KISS was the very first band that I absolutely loved. The mystique and mystery, the bombast and bigness, the music and the makeup. WOW.
So, when KISS began to splinter and Peter Criss left/was fired, I was very upset. KISS was over for me. Until they found this dude named Eric Carr and recorded CREATURES OF THE NIGHT, a much needed return to the bombast that is KISS. The drums sounded massive, especially on I Love It Loud and War Machine. Two heavy as hell KISS classics. I was back and so were KISS. Thank you Eric Carr, in my opinion your discovery saved KISS from fading into the territory of FOREIGNER in the 80’s.
I still recall the moment I heard of Eric’s death. I was driving up a steep hill and out of a little town (Stannards) near my hometown of Wellsville, NY radio cranking. This was November 1991 in the days before the internet, email, and social networking. The 24 hour news cycle that we live in today was just getting established after The Gulf War coverage by CNN. Therefore, I had no clue that Eric was sick, I don’t think any of us hard rock and KISS fans were even vaguely aware of any trouble in the KISS camp let alone one of them being seriously ill. In those days the invincibility of our youth was still clinging to it’s one last thread of hope. I was still a huge KISS fan too having seen them live twice in the last three years. So, when the song set ended and the I heard the DJ came on in a somber voice to pass along the news say that Eric had died at the age of 41 after a battle with cancer it felt like someone punched me in the chest. I began to tear up so badly that I had to pull over to the side of the road and compose myself.
Yeah Mr. Carr, I’d say you meant something in my life and still do mean a lot.
A brand new collection of Eric’s work was just released yesterday, November 8, 2011, to coincide with the 20th Anniversary of his death. Eric Carr was KISS drummer for over 11 years and most consider him not only the best KISS drummer ever, but one of the best hard rock and heavy metal drummers in history. Carr is still an influence on drummers and rock fans. This special release features 17 rare Eric Carr recordings, including unreleased music, live performances, interview clips and more. Guests include members and former members of KISS, TWISTED SISTER, SEETHER, ZO2, EUROPE and others.
In February 1991, while recording the song “God Gave Rock N Roll To You II”, Carr began feeling ill, coughing up blood and feeling heaviness in the chest. Medical tests revealed what at first appeared to be manageable problems with his health.
However, he was diagnosed with an unexpectedly serious and extremely rare type of cancer – heart cancer. In April 1991, 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. He recovered sufficiently to fly to Los Angeles in July 1991 to be with the band to play drums for their music video “God Gave Rock n’ Roll To You.”His health had deteriorated to the point where he was unable to play drums for the recording session, and Eric Singer (who had played previously in Paul Stanley’s solo band) was brought in. After filming the video, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, and Bruce Kulick told him to go home and get well. After aggressive treatment, the cancer went into remission and Carr’s health appeared to improve.
Carr’s last public appearance with Kiss was at the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1991. Not long afterwards he suffered from an aneurysm and was rushed to a hospital. He survived this episode, but it was only a matter of days before he suffered a brain hemorrhage caused by cancer cells transported in his bloodstream to the head, and never regained consciousness.
The day, November 24, 1991, of Eric’s death is still one of the saddest in rock music history as it was the same day QUEEN’S Freddie Mercury died.
In keeping with Carr’s accessibility to his fans, his family decided to open his funeral service to the public, while reserving the interment as a private event. The funeral procession to the cemetery was very long, with New York State troopers making sure fans did not enter the cemetery for the interment. Carr is interred in Cedar Hill Cemetery in the Town of Newburgh, New York.
Former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick, along with Carr’s family, released Carr’s first and only solo album in 1999 titled Rockology, which featured many demos that Kulick and Carr worked on together (along with songwriter and friend Adam Mitchell). The CD features several songs with Carr on lead vocals as well as on bass guitar, along with Kulick on guitars and Mitchell assisting Carr with many of the background vocals. This album includes “Somebody’s Waiting” and “Tiara”, a song that he originally wrote for his planned children’s cartoon show called Rockheads, a rock band parody featuring four characters (Slider, Clive, Scruffy and Punky) with different characteristics and personalities.
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, entitled “Carr Jam 1981”, a jam session recorded for the Music From “The Elder” sessions (former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley‘s original guitar part was overdubbed by Bruce Kulick). Much of the soloing was seasoned during Kiss’ 1980 Unmasked Tour of Europe and Australia, and put down during The Elder sessions, since that album was recorded following that tour. Sadly enough, Carr had for years been trying to get his hands on a copy of the solo for his personal collection, but his request was always rebuffed by Bob Ezrin with the excuse that he did not know where the masters for the session were. Once Carr died, however, the solo surfaced as “Carr Jam 1981”.
The Revenge album was dedicated to Carr. He was also homaged on the Kiss My Ass video, as well as Kissology 2. However, the band declined a tribute concert that was requested by a circle of fans the year after his passing. Simmons stated, “We didn’t want to do a tribute concert. We are dedicating the album to his name, but no concerts in his name. It’s not our style.”
A further tribute was produced in 1992, called Eric Carr: The Memorial Tribute. It was first broadcast live on 88.1 FM / WCWP, where Carr had been interviewed 3 years earlier while doing press for the Hot in the Shade album. Running for approximately 3 hours, the tribute featured a re-broadcast of the interview, interspersed with biographical information and details of Carr’s extracurricular projects, along with all the officially-released songs Carr had written or co-written. Though broadcast just once, Eric Carr: The Memorial Tribute was released several years later (seemingly in an unofficial capacity) as a 2-tape box set, designed to resemble the Kiss solo albums. It featured a newly-commissioned painting of Carr in his fox makeup, patterned after the rarely-seen original by Eraldo Carugati (the artist who did the paintings for the original four Kiss solo album covers, plus one of Carr that was never officially released).
Fifteen years to the day of Carr’s Kiss debut, he was posthumously inducted into the Rock Walk Hall of Fame at Guitar Center in Hollywood, CA.Carr’s parents, Albert and Connie Caravello, accepted a plaque in Carr’s honor. Former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley was inducted in the “Rock Walk” during the same ceremony. Frehley’s handprint was not added to the Kiss display. Carr’s acknowledgment was a bronze plaque with his name, utograph and a separate icon of the Fox makeup he wore. Both were added to the Kiss display. Also, on numerous solo tours since Carr’s death, Ace Frehley would play “Breakout” (with lyrics written by Carr and Frehley and later re-recorded as “Carr Jam ’81” on Kiss’ Revenge album) and dedicate it to Carr, whom Frehley hopes is “checking out the show up there”. Frehley also dedicated his 2009 solo album Anomaly to Carr.
In July 2005, Carr was voted in tenth place for the world’s best drummer by Planet Radio Rock. No other member of Kiss was given the distinction of making the top 10 in the categories of vocalist, bassist or guitarist. Carr was only the second American drummer to make the list, with all others being either British or Canadian.
There is a hidden ‘easter egg‘ in the 2007 Kissology II DVD collection (on disc three at the end of the production credits) showing a family videotape made of Eric, on his hospital bed, speaking into the camera thanking his fans for their cards, letters, and concern about his health. Dressed in white, Carr then exits the bed, and begins walking away only to return and moon the camera in rock n’ roll style.
In 2011, to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Eric’s passing, a tribute concert was held in Atlanta, GA called Night of the Fox: The ERIC CARR Tribute Concert. The main act, going under the name Little Caesar, played a 90-minute set of songs related to Eric Carr. Made up mostly KISS songs from Eric’s time in the band, the show also featured a song from Rockology (“Eyes of Love”) plus songs written or co-written by Carr but recorded by other artists.
THANKS FOR THE GREAT MUSIC ERIC. CRANK THIS WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY UP!