid-April Eric was apparently on the mend recuperating from the severe surgery he'd undergone. KISS, on the other hand, were gearing up to record their next album plus a track for a forthcoming movie soundtrack. While Gene and Paul had flown to New York to be supportive of Eric, the base of operations was Los Angeles, where they'd have preferred Eric to be. Eric remembers, "To get back to Gene and Paul. They came out, I told them they didn't have to, but they wanted to. Originally they wanted me to come out to L.A. just so they could be near me all the time, just for the moral support. It's important in all operations, but especially heart surgery. I had already done so much work here in N.Y. finding a surgeon and getting everything rolling, that there was no way I was going to try and start all over out there. The surgeon I got was probably the best in the country if not one of the best in the world. He was one of the original team from Texas that perfected the open heart surgery technique way back in the 70's. I was real lucky to have this guy. It just didn't make any sense to try and do it in L.A. I really had to get in the hospital, time was ticking fast, with the pieces breaking off into my lungs. So I had to get the fucking thing out of my body. So Paul and Gene flew to New York"
(Gene, Eric & Paul)
One of the last songs that Eric Carr would write seems to build heavily from his situation with his illness, "Just like the elephant man / Nothing's changed inside / People don't seem the same / They smile with fear in their eyes" (Eric Carr).
During the first recovery Eric was well enough to join the rest of the band in the studio recording "God Gave Rock And Roll To You II" in April 1991. This song, reworked from the original Argent track by Gene, Paul, and Bob Ezrin, would be the last song Eric Carr would be involved with as a member of KISS.
Because of Eric's condition former Paul Stanley Solo band drummer Eric Singer was brought in to cover for Carr on drums. Eric Carr would provide the vocal harmonizing on the song, a somewhat ironic occurrence considering how long it took him as a member of the band to provide lead vocals on a recorded cut But it was at least good that Eric was featured in the recording of the song no matter how frustrating it must have been for him not to have been drumming.
Regardless of whether he wanted to drum, Eric wasn't ready, and he recalled, "I would like to have played, and I feel good enough to play, but the bones in my chest are not healed. So I can't do it, no matter how I feel because the fact of the matter is that I have unhealed bones in my chest, and I have to let them heal, and that takes a couple of months".
By late-May/ early June 1991 Eric discovered that the cancer had spread to his lungs and that further chemotherapy treatment would be necessary. "On June 9 Eric began chemotherapy at memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute in New York while the rest of the band began putting material together for the next album in Los Angeles. As the band began rehearsing for the album, Eric Singer was brought back in to record on the album although Eric Carr had returned to Los Angeles after six weeks of successful chemotherapy". While Eric believed that he was recovered enough to participate in the album sessions the band continued working without him in hopes that he could rest and get 100% better. There was no talk, during the summer, of Eric being replaced though there is little doubt that Eric feared for his position.
During the summer the video for "God Gave Rock And Roll To You II" was filmed in Los Angeles, on July 27-28, 1991. Eric is well enough to participate in the strenuous filming of the video and later "took great pride in telling people of how he had played on drums for twelve hours during the filming of the 'God Gave Rock And Roll To You II' video and did not have any problems. He felt strong, felt good about the chemotherapy and had been told that his lungs were healing incredibly fast".
In September 1991 Eric was well enough to attend the MTV Music Video Awards on the 14th, but just two days later he suffered a brain hemorrhage, the first of two he'd suffer. By October 1991 Eric's situation was severe. Gene recalled, "Eric, as far as I know is still unconscious and has been for a very long time". At this point Gene would be asked about the prospect of Eric rejoining KISS, to which Gene solemnly responded, "I don't think so. Our main priority is Eric's health, we are all praying for him"). Regardless, following his initial hemorrhage Eric once again battled his health and seemed to recover so that he was moved to a rehabilitation hospital. Unfortunately, again the body defeated the will power, and in early November Eric had the second of his brain hemorrhages.
THE HAWK TAKES FLIGHT
On Sunday 24th November 1991 drummer Eric Carr died of cancer at Bellevue Hospital. The UK Phonogram press release from November 28th states, "he is survived by his mother, father, and two sisters, he was single and lived in Manhattan, he had a malignant heart tumor in May and he underwent chemotherapy. He went into remission in August, in September he had his first of two cerebral hemorrhages. At the end of September he was checked into Bellevue Hospital and he stayed there until his death". The day before Eric died Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury died of HIV complications. This additional rock death overshadowed Eric's own passing, though it was reported through many news sources, including Rockline who on their November 25th show with Genesis announced, "also on a sad note, we lost another rocker, yesterday - KISS drummer Eric Carr, and we send our condolences to his family and friends as well" (Rockline).
Without doubt KISS fans were in shock at the events of the year and the remaining band members had little to say in public concerning Eric's death. Paul, who had been on holiday in Hawaii at the time of Eric's death touchingly said, "I think everybody can understand, without going into detail that it was a tremendous shock, and incredible loss, and going into it further is not something that I really want to share. It kind of cheapens something that's mine".
As a tribute, the group's 1992 release Revenge featured what is said to be the only drum solo Carr ever recorded with the band, which was titled "Carr Jam 1981".
Eric was laid to rest at Cedar Hill Mausoleum in Middlehope, New York on November 30th following a funeral service at St. Joseph's Church in Middleton, NY officiated by Father John Holigan. A second service of memorial was held on January 6,, 1992 at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood for fans on the West coast who had not had a chance to offer their prayers in Eric's memory. Bruce Kulick and his wife Christine attended as did Eric's former girlfriend Carrie Stevens.
On July 25, 1995, fifteen years to the day that Eric Carr debuted with KISS at the Palladium, he was posthumously inducted into the Rock Walk in Los Angeles. Eric's parents represented their son in the ceremony. Ace Frehley was also inducted at the same ceremony. No other members of KISS attended.
In the years since his death the real fans have never forgotten Erics contribution to the band and if anything his following has grown. In fact, this has been savored by fans who have kept his memory alive through projects like Tony Mal's Radio Tribute and Kathy La Bonte's K.A.O.L. tribute project. "In late 1992, WCWP/88.1 FM commemorated the first anniversary of Eric Carr's passing with the broadcast of its most ambitious rock special to date, The Memorial Tribute. Originating as a previously unavailable Hot In The Shade interview from 1989, which itself had received coverage in the 'East Coast Rocker' and other publications, The Memorial Tribute evolved into a thoroughly researched, engaging biographical expose, chronicling the life of Eric Carr and his tenure in the greatest rock 'n roll band of all time". This was an amazing tribute which would have done Eric proud. The KAOL project took (and takes) a different track raising money for cancer charities in Eric's name through the recording and release of tribute albums. With the release of the Cellarmen tracks on two of the KAOL CDs the projects (which have notably reached their goal of raising $5000 for donation to Children's Hospital Of Wisconsin, where a plaque will be raised as a memorial for Eric), even though they had been part of the memorial tribute, have done much in the name of Eric Carr. In recent years even more material has been released which show the pure talent of the man. Both the Rockhead's EP and Rockology CD showcase Eric's songwriting both for KISS and his own projects and demonstrate material that was sadly not used by KISS. Most recently fans have been given the excellent Jack Sawyer's "Tale Of The Fox" video which showcases material from the Caravello family and Bruce Kulick's collection.