Enter The Fox: An Interview with Loretta Carr

2 0
Read Time:16 Minute, 52 Second
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is thumbnail_Original-Logo-899x1024.png

Eric Carr during a Ludwig promotional shoot, in the late 1980s.

Most KISS fans know and love legendary drummer, Eric Carr.

Eric’s inspiring story of hard work and determination is cemented in Rock ‘N’ Roll lore. After spending the 1970s moving from band to band, and rounding out the decade repairing stoves with his father, in 1980, Eric Carr was granted the chance of a lifetime in the form of an audition with The Hottest Band In The World– KISS.

It was an opportunity which Eric would not waste, and within weeks Eric hit the ground running and first took the stage as a member of KISS with Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, and Ace Frehley, on July 25, 1980, at The Palladium in his hometown of New York City. Any trepidation Eric may have felt was fleeting, as his bombastic, Heavy Metal style of drumming was immediately embraced by adoring KISS fans, who by the end of the evening were reportedly chanting his name as he searingly ripped through “Black Diamond” for the first time.

As the 1980s rolled on, many trends and band members would come and go. Still, Eric faithfully manned the drums for KISS, and was an integral part of the band’s Gold and Platinum-selling success on albums such as Music From “The Elder,” Killers, Creatures of the Night, Lick It Up, Animalize, Asylum, Crazy Nights, Smashes, Thrashes, and Hits, and Hot In The Shade.

As the decade drew to a close and rolled over into the 90s, Eric was on the road with KISS for the 123-date Hot In The Shade Tour, which came to an end in New York City, at Madison Square Garden, on November 11th, 1990. Just over ten years after his first show with KISS, this would ironically, and sadly be Eric’s last show with the band.

Just a few short months later, in February of 1991, Eric was diagnosed with heart cancer, which he valiantly fought until his passing on November 24th, 1991, at the young age of 41. Eric’s final moments with KISS will forever be memorialized by his performance in the band’s video for “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II,” in which he also contributed backing vocals too as well.

While Eric Carr may be gone, he will never be forgotten. His impact on, and legacy within KISS, and on Hard Rock music, in general, is still felt to this day. Most KISS fans will know and remember that Eric Carr was not only a phenomenal drummer but a fantastic person as well. I suspect as we move forward, his impact and influence as one of the hardest-hitting drummers of his era will only be celebrated more and more retrospectively.

It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to chat with Eric Carr’s sister, Loretta, who is the keeper and administrator of all things Eric Carr. Loretta’s unique and truly singular perspective on her brother’s life and career tells a story that is both moving and endearing. I would also like to thank Mechel Pava for her assistance and hard work, without her this would not have been possible.

Keep an eye out for the new documentary on Eric Carr, Enter The Fox, which has tons of never-before-seen footage, and new information about Eric which his fans will not want to miss. In the meantime, dig into this interview with Loretta Carr. Cheers.

Andrew:
Loretta, I appreciate you taking the time today. How have you been holding up over the last year or so? What have you been up to?

Loretta:
I am working on projects for Eric, taking care of my Dad, and going with the flow.

Andrew:
You being Eric’s sister must have a unique insight into Eric the person. A lot is known about Eric the drummer through his time with KISS, but I wanted to touch on who Eric was before his time in KISS. What do you recall about Eric’s younger days? What led him to the drums?

Loretta:
He loved The Beatles. He wanted to be like The Beatles. He wanted to be like Ringo Starr. The whole family were musicians, and he just kept going and going. He had a love for music like no other and worked very hard at it. He was a typical brother to us. We laughed, we cried, we played. He just worked harder than anyone I had ever seen. He really wanted it.

Andrew:
Much is made of Eric’s rise to stardom with KISS, but I wanted to go back and touch on his early band, Salt & Pepper, which later became Bionic Boogie. I’ve read that Eric and the band even opened for acts such as Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone. Can you dig into this a bit more with us?

Loretta:
My brother’s first band was The Cellarmen, in 1967. He went to see a band called Things That Go Bump in the Night that was a garage band for two or three months. Then in 1969, he went with a friend to see a band called Salt & Pepper. Later he played with them at the Academy of Music in 1972, headlining Nina Simone and Patty Labelle, and there are actually recordings of that concert. He then went into a band called Creation.

Eric Carr on the move during KISS’ Animalize Tour, in 1984. Image courtesy of EricCarr.com.

Andrew:
One of the things that I always hear about when it comes to Eric is who he was as a person. I’ve never seen or heard anyone say a bad thing about him, really. One story I’ve heard which particularly stood out to me was one where Salt & Pepper were playing a gig in Gulliver’s Nightclub, and a fire broke out. My understanding is that Eric actually risked his own life to save at least one other person from that fire. Is there any truth to this story?

Loretta:
Yes. The girl he saved is the lead singer of Creation, Sarita Squires. She is present all of the time on the internet. I talked to her a lot. My brother had a towel over his drums. It was an American Flag towel. He put it over her head, and he pulled her through the kitchen. Sarita told me that she was going the other way, and Eric said, “No you must come this way.” My brother had an amazing memory; he remembered everything. It affected him so much that the first thing he would do when the band played a venue was to check for the fire exits. And by the way, we still have the towel. He saved it along with the shirt he wore that night.

Andrew:
Now, regarding Eric’s big break with KISS, the legend goes that Eric was repairing stoves at the time, and he was basically ready to give up on music as a career. Take me through that period in Eric’s life leading up to his audition with KISS. What was his mindset like at the time?

Loretta:
He was very frustrated because no matter what he did nothing was gelling. He would go from one band to another. Just when they thought things were good, they would turn out bad. He would never ever give up music. He was repairing stoves with my father during the day, rehearsing and playing at night. He would never give up his music no matter what happened. Frustrated? Yes, he would get upset, but he would always get going.

Andrew:
More on auditioning for KISS. What’s the true story of how Eric landed the audition? How did he get hooked up with KISS? Once he auditioned, how did Eric feel he did? Was he confident that he got the gig? Finally, once he did land the gig with KISS, what was Eric’s reaction?

Loretta:
He was just told by someone in a club that KISS might be looking for a drummer. A lot of people saw it in the newspaper, and basically, like anyone else, he sent his résumé in. He sent it in a Neon Orange Envelope, and it helped him to get picked. Because it was such an attention-getter, the woman (Jayne Grodd Bronstein) who was in charge of reviewing the résumés saw the bright one and grabbed it. And that’s how it went; that was the process. He was extremely excited. One day you are fixing stoves, and the next you’re on stage with the biggest band in the world. I don’t have words to express his jubilation.

Eric Carr on tour with KISS during the Unmasked Tour, in 1980. Image courtesy of EricCarr.com.

Andrew:
Eric’s given name was Paul C. Caravello. I’ve always wondered, how did the name Eric Carr come about? What were Eric’s thoughts on changing his name, and also, how did he feel about wearing the fox makeup?

Loretta:
Well, he didn’t mind changing his name because you weren’t supposed to know the identity of the band. It was kind of a simple process. Everybody was giving him names, like Tyler and Martin, and his girlfriend at the time came up with the name Eric and Carr is just short for Caravello. He was fine with it.

Andrew:
At the time that Eric joined KISS, the band was in a bit of a commercial downswing, and they had just lost founding member Peter Criss. Now Eric was an entirely different person and drummer than Peter. I feel that he brought a true Heavy Metal edge to the band and instant legitimacy within that scene. Do you recall if Eric was nervous in regards to how he would fit into the band’s sound, or about how he would be received by the fans who may have been loyal to Peter?

Loretta:
My brother had enough confidence to know that he was really good. He auditioned with them, and they were comfortable with him the moment he played. He didn’t want to fill anyone’s shoes. He wanted to be his own persona, and he was. By the end of the Palladium concert, they were cheering, “Eric!” not, “Peter.” I was there, and I heard it. The chants were getting loud for Peter, and then the Eric chants started to drown them out until it was all Eric. All respect to Peter. No one can ever replace Peter. The band just needed to go on to the next level to continue.

Andrew:
I’ve always felt that bringing Eric Carr into the fold really was the true beginning of the resurgence of KISS. His work on Creatures of the Night is incredible, and it really is one of the best albums of the era. Looking back, how important do you feel Eric was to propelling KISS forward?

Loretta:
I think he was what kept them alive. It was not only the sound, it was his personality. There is more to an artist than the music. If you’re going to be a snob and distance yourself from the fans, you don’t really deserve to be there. My brother loved the fans. I remember him hanging out in front of the house with the fans, rather than going to a party. That’s what kind of guy he was. That’s where people lose touch. People started to love him, and the kids got to know him as one of the nicest guys in the world. And he loved them; that’s more important sometimes than the music.

Eric on tour with KISS during the 1982/1983 Creatures of the Night/10th Anniversary Tour.

Andrew:
I want to touch on the upcoming documentary, Enter the Fox. In my opinion, Eric is one of the better drummers of that era, yet his accomplishments and influence are perpetually underrated. What is the message of this upcoming documentary in regards to Eric? What do you hope the takeaway is for Eric’s fans?

Loretta:
I know he has always been understated, and KISS has been underrated, so that goes without saying. All one needs to do is check all the record sales and RIAA Gold and Platinum awards and you will understand the magnitude of the 80s KISS era. The take-away from my brother was, “Work hard, and your dream will come through. Don’t ever give up, and treat people the way you want to be treated. And that’s all you need to know, and you will succeed.”

The documentary picks up where the Tale of the Fox left off because that covered the beginning of his history and how he started. Now we pick up from where Eric enters the band. I’m going to tell you we are going to have some great new information that only his family knows and a few friends have seen. It’s going to be great; you are going to see footage that has never been seen before. I am not talking about just musical footage. I am talking about footage like you and your family would take– sightseeing while on tour, my brother’s birthday party. You are going to see some cool stuff and walk away saying, “Wow, these guys are pretty funny, besides talented.”

Andrew:
Looking back on Eric’s time with KISS, we know a lot about what we saw on the surface, but what was it like for Eric behind the scenes? It had to have been a major adjustment for him. What more can you tell us about Eric Carr the person once his fame and stardom grew during the 80s?

Loretta:
He wanted to contribute more like anyone else. All band members want to contribute more. People at work want to contribute more, and sometimes you can’t do that, and he understood that. He had some beautiful music that he wrote that wasn’t used by KISS. It wasn’t released but it is out now– Rockology and Unfinished Business— and it speaks for itself. Some fans think it should’ve been used. Maybe so, but he did his thing, and that’s all you can try for when you are in a band of that caliber.

Andrew:
Something I’ve always wondered about was why Eric was not allowed to sing more during his time in KISS. To my knowledge, he was allowed to sing “Black Diamond” in the live setting, he covered “Beth” for Smashes, Thrashes, and Hits, and he finally got an original track in “Little Caesar” on Hot in the Shade. Was that something that ever bothered Eric?

Eric:
That’s something you’d have to ask Gene or Paul. That’s something you’d have to ask any band when someone has a good voice. It’s up to the two people who are in charge of the band. Of course, he wanted to sing more. Who wouldn’t? But you have to go with the flow again. It’s the way life works.

Eric during a promotional shoot for KISS’ 1987 album, Crazy Nights.

Andrew:
Eric Carr was well known for his positive interactions with his peers and fans. Why was that element so important to Eric?

Loretta:
He wasn’t trying to get favor with the fans. He really liked people. I have kids telling me that they would talk to him for an hour. They would talk about college, and then five years later he would see them and say, “Hey, how did college work out?” He had a terrific memory. He didn’t just talk to you and walk away. He would remember your name; he absorbed everything you said. That’s pretty important. Some people walk away and don’t remember who you are five minutes later. He absorbed it all; he loved to know about someone’s life. That wasn’t fake. That was genuine, and you can’t work on that. It has to be there.

Andrew:
KISS was on the road for Hot in the Shade through 1990, and Eric sadly passed away only a year later in 1991. Did he have any idea that he was sick while he was on the road?

Loretta:
No.

Andrew:
KISS, unfortunately, had to move forward with Eric Singer while Eric was still alive (but sick). What were Eric’s thoughts on that?

Loretta:
He was hoping the band would wait for him, and he was optimistic he would get better, and the rest is history. I don’t know his exact thoughts.

Hard-hitting until the bitter end, Eric is pictured here during the filming of the video for “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II, in 1991.

Andrew:
My lasting image of Eric will be as one of the most powerful drummers in Rock and Metal History. Knowing that he performed in the “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You Too” video, under extreme duress as he did, will always be something of a legendary moment for him. Why was that so important to him?

Eric:
He wanted to be there. He rehearsed for that album in early January. He was part of the album [Revenge]. People who were on set said that he was, “Running rings around everyone.” Everyone wanted to go to sleep, and he wanted to keep going. He always wanted to keep going, and that’s how he was; he loved it. He had the energy. It was the love of music, the love of being a part of the band. We all find that extra special strength in ourselves when we love what we are doing.

Andrew:
Do you feel the reunion with Peter Criss would have happened had Eric Carr survived?

Loretta:
No, I don’t. I always had a vision that even if they did do it, it would be a “super show,” having Peter in the first half and my brother in the second half because you’d get the best of both worlds, and there would be no reason not to do it. It would have probably blown ticket sales off the charts. Who wouldn’t want to see that?

Andrew:
Last one. Eric had many proud moments in his life as a drummer. If Eric were here today, what would have been some of his proudest moments from his time with KISS? What was his favorite album that he worked on? What was yours?

Loretta:
His solos, “Little Caesar,” a lot of good stuff. He loved it. His proudest moment was that the fans loved him and accepted him. There was no doubting that no matter how many years went by they accepted my brother and loved him. Favorite album was Creatures of the Night for both of us. He tried to get that sound, and he could never duplicate that away. Going back to Enter the Fox, we have an interview with Shep Lonsdale who actually programmed the drums for Eric. You are going to hear the funniest stories that nobody knows. And it’s not what everybody thought it was, so you are going to find out how the sound came about and how Creatures was created.

Last Thoughts from Loretta Carr:
I want to thank the fans for supporting Eric and for realizing it’s not always about the drumsticks twirling in the air; it’s about the music and the person. Thank you for recognizing that, and thank you to all of the fans for keeping his spirit alive.

Please visit us at the official Eric Carr sites: Eric Carr – KISS (Facebook), www.ericcarr.com, Eric Carr Official Twitter, and the Eric Carr Official Instagram page. We love to have you there.

Never to let his smaller stature hold him back, Eric is pictured here in a familiar position, standing up-top the bass drums of his Ludwig kit, in the late 80s.

Interested in hearing Eric Carr bring the thunder? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

8 thoughts on “Enter The Fox: An Interview with Loretta Carr

  1. Thank you for this beautiful interview with Loretta Carr. I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary on Eric. I had the privilege of being on the Eric Carr Tribute Committee back in 1993. That year my Mom had passed away from lung cancer and at the time working on the Committee his parents and Loretta honored her and acknowledging her. It was so overwhelming and I truly appreciated it. I had the honor of working at the Kiss Convention the following year at Eric’s memorabilia table. I would like to thank Loretta and her family for all there kindnesd and compassion. And thank you Eric for all your beautiful and amazing talent. Sincerely Jewell D’Amico.

Leave a Reply

Social profiles
%d bloggers like this: