(July 12th 1950 - November 24th 1991)
Birth Name: Paul Charles Caravello
Born: July 12, 1950 - Brookyln, New York
Died: November 24, 1991 - New York, New York
Cause Of Death: Cancer
Following two albums that alienated many fans with their departure in style (1979's Dynasty and 1980's Unmasked), and a falling-out with Peter Criss over his substance abuse problems and unreliability, Kiss held open auditions for a new drummer. Criss had not recorded an entire studio album with Kiss since 1977's Love Gun.
Paul Caravello was working as an oven repair man when Peter Criss left Kiss. Caravello, who had been playing in cover bands throughout the 1970s, was told by former Flasher bandmate Paul Torino, that he should audition for Kiss. Taking his advice, Caravello purchased a copy of Unmasked to get information on getting in touch with Kiss's management, and after submitting an application (a day after the deadline), he met with Kiss manager Bill Aucoin who advised Caravello to shave off his mustache for the audition for fear the band "wouldn't be able to see past it". Along with the application, Caravello submitted a cassette tape of Kiss's current single "Shandi" but with his vocals over the music instead of Paul Stanley's. "It sounded great!" he enthused years later in a fanzine interview.
At the time of his successful audition, Caravello was repairing stoves with his father for a living, while playing drums in a variety of bands. He was the last drummer to audition for the band and actually asked Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley for autographs, in case he never saw them again. "But I knew I had it", he told a fanzine in 1990. According to Caravello, his audition was videotaped.
After passing the audition, the band had some trouble coming up with a character persona and a stage name. Caravello originally considered going by the name "Rusty Blades," until he decided on Eric Carr, noting that Peter Criss' name was two syllables followed by a single syllable, the inverse of the other three band members' names. He decided to make his stage name sound the same rhythmically as Peter Criss' when people said all four names together. 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 remained his legal name.
For his Kiss persona, Carr was first made up as "The Hawk," which he didn't like, and later adopted the persona of "The Fox", with his makeup design reflecting the character. Carr was also part of the band's well-publicized removal of their stage makeup in 1983 live on MTV network. "I thought the band was ending, and they weren't telling me," he told a fanzine editor in June, 1990.
Carr's first album with Kiss was 1981's Music From "The Elder", which marked a departure for the band in a mystical art-rock direction. One of his contributions to the album, "Under the Rose", featured a Gregorian chant-style chorus. Later, he would also have co-writer credits on "All Hell's Breakin' Loose," "Under the Gun," and "No, No, No," amongst others.
Carr was influenced by John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and Ringo Starr of The Beatles. Carr idolized Starr when he first saw The Beatles; photographs of him during his high school years show him wearing his hair like the Beatles drummer. His interest in double bass drumming came from his admiration of Ginger Baker. Carr also had a love of all types of music as songwriter Adam Mitchell once described Carr as knowing a lot about folk, R&B, and other non-rock styles.
Besides drumming, Carr also played guitar, bass guitar, piano and sang background vocals. Occasionally he sung lead vocals, such as "Black Diamond" and "Young and Wasted" live with Kiss. His first lead vocal in the studio was when the classic Kiss track "Beth" (originally sung by Peter Criss) was re-recorded for the 1988 compilation album Smashes, Thrashes & Hits. Carr 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. In 1989 he sang lead vocal on a self-penned, studio track titled "Little Caesar," (originally called "Ain't That Peculiar") from Hot in the Shade. Carr's last live performance with Kiss was November 9, 1990 in New York City, at Madison Square Garden.
Gene Simmons, the Kiss bassist, has stated that Carr's harder drumming style pushed Kiss into becoming a heavier band than when Peter Criss, a jazz-inspired drummer, was the band's drummer.
Following the tour for the album Hot in the Shade, Carr began having problems with his health. Diagnosed with an unexpectedly serious and extremely rare condition, heart cancer, he underwent surgeries to remove tumors in his right atrium and lungs in an effort to restore heart function and prevent the cancer's growth. It was after aggressive treatment that the cancer went into remission, and Carr's health began to improve. However, not long afterwards he suffered from an aneurysm, and was rushed into hospital. He recovered from this, but it was only a matter of days before he was subject to a brain hemorrhage, caused by cancer cells transported in his bloodstream to the head. Carr died on November 24, 1991, at the age of 41. Carr's death may have been overshadowed by the loss of Queen front man Freddie Mercury on the same date.
Carr is interred in Cedar Hill Cemetery in the Town of Newburgh, New York.
Carr's last recording with Kiss was for the song "God Gave Rock 'N Roll To You II", which featured him on backing vocals. His health had deteriorated to the point where he was unable to play drums for the recording session, and ex-Black Sabbath drummer Eric Singer (who had played previously in Paul Stanley's solo band) was brought in, though Carr appeared in the video for the song.
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, titled "Carr Jam 1981", a jam session recorded for the Music From "The Elder" sessions (Frehley's original guitar part was overdubbed by Bruce Kulick). Much of the soloing was seasoned during Kiss' 1980 Unmasked Tour of Europe & Australia and put down during The Elder sessions since that album was recorded following that tour. Revenge was also dedicated to Carr. He was also homaged on the Kiss My Ass video as well as Kiss Anthology 2. However, the band declined a tribute concert that was requested by numerous fans the year after his passing, claiming that "our hearts just wouldn't be in it"
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 approximately 3 hours, the tribute featured a rebroadcast 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 make-up, 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).
Carr was inducted into the Rock Walk Hall of Fame at Guitar Center in Hollywood, CA. Carr's parents as well as former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley accepted on his behalf.
Also, on numerous solo tours since Eric'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 Eric , who Ace hopes is "Checking out the show up there".
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.